Listen & Learn
Selling Is Ironically Not About Selling At AllOne of the keys to becoming a sales powerhouse is to not “sell” anyone on anything. There should be no pressure for you to “convince” someone that they need to buy from you “right now.” Such hard-sell tactics are outdated and ineffective. Not only that, they are not what your prospective clients want—no one likes to be sold to. Sales is actually all about helping people or organizations to achieve goals or solve problems. Look at things from their perspective. Wear their shoes. You should become their advocate. If you can communicate clearly how your products or services effectively help your prospective customers to achieve their goals or solve their problems, your prospective clients do the selling for you—they sell themselves. Do this, and you are on your way to much greater sales results!
Ask QuestionsAnother key to exceptional sales performance is asking your prospective customers lots of questions. Remember, it’s not about you. It’s not about your company. It’s not about your products and services. It’s about them! So make your conversations about them. Ask them questions to uncover their goals, their pain points and their thoughts. Your questions will be customized for your particular market, but consider the following types of inquiries when talking with your prospective customers:
- What are your business goals?
- What’s the top problem you are trying to solve?
- What keeps you up at night?
- What’s one thing that none of your current partners and vendors do not do that you wish they would?
- What’s your organization’s decision making process?
- Who is involved in making this decision?
- What are the consequences if this problem is not resolved?
ListenAs a rule, try to get your prospective customers talking more than 50% of the time. Although you may be eager to tell them all about your products and services and how revolutionary or wonderful they are, try the opposite. Try to stop talking. Instead, listen to what they have to say. What are they trying to accomplish? What pain point are they trying to resolve? They may not even be aware at first, but by asking questions, allowing them to talk and truly listening to what their saying (don’t just go through the motions), you’ll likely be able to help them achieve much more than had you been without this information. Plus, you may be finding out more about your prospective customers than your competitors, giving you a critical edge.
Identify the Major Reasons for a Purchase“Why” is an exceptionally useful word in sales. You can ask “Why?” to your prospective customers in many different situations throughout the sales process. To be truly effective at sales, you’ll want to understand your buyer’s mind. What are all the reasons they are looking to make a purchase? There are going to be logical reasons for a given purchase, but remember that there will always be an emotional element, as well. The neuroscientist Antonio Damasio studied the effects of people who had brain damage in the area of the brain where emotions are generated, and he discovered that it is almost impossible for them to make decisions. In other words, emotions are a necessary part of a buying decision. And so extend your questioning beyond mechanical, logistical or operational areas, and try to understand the true, underlying emotions involved in the purchase decision of your buyers. Even with B2B (Business-To-Business) sales, you’re still going to be dealing with an individual on the buying side, and therefore emotions are going to be a factor in any decision about your products or services. Try the Five Whys approach as espoused by Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup, and which was developed by Toyota. The approach involves the asking of the question “Why?” five times in order to uncover the true root cause of a problem, rather than focusing on a surface-level problem that may not reveal the true reasons underlying a purchase decision.
New B2B Prospect Questionnaire