How many of you are old enough to remember when you were really excited to have an ironing board in your hotel room? (How many of you even know what an ironing board is?) Today, an ironing board isn’t even considered a perk. Somebody moved the ironing board from a perk to a commodity — and that person was the customer and/or your competitor.

In a world gone global and viral, it’s easy for competitors to catchup and copy your version of the ironing board. That’s why the best sales teams constantly evaluate their services to determine what’s moved from a value-added benefit to the price of admission. These sales teams are good at taking a hard look at reality. And the reality is:

•You deliver 24/7 service. Check. So do all your competitors.
•Your team has deep expertise. Check. Your competitors have all the degrees hanging on the wall as well.
•You’ve been in business for 50 years. Check. Yawn.

In an increasingly commoditized world, how do salespeople set themselves apart? It might be as simple as engaging in more live conversations with customers.This means picking up the phone and actually talking to them. It’s easy to default to instant-gratification selling behaviors, sending quick emails and texts rather than talking to human beings.

I’ve been guilty of this behavior — and I adore my clients. We’re all busy, and having a live conversation takes time. Here’s a reality check: Building real and strong relationships takes time.

A successful and busy VP of sales of mine works with equally busy customers. He sends his fair share of emails and texts. However, he is very intentional about engaging in live conversations with customers. He sends out calendar invites to clients for 15-minute phone calls. In those chats, he always shares something of relevance that will increase the customer’s knowledge about industry trends, or he gives updates on products and services.

Sometimes the conversation is simply to say “hello” and “thank you.” He’s built raving fans by including live conversations with his email and text communication.

Check out the new ironing board. Get intentional about having more conversations with your clients.


Creator of the Ei Selling® System, a unique and powerful sales program that integrates emotional intelligence skills with consultative selling skills. She is the author of Emotional Intelligence For Sales Success and Growing Great Sales Teams and is an international sales keynote speaker. Salesforce has named Colleen as one of the most influential sales figures of the 21st century.