Selling may require a variation in the strategies depending on the vertical market and the goods or services being represented, however the principles of selling remain the same. Because the principles are universal, the commonalities that are found in the mistakes that are made in the sales profession are also universal. With that understanding in mind, we know that there are many errors that show up in the early stages of a sales professional's career, and there is one that seems to be pervasive in both brand new and tenured sales people alike. Are you ready for it? Ok, here you go.
"Shut up and Listen!"
Got your attention didn't it? I know that statement still rattles me a little every time I read it, which means it is serving its purpose. You see, here is the deal; sales people, both young and old, are notorious for verbally vomiting on their prospects and customers alike.
Now, most of the time there is great intent around these audible data dumps. We want to be viewed as the expert and we want our prospects and customers to see us as a resource for them. We want them to feel comfortable with us, and often we think that by flexing our intellectual muscles we are creating this comfort level Yet, for some reason this just doesn't create the desired outcome in our meetings and interactions, and we are left sitting in our cars scratching our heads wondering what just happened?
So, what do we do about this? First, we must understand that the sales profession game may be the same, however the rules are different. Sales used to be all about providing information, and whomever had the most information won. Today, information is everywhere and customers have access to it 24/7. Listen, we are all carrying super computers around in our pockets, so information is available in abundance. As a result, Sales Professionals
must bring something other than information to the table.
You may be thinking that your product or service is unique or proprietary and that your information is still important. I hate to break it to you; you are fooling yourself by thinking that way! Now, I am not saying that you don't need to know about your products or services. I am also not suggesting that you shouldn't be an expert in your field. What I am suggesting is that your information or knowledge can't be your only deliverable. People make buying decisions out of emotion and then they justify the emotional decision with logic. This is principle. This is universal. This is unchanging.
In order to differentiate yourself in the market and outperform your competition, you must find a need and then provide a solution to that need. Simple right? It really is. However, you can't do this if you are the one doing all the talking in a meeting or conversation. To find the need you must first ask great questions and then; yes, you guessed it. Shut up and listen!!
When I say listen, I mean really listen. We refer to this as active listening. This is essentially being an empathetic observer. You are listening to what the other person is saying both verbally and non-verbally. This is not pretending to listen while formulating what you will say next! That mistake is where so many get in trouble and begin to fall back to spewing information all over the place.
So you asked a great question, and you actively listened. Now what? Ask another question. Keep asking questions and listening until it is truly clear what your prospect or customer's real need is. Often we take the first answer as the need and we go right into solutions. We want to go for the sale right away and ultimately this can be the deathblow to an opportunity. Remember, people buy for emotion and they justify the decision with logic. You must ask enough questions until you get to the real emotional need. When you connect to that true need, then you will be able to align the need to your product or service.
In closing, in order to avoid the biggest mistake that sales people make, simply ask great questions and then actively listen. Rinse and repeat that cycle until the true need is uncovered and then begin to design a solution for the need. Become a master at this and you will see your close rate and productivity increase