Success in Sales is Never Letting the Product Define You
Success in sales is never letting your product define you. Rather, you define your value based on your ability to intimately know your customer's business and their most pressing challenges.
Mainstream sales people look and sound average. To make up for this they try to get their offering to look exceptional; we are a global leader, we have unmatched quality, etc., and all they end up doing is sounding even more average. This type of information selling is like a Seinfeld show where it is nothing about nothing, or telling a lot and saying nothing.
The more you tell the less you sell. "Sales people are so in love with their offering that they so often end up just talking to themselves because they deceive themselves into thinking they have a captive audience. Their monologue ends up addressing an invisible audience. They believe since they are intently listening to themselves that the client is doing the same thing," says Larry Letterer.
This type of self-absorbed and ego-centric selling is like shooting first and then aiming. The gift of gab, the love selling, and the desire to be the center of attention is the great preserver of product pitching. Sales people end up being net exporters of information, instead of net importers. You cannot be a net exporter of information and realistically hope to be consistently viewed as an advisor, confidant and consultant. You cannot do one while doing the other.
"Selling isn't about products as much as it is about people, not about facts and gain as it is about emotions, not about success as much as it is about avoidance of failure, not about external factors as it is about internal factors," says Jim Beech. Business problems are extremely personal. Unfortunately our information and presentations are extremely impersonal.
"Presentations do not sell, sales people do," says James Lobaito. Customers do not care about what you know, until they know that you care. So advocating your product is the worst thing you can do early on in the sales process, because customers will immediately peg you as a product advocate (glorified product placement professional) who is not an advocate for them.
"People do things for their reasons not for ours. That is why sometimes you go out and tell people all about your new offering and you get so enthusiastic and passionate and they do not buy into your offering and you throw up your hands in disgust and you say they just don't have the vision, the insight...they just don't get it. It is like we are blaming them. However, maybe the problem is we describe how our product moves and motivates us without describing how our product moves and motivates our customers," says Dr. Tony Alessandra.
Prospects never appreciate your products as much as you do. Unfortunately, your information on your product too often is used as a weapon against the truth. "Knowing that you know is the beginning of illusion. Knowing that you don't know is the beginning of being open, transparent and forthcoming," says Paul Ferrini.
As you give so shall you receive. Most sales people misinterpret giving information as giving to justify their product-centric sales approach. The only valuable giving in sales, is the giving of thought-provoking questions, deep understanding and intense listening. Sales people too often use information as a crutch. However, the better skilled you are, the less information you will need to use.
The fatal flaw with information pitching is it does not factor into its equation that customers first and foremost need to be validated, acknowledged and understood, and made to feel secure before they receive any information. As Stephen Covey says, "First seek to understand before being understood." Most traditional sales people operate in the exact opposite way.