On today’s episode, we are discussing one of the things that often separates the top performers from the people who are just mediocre: attention to detail. Learn what you can do to boost your sales.


Welcome to the Same Side Selling podcast. I'm your host, Ian Altman. This week the topic is attention to detail. This is one of the things that often separates the top performers from the people who are just mediocre.

Now where did I come up with this topic? A friend of mine is interviewing for a position in his company. In the job posting, which is really clever and has a lot of little things that will entice quality applicants, he said in the posting, please include the word sensational in your cover letter. Now keep in mind, these are people applying for a job who obviously want the job or they wouldn't be applying for it. What percentage of the people do you think included the word sensational in their cover letter? The answer is less than 5%. In fact, some people tried to use the word and replaced it with a different word that’s similar, but not the same. Now, this is a position that requires attention to detail.

So, you might think, well, I'm not applying for a clerical type position. Maybe attention to detail doesn't matter. And what I will tell you is certain things like typos aren't that critical. If you occasionally make a typo, it's not the end of the world. However, attention to detail is critical in the world of sales. Because oftentimes, what happens is, our clients or prospects share information with us, or there's information that's readily available that we either ignore, overlook, or get wrong.

For example, I've seen people where the client will say, and we need this to support 40 to 50 of our individual employees. And three sentences later, the seller says, well, so how many people do you think, 20 people? And at that point, what's the client thinking? They're thinking, man, if you can't get the most basic information right, how are you possibly going to service my needs as a customer?

So, attention to detail becomes absolutely critical. What it means is that we need to do research in advance about our clients, not so we can show up having all the answers, but so that when we hear something from them, it's not a surprise. We want to understand their language, their acronyms, the terms that they use, their lingo, if you will, to make sure that we understand all the nuances that might show up in their business, so that we seem totally credible and don't get things wrong.

In my prior business, we did a lot of work in the pharmaceutical industry. In the pharmaceutical industry, they have clinical trials that they go through. And basically, trials go through phase one, phase two, and phase three. And phase three is it. That's the finish line. Once you go through phase three clinical trials, which is human, randomized, clinically controlled trials, that's when drugs then, if they pass through that process, they go to the FDA and other regulatory bodies for approval.

And so, we had a member of our team, we said, look, you're new to this industry, we want you just sit back and listen, observe. And this person was just chomping at the bit, they wanted to contribute to the conversation. And so, the client said, well, right now at this stage, where we're at in our process, we've completed phase one, we're in phase two right now, where we're really going to need your help is when reach phase three clinical trials. And this individual chimed in and said, yeah, we can even help you in phase four. And all of us laughed, and the individual had no idea what was so funny, other than, they later realized, as we explained to them on the drive back there is no phase four. Phase Three, is it. You're over, you're done.

So, we need to make sure that we understand the process, that we understand the language with our clients, because our clients can either see us as someone who's just a seller who's going to tell us anything we want to hear to get the sale, or they can see us as a subject matter expert. Someone who they can trust to deliver expertise to help them get the outcomes that they need. And what we know is that, if you want to sell hyper value, you have to be on that end of the spectrum. You have to be on the end of the spectrum that is a trusted subject matter expert. And as part of that you need to understand the industry, you need to understand your client, you need to pay careful attention.

So, for example, oftentimes if I'm talking to a client, let's say they're inviting me to come speak at an event for them. Oftentimes what I'll do is as soon as I get that inquiry, I research everything I can about their company. That way when they throw out an acronym I already know what that means. And someone will say, well, do you know what that acronym means? I said, well, I think so. When using that context, do you mean this? They'll say, yeah, that's exactly what we mean. And it gives them a comfort level that you know their industry.

We also try to use examples that are relevant to them in their business. So, attention to detail is not just remembering to include a certain term, though, that's certainly valid. I've seen people respond to a request for proposal, and they omit key pieces of information that were fundamental requirements in the request for proposal. So, they could've delivered an amazing proposal but they left out critical information, that the client automatically says, you don't qualify, and they throw it in the trash. They may miss a deadline, once again, attention to detail. They may not include certain insurance information that was required as part of the proposal process. In the trash.

Each of these elements is something that is absolutely essential. And when professional sellers miss that information, they usually say, well, I only missed this one thing. But imagine if you're the customer, and you're thinking to yourself, when you're trying to sell to me, you're missing things that are essential to you making the sale. I can only imagine what you're going to miss once we become a customer.

What that also means in attention to detail is follow-through. It is making sure that when you say you're going to do something by a certain date and time that you actually deliver it. So that when you say to them, oh, I'll get back to you by Tuesday. Don't get back to them Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday. In fact, you should always pad it a little bit so if something comes up, you'll still be on time or early. The biggest mistakes that I found that I've made over the years are when I over-commit to something, and then I miss a deadline. And I don't know if the client cares so much. But for me, I feel so much shame, it's almost like I don't want to contact them anymore. So, attention to detail is a critical component to successful selling.

It's the reason why in Same Side Selling, we emphasize this notion that the same side quadrants. Of taking notes in a specified format of the upper left quadrant, upper right, lower left, lower right of having issue in the upper left, impact/importance in the upper right, results in the lower left, and others' impact and lower right. And that way, we don't miss valuable information that we need and that our clients need as part of the process.

So next time, you're excited and you're reaching out to those clients and prospects, remember the attention to detail. Do your homework in advance. Make sure that you honor the commitments that you make to your clients. And you might just see your performance and results increase compared to the rest of the people on your team.

If you have additional questions, there are topics that you'd like me to cover on the next episode, drop me a note to Ian at IanAltman.com.