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Free Information is Worth What You Paid for It

If your customer doesn't buy into your identification and understanding of their problem and its ramifications, they more than likely won't trust your solution. "The key is not to spend a lot of time selling an idea that you have a better mousetrap, rather to find a way to eliminate a mouse problem in a better way for your customer," says Brian Tracy. And if that doesn't work use your information to trigger doubt, insecurity and risk.

Selling is best accomplished when it professionally and diplomatically provokes, challenges, incites, questions and gets under the skin of customers to second-guess themselves. "Your information should either resonate or repel them away; either or. The goal isn't to attract everyone," says Bill Caskey. The goal is to repel those who don't have actionable, pressing problems. Make them a second tier prospect for the time being until their circumstances change.

"It is enormously presumptuous for someone with the title sales person on their business card to announce to a buyer that he has the solution, even before the buyer has shared a single goal," says John Holland. Sales: The profession whose business is to solve problems of their customers, which they personally don't understand, really know, or care to take the time to know. Is it no wonder that sales people aren't held in high regard!

In strategic selling, less is more. Those who have the least to say often have the most to say. Most sales people's information is typified by more information, nonexistent context and perspective, and little relevancy. Once you believe instinctively that your product information is simply a means to an end for your customer to better understand their issues and to find the truth, you start to see how irrelevant and superfluous it is to give out information in the form of selling points. Product information is best utilized more in the form of well crafted questions.

You do not need more product information and knowledge per se, you need more problem-solving knowledge. "Customers don't necessarily need new information but they need clarity on existing information that is readily available but may require several lines of sight," says Tom Snyder. Nothing you say will reach their ears until they're ready and willing. Your job is to determine when they are ready, and why they are ready.

"Always remember that you know more about selling than customers know about buying. Even though customers are smarter today about the many options they have, if they ask you to come in to tell them about your product or give a demonstration, the request seldom reflects a carefully thought out buying process. Rather it reflects a lack of understanding of how they should go about acquiring your products or services. In most cases, show us what you've got is merely a default question on the customer's part. You need to have supreme confidence that you can bring value by helping them understand how to buy your solution," says Jerry Stapleton. Actually, the request of show me what you got can be translated to, if you're smart you won't answer that question and you'll roll up your sleeves to find out what is on my mind.

Getting access to the truth is far more important of a skill than dispensing product information. Most sales people concern themselves too much with their own truth (their superior product offering). They're more interested in knowing how interested and impressed their customer is in their offering, but not as interested in leveraging the truth as to the reality of whether change is in the cards for their customer. The truth shall always set you free in the world of selling.

Sales people lead with too much inane information, too soon, don't ask good business questions (only self-serving application questions), solve symptoms instead of root causes, subsequently don't listen because they're so self-absorbed and love the act of selling.

The problem with the traditional sales model of disseminating information with enthusiasm and positive energy is that it appears easy and it's actually very hard. The problem with strategic and customer-centric selling is it appears hard, but it's actually easy. Traditional selling is easy on the front end (you just spray and pray), and very difficult on the back end as you mercilessly chase and stalk. Strategic selling is the inverse; lots of due diligence on the front end, and you then let your customer discover their own answers and come to their own conclusions regardless of your selling agenda.

Product pitching draws attention to what it's supposed to hide. Free information is worth what you paid for it. The biggest flaw of information pitching is it lacks a human face. People buy from people. When you live by the sword (useless information) you die by the sword (commoditization).

Richard Farrell is President of Tangent Knowledge Systems, a national sales development and training firm based in Chicago. He is the author of the upcoming book Selling has Nothing to do with Selling. He trains and speaks around the world and has authored many articles on his unique non-selling sales posture.

Phone: 773-404-7915
EMail: rfarrell@tangentknowledge.com
Web: http://www.tangentknowledge.com