You lose sales because you do not realize the true nature of a sale. Most of us view sales as conversations about product features and benefits to persuade a prospect to buy. This view is bankrupt.
The correct definition of sales:
“Asking of appropriate questions so that the buyer sees the correct course of action for themselves.”
The way you can tell if you have a great sales model if you get the buyer’s commitment before you discuss the product. Say what?
Topo, a collector of data and research on sales, states it well, “One of the most profound changes in sales and marketing in recent years is the idea that companies should focus on engaging customers more than selling products.”
A focus on the customer is difficult for most senior managers to accept. Managers are focused on this quarter’s results. How can they sell more if the sales people are not talking about the product? So most “sales training” is just product training.
How to Overcome Product Focus
I was involved in financial sales for more than three decades. Sales “professionals” in this industry, as in most industries, are product-focused. They view the sales presentation as a recitation of features and benefits leading to the buyer’s commitment. However, a more powerful sales presentation has the buyer commit to the seller and his solution before discussing products.
I would invest an hour asking my prospect questions to explore what he wanted financially. The prospect list of financial desires might look like this:
- Take my grandchildren on a trip each year during their Christmas vacation
- Be certain that if I predecease my spouse, she has a regular monthly income
- Have a better solution dealing with my financially irresponsible adult son
I would then ask that if I could provide those three outcomes, would we have a basis for working together. More than 90% of the time I would get a “yes” and collect a fee right then for solutions and alternatives. I had not mentioned any products and never used the term “financial plan.” I sold nothing other than the prospect’s faith in me. Why did he have this faith after just 60 minutes? Because I focused on him, and not what I wanted to sell.
Consider this example. You interview contractors to add a room to your home. The first contractor uses his time with you to explain the tools he uses: the brands, the horsepower, the types of nails he uses, etc. You dismiss him as a nut-case.
The second contractor spends his time asking questions:
- How do you want to use the room?
- Who will use it?
- Do you want it light and airy or more stately with wood paneling?
- How often will you use the room?
- What about the color scheme?
- Do you already have ideas about lighting?
As the contractor asks questions, your vision of your room addition becomes more clear, and your anticipation builds. Without realizing it, you are in the presence of a sales master. He knows that the questions he asks are far more powerful than anything he can say. Without discussing any of his tools, he has you commit to a contract.
Notice the difference between your current company’s sales pitch—an obsession with your tools—to a sales presentation based on the buyer’s vision.
I don’t blame you for thinking “I sell asphalt paving for freeways—how the heck can we sell without a focus on the product?” I invite you to recraft your firm’s presentation to sell the buyer’s desired end-result and not your product. Let your top sales person test this model to gauge its success. Download my training guide on how to develop more profitable sales model.