Content Sellers Often Go Home Empty-Handed
During my training sessions I work very hard to get my participants to redirect their passion and enthusiasm for selling, persuading and convincing; to sifting, sorting, selecting and profiling. The former often requires dispensing with irrelevant data and information, and the latter requires collecting and collating sensitive, consequential information.
Selling in the information economy is all about reversing the traditional flow of information. Let the customer carry the burden of proof of why they have a compelling and urgent reason to change or to buy.
The single most important sale initially is selling your customer on sharing important and sensitive information. The beauty with old school selling (indiscriminate information overload) and the reason it is so incredibly popular, is it requires very little active participation and engagement with customers other than a feigned look of interest and an occasional nod or grunt. And let us not forget it is easy to execute improperly because it requires virtually no empathy, humility, emotional intelligence and no firm grasp of reality.
Unbeknownst to content dispensers, is when you go on a sales call filled to the brim with information, you often are going to go home empty-handed. The only thing worth bringing to the party is an open mind, empathy, lots of questions and business knowledge on how to find, isolate and assess your customer's business challenges.
The most important information in the sales call is the information you do not have, or you have not validated and confirmed. "How you sell is a free sample of what you solve," says Charles Green. So the proof in the pudding is in the analysis of the problem, not so much the actual resolution or the solution.
"The traditional sales person leads with let me show you our new product, the business advisor leads with let me ask you some questions about your business to see if you have any problems that are worth fixing and improving profit with. Traditional sales people talk in terms of comparative advantages against their competition. Business advisors talk about problems and profit," says Mack Hanan.
Sales people have always been well served to be the first to craft the needs of the customer so that they have a competitive advantage over their competition. You can go one step further and be the first to identify and assess their problems and measure the consequences. After this you should be the last to resolve. First in last out is not a bad rule of thumb.
"Proposals don't sell–people do," says Randy Illig. The purpose of sales information is to use it as a tool for inquiry, not as a means to an end. The best presentation at the selling event is the customer presenting to you their challenges, issues and their rationale for changing.