Stop Mind Reading
Stop Mind Reading
John thought the sales call went well. He enjoyed a great rapport with the customer. He answered all her questions and even had his office email some data that he didn’t have with him. At the end of the meeting she thanked John and told him she’d have an answer for him in a few weeks. “John”, she said, “you have been very helpful and given me everything I need to move forward. All things considered, it looks like there’s a possibility we’ll be doing business.”
The customer bought from a competitor. John was shocked. In his mind he had this business locked up. He even told his sales manager to expect the order in a few weeks. In reality the buyer hadn’t promised him anything. She mouthed vague meaningless phrases and John accepted them as a commitment. He had “happy ears”, heard what he wanted to hear and not what was really said.
Sales guru, David Sandler, called this mutual mystification. Both parties are talking but neither one really understands what the other one is saying, or not saying.
Vague statements or statements that have multiple interpretations may be the norm in politics. They have no place in the sales call. You must know exactly what your customer is saying. If you are not crystal clear, you must pin him down. If you don’t clarify what your customer means, you have nothing.
Let’s take a look at what might have happened if John eliminated the mutual mystification:
First he would not have answered all the customer’s questions until he found out why the information was important to her. He assumed that everything she asked for was equally important. He did an information dump that may have cost him the sale. He should have asked why she needed the information.
When the customer said, all things considered, it looks like there’s a possibility we’ll be doing business, John should have clarified what she meant. Thanks! That’s great but can you tell me what that looks like? He may have discovered that she liked his product but she still had two other companies to talk with.
Had he really understood what the buyer meant when she said, a possibility that we might do business, he might have been able to do something about it. A possibility that we might do business, could mean anything from I’ll buy from you when pigs fly, to maybe yes, maybe no.
In sales you can’t assume anything. Don’t try to be a mind reader, don’t leave the sales call hoping something may happen. Have a clear understanding of where your customer stands. If you’re the sales manager, ask questions to get a clear understanding of what exactly transpired during the call. You may not be able to save the call, but you will be able to coach your salesperson so that he does not make the same mistake next time.
Oliver Connolly coaches and mentors a limited number of sales managers every year. To learn more click on http://www.clevelstrategic.com or call him at 516 480 0563. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org