Selling With Extreme Prejudice
and Without Probable Cause
Sharon Drew Morgen sums up very well one of the biggest problems in the selling profession, "Sales people cannot sell and customers cannot buy." I would add both parties do not trust one another, and each party uses deception as a defense mechanism. To make matters worse we live in an era where people more so than ever hate to be sold.
I love and hate clichés as much as the next person. The following short list of clichés are some of the biggest challenges and risks sales people face in today's selling environment of mistrust and outdated selling strategies:
- Customers have a lot more say in whether they buy or not, than we as sales people have a say in whether we sell or not. As Billy Bean said in the movie Moneyball, "let the game come to you." Having the right solution is not nearly as important as being with the right customer, with the right problem, with the right timing, with the right authority, and the right means.
- Customers do not care how much you know until they know how much you care. If you believed this, you would think long and hard before you lifted your finger a centimeter off the table as to whether it was worth the energy and time to launch into your proactive selling campaign. No more preemptive selling barrages.
- Seek first to understand before being understood. Selling is an understanding business, not a being understood business. No one cares about us, our product, or our company. They only rightfully care about themselves. The only person that cares about us is our mother. Stop being self-centered and product-centered in your sales approach.
- You cannot sell anything to anyone. You can only provide a conducive environment for them to self-motivate themselves. Stop pushing product and pitching. You are not as good at it as you believe you are. Let the customer draw their own conclusions. They are much better at it than you think.
- Your job is not so much to change minds it is to find open minds. The former is a lot harder than the latter, and not nearly as pragmatic. Yet sales people love the black art of selling. It really gives them a charge to feel in charge. That is why they choose the former over the latter.
- Sales people do not want to find the truth because they believe they can create the truth. Just a fancy way of saying the aforementioned.
- You cannot be part of the solution until you are part of the problem. It is very difficult to consistently show customers what is right (solution) before you show them what is wrong. If they do not trust your analysis of their problem it is very likely they will not trust your resolution.
- You do not know what you are selling until you know what the customer is avoiding, or trying to correct. Remember, customers will run 10 times as fast to avoid a problem than they will to take advantage of an opportunity.
- When you go on a sales call full of information and enthusiasm you will often go home empty-handed. It is not about you.
- You should be only as committed and enthusiastic to sell someone as they are as enthusiastic and committed to fix a problem.
- Customers buy for their reasons not ours. According to the Brooks Group the number one reason customers buy from one sales person versus another is the sales person who they choose really "got them."
- Customers love to buy, but they hate to be sold. The problem is sales people love to sell more than they love to have customers independently buy and come to their own conclusions.
- The sales person with the superior understanding of the customer's business, situation, circumstances, priorities, and problems will consistently outsell the sales person with the best product, the best price, the newest innovations, and the best offering. If sales people bought into this concept, the whole dynamics of their sale strategy would be turned upside down.
More products are bought than they are sold. More sales people are interested in winning the equivalent of the tallest midget award (selling their superior features and benefits), than just taking the time to let customers hash out the pros and cons themselves through the quality of your superior questions.
- Selling is just as much about buying as it is about selling. You also need to be sold. You need to buy into the customer's reasons for buying. Selling is a skill set of sifting, sorting and selecting opportunities so that you can carefully choose the highest prospects. Selling is a process of elimination when done properly. Selling is a process of carefully deciding who qualifies to do business with you.