Selling oilfield services in 2017 is nothing like it was in 2007, and it’s certainly nothing like it was in 1987.
Unfortunately, amateurs across the industry still sell like we’re in the Commodore 64 era. These amateurs stumble around aimlessly hoping the next big deal will save their jobs. I know, I used to be one of them.
No one thing happened that made me suddenly become a professional seller. Sandler Sales Training helped (a lot). Linking up with the oil and gas sales expert himself, Mr. Mark LaCour, was another stepping stone. Content marketing certainly played a pivotal role as well.
But, while I can’t point to one event or tactic made it all click, a handful of things have made all the difference. Here are five of them.
Selling Oilfield Services: Turning Pro
#1 Stop Caring
If you are in sales, your job is not to close every sale. Your job is to close every sale that makes sense. You have to go into every meeting prepared – even happy – to walk away without a deal. Selling is a lot like dating. Girls know when you’re desperate, and so do prospects. The less you care about selling oilfield services, the more your prospects will respect you. Respect brings trust, and trust brings sales.
#2 Disqualify Early
Once you stop caring, you can move into professional selling and disqualify early. You have to understand what you sell is not a fit for everyone. If you are afraid to tell a prospect you can’t help them, you’re an amateur. Your attitude costs you untold respect in the marketplace. If you can’t help someone, tell them – as quickly as possible. They will respect you and refer you business when they meet someone who needs what you sell.
#3 Drip It Like It’s Hot
A lot of sales and marketing experts advocate drip files. According to them, you should keep a file of articles to send to people with corresponding contact drip calendars. That sounds great in theory, but it’s far too rigid and impersonal for my tastes.
To successfully nurture business contacts into strong relationships, stop seeing them as business contacts. Think about how you keep the lines of communication open with friends and family. Do you keep files of articles on hand to “drip” to them at the appropriate time interval? No! But, every day you come across articles that make you think of certain friends. When the content is good and hits on something the two of you recently discussed, you share it with them.
If you want to become your client’s “trusted advisor” understand “trusted advisor” is just a fancy way to say “friend”.
#4 Ask Better Questions
Any amateur can ask for a prospect’s budget and fiscal calendar. It takes a professional to understand how the dollar amount allocated to projects like the one you are selling reflects the company’s priority around solving that problem.
Amateur sellers wouldn’t dare ask a prospect why the company allocated X dollars to tackle a problem when everyone knows it costs at least Y to solve and will end up costing Z if they put it off. They certainly wouldn’t have the nerve to bluntly diagnose the problem, and then recommend changes in the company’s budget necessary to close the deal and avoid certain doom.
However, this is exactly what professionals do. As a result, their clients and prospects respect them and sign on the dotted line.
#5 Write Articles Starring Them
This week a client joked, “I’m not opening any more of James’ emails. The last time I opened one of his emails, it cost me $5,000!” I laughed hysterically because he nailed my favorite way to build trust and close sales; content. Any average content marketer will tell you to write helpful articles. Articles that serve your industry and add value to your prospects work lives. Here’s how you take that advice to the next level.
Let’s do an exercise. Think of the last strong sales conversation you had. Who did you talk to? What topics did you discuss? What are the top problems they face today? Do you have the prospect and company in mind? Great.
Now choose one of their top problems, write the solution, and include them in the article. Once you finish the article, send it to them and hype how you included them in the piece. Now they have no choice but to read the article.
Since you kicked ass and gave away a bunch of killer ideas to help solve the problem you just discussed, the sale naturally moves forward. Before they know it, you’ve got a paid invoice and a satisfied customer.
Selling Oilfield Services in 2033
I started selling in 1999. I wouldn’t succeed at selling for another 16 years. If you’re just getting started selling oilfield services, keep at it. At least until the year 2033.
You will either turn pro or go bald. If you’re lucky, you’ll do both!