Stop Trying to Sail against the Wind
Peter was frustrated. He was working his butt off, but his sales were nowhere near where they should be. He knew his product and he made lots and lots of sales calls. He was beginning to wonder if he was in the wrong business. Maybe it was time to try a different career? This one sure wasn’t working out for him.
We debriefed several sales calls and the problem became evident. Peter was trying too hard. On top of that he was trying to sell to everyone that he came across. If they could fog a mirror, he thought that they were prospects. Not the case! Not everyone is a prospect for your product or service. Even if they are, they may not be qualified to buy from you. They may not have the money, or they may not be willing to invest it. Apart from the money issue, they may not want or need your services. So before you try to sail against the wind, make sure the people you’re trying to sell are qualified.
Even with qualified prospects, Peter was trying too hard. He would rattle off a list of features and benefits that would make your head spin. He could literally watch their eyes glaze over. “What’s the matter with these people?” he would think. “Don’t they realize how much time and effort our marketing department put into this stuff? Don’t they know what it can mean to them?”
Actually, no they didn’t know. Furthermore, they could care less. People buy for their reasons. Not Peter’s. Not the marketing department’s reasons. Sometimes they buy for the weirdest reasons. Telling them why they need to buy from you is like sailing against the wind. They are not listening. They begin to tune you out and, before you know it, the call is over.
Years ago I brought the president of the company I worked for to see the senior buyer of one of our major customers. The president proceeded to tell the buyer about how wonderful our new product was. He listed the origin of the ingredients and talked about our state of the art manufacturing facility. He rattled off scores of features, and the benefits of those features to the customer. Finally he concluded in his strong German accent, “You vill buy it!” When the call was over, the buyer thanked us. He also asked me to stay for a minute. “Connolly” he said, “You and I get along pretty well, but, if you ever bring that arrogant SOB in here again, that will change.
Now in fairness to the company president, he was extremely proud of his products. He wanted to share his enthusiasm with the buyer. Unfortunately there was also a communication barrier … literal German came across as being arrogant in English. The buyer was not about to be dictated to by anyone.
Instead of spitting into the wind and wasting time and energy extolling a bunch of features and benefits that the customer may not care about, find out what your customer wants. Begin by asking permission to ask some questions. Find out what’s important to your customer and what kind of challenges he’s facing. Allow the customer to tell you what’s important to him before you start offering solutions or fixes. When everyone is on the same page, the call will be more productive.
In the words of Stephen Covey, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” You won’t have to work so hard, and you’ll sell a lot more.
Peter is doing much better. He’s still working hard but he’s no longer frustrated. He’s making his numbers and is a happy man.
Oliver Connolly coaches and mentors sales managers and sales management professionals. To learn more about how he can help you please click on http://www.clevelstrategic.com