In every sales call there is a fine line between gathering information and providing information.
Savvy sales professionals gather information by asking thought provoking, insightful questions. They spur intense conversations by sharing insight and asking for opinions. They ask tough questions especially those around change, opinions and risk.
Once they understand the buyer’s requirements they can then connect their product, service or solution in a manner that doesn’t make them sound like a “talking leaflet.” You know who these folks are. They can talk for days about their product. They often talk non-stop during a sales call in an attempt to impress the prospect with their product and clinical knowledge. Instead of being influential and persuasive they hinder the building of relationships and often alienate potential and existing clients.
How do you prevent this phenomenon from occurring? Here are some simple suggestions.
- Prepare For Every Call– It’s simple. Preparation brings better results. It helps you think through in advance the key questions you want to ask and their sequence so you have a conversation and not an interrogation. It also allows you to define in advance the best outcome of the call, problems that you may encounter and how to resolve them along with important information that you wish to share. Preparation breeds confidence and demonstrates you are a professional.”
- Role Play– Practice makes perfect! Role play different types of sales calls and if possible video-tape them. I know you hate both. The reality is a sales call is a live performance and you get judged by the prospect every time you do one. Get over your feelings and anxiety. Doing role plays and video-taping your performance provides insight from your peers and managers and helps you improve. Just do them!”
- Ask Questions & Listen: You learn valuable information by asking good, well-thought out questions and then listening to the responses. Not only do you learn more but you show that you are genuinely interested in the stakeholder’s situation. You must earn the right to discuss your product, service or solution after you have asked good, quality questions.”
- Think Artichoke– If you have ever eaten an artichoke you know that the center is the best part. To get there you must peel back layer after layer of leaves. Selling is the same way. It’s rare that 1-2 questions will provide all the answers to what the stakeholder is trying to accomplish, fix or avoid. When you get the urge to be a “talking leaflet” resist the urge and peel back more leaves by asking more questions. When you do so you will find that you learn more than your competitor. This allows you to offer a better more focused and targeted offering. The end result is you will win the business.”
- Sell Solutions Not Products: Remember that people buy solutions not products. My favorite analogy is that no one needs a drill but they do need holes. Find out what your prospect wants to accomplish that they cannot do today, what problem needs a resolution or must be avoided at all costs and then provide them with a solution.”
- Be a Role Model-Sell like you would like to be sold to. We all have numerous stories of how “sales professionals” impressed us. Be a role model for the sales profession and sell like one. “Don’t be a Talking Leaflet.”
Suggestions to Consider
Organizations should provide specific types of “sales training” with all new product introductions. Specifically they should provide the sales representative with a profile of the ideal or perfect customer, buyer personas, explain their buying process, discuss typical problems they encounter and provide a bevy of questions that would uncover an opportunity. Finally they should show the sales representative how to connect their product, service or solution to each stakeholder in a manner that creates meaningful differentiation. With this approach there are no ‘trial closes” only orders!
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