I had the good fortune to hear Neen James, leadership expert, present at the National Speakers Association. She asked the audience a great question. “Are you a thought leader or thought repeater?” (You might be thinking I am a thought repeater at this point….stick with me.)
Salespeople are told be thought leaders, trusted advisors, insightful salespeople, provocative and be willing to challenge your prospects and customers assumptions. All wonderful ideas--that often don’t show up during a sales call. Why?
To be a thought leader, you must:
#1: Get out of your industry silo. Tamara Kleinberg is an innovation expert and helps companies think, act and become more innovative. She shares, “Most innovation is on the fringes of everyday life….you just need to pay attention and see what you can adapt to your world.) (Click here for her free innovation worksheet: http://tamarakleinberg.com/play-on-the-fringes-innovation-tool). Make it a habit every day to study what other companies, not in your vertical, are doing to win business and retain clients. Then share those insights with your customers to help them remain competitive. How many of you could use a version of a Walmart Greeter in your organization?
#2: Be a permanent student. During candidate interviews, I always ask this question. “What are the five most recent business books you’ve read?” The typical answers are, “None….going to get to it….” How can you be a thought leader if you aren’t gaining any new thoughts! Are you aware of trends, market changes or customer demands? I recently added a very effective concept to our sales training program after reading a book on spirituality!
President and CSO