Most sales people, and all sales managers, spend thousands of hours studying how to sell. We attend seminars, our companies bring in expert consultants, we read marketing strategy books; all focused on how to sell.
This is a colossal waste of time!
Why? Let me briefly answer by suggesting some “selling” situation you are experiencing:
1. you are asked to send a bid or proposal
2. you get price objections
3. your prospect doesn’t return calls
4. they claim to be happy with their current supplier
5. the economy is slow and no one is buying
Any of these sound familiar? Of course they do, particularly if you are focused on selling techniques as you go about your business. My personal opinion is that most of the authors of selling strategy books are much better writers than they are sales people.
So what’s the alternative?
One of the first questions we ask our consulting clients is, “why do your customers buy from you?” I can tell you that 100% of the answers when we pose this question for the first time to a client are a variety of platitudes that reflect the client’s belief about their own business and it’s superiority to the competition. Every answer is an “I” or “we” statement; none demonstrate even the most basic understanding of the customer. Why? BECAUSE THEY HAVE NEVER ASKED THE CUSTOMER!
In future posts I’ll take you through at least a dozen good, specific, reasons why customers buy from one company over another. For now, I want to suggest that you ask yourself the question. “Why do my customers buy from me?” But I’m not going to let you off the hook by answering with the typical platitudes that I know you’ll come up with. Instead, I want to challenge you to do a simple exercise in the next two weeks. If you do this, I guarantee you will be able to answer the question with honest, relevant, data that will help you grow your business. Here’s the process:
1. contact six of your best customers
2. invite them to a seminar about how to build THEIR business
3. offer GREAT food
4. let them know that there will be a 15-20 minute question and answer session where you are going to be asking them questions about how to strengthen your relationship.
5. carefully create six questions focused on what they look for in a vendor/partner and how you meet their needs. These are not self serving questions where you look for complements. You want to know what they want/need! If you’ve done this correctly, some of them will be frank with you about where you come up short. THIS IS GOOD!
6. record the session. Audio is OK, video is better. Then listen/watch the recording at least 50 times!
OK, having trouble getting started? Here’s a few generic questions that you can edit for use in your business:
1. what would you like to see in a rep? and why?
2. what leads to trust for you?
3. how important is the responsiveness of the sales rep/company in your decision making?
4. what is the $impact for you/your business on having a partner vs a vendor relationship?
Get the idea? Good. Now go for it!