By Keith Rosen, MCC
The Executive Sales Coach™
I recently purchased some advertising space in a national magazine. I have been a subscriber for years and knew everything I needed to know to select them as an advertising vehicle. I called them with one intention, to place an order.
When I called their office, the salesperson began doing what she felt was appropriate; to start selling me. She began with the history of the magazine, moved into a discussion about her subscriber base and how effective an advertising campaign can be, and ended with information about her ad design team. She was unaware that I already knew all of the information that she shared with me.
She never took the time to ask what my intention was in running the ad or what information I might be interested in hearing more about. While she was speaking at me, I could only think about how many selling opportunities this must have cost her when dealing with prospective clients who didn’t have the time or patience to listen to information that didn’t suit their needs.
This is not an unusual problem. Many salespeople spend much of their time during a sales call attempting to educate the prospect about their product, service, and industry. They think that it will stimulate interest and increase the odds of earning a new client. In many cases, this is the same strategy that compromises their opportunity to create a relationship with that prospect.
Unfortunately, this is the easiest way to lose their attention. Once a person hears something that they aren’t interested in or if they feel that you are providing information that doesn’t apply to them, their interest is lost and they stop listening.
A sales call is not the time to prove how much you know. It’s the time to find out what you don’t know about the prospect and what the prospect doesn’t know about you. It is not your knowledge that sells, but how effectively you customize your knowledge to meet each of your prospects’ specific needs.
Before you can uncover a prospect’s individual needs and educate them on how your product will meet those needs, you must first uncover what your prospect already knows.
Your company’s presentation materials are designed to assist you in educating your prospects. However, it’s your job to determine and provide the appropriate information that will fit a prospect’s specific situation.
Start your conversation by asking certain questions. Questions will enable you to uncover the relevant information that you need to provide and to identify the prospect’s objective and expectations of the meeting. Begin your meeting with the following questions:
- What are your expectations of our meeting today?
- What information can I provide that would assist you in choosing a new vendor, service provider, contractor, etc.?
- Just so I am not repetitive, what do you already know about our product and services?
Then, based on the information you receive, you can craft your presentation.
Caution: When listening to what your prospect already knows, some of the information you receive about your product or industry may be inaccurate. Address this carefully. Instead of correcting them, simply add truth to their statement by asking another question or adding to what they had said. Otherwise, while making yourself look right, you run the risk of making the prospect wrong, thus putting them on the defensive.
Most importantly, learn to put your ego aside and let go of your need to “sell.” The efficacy of a presentation is going to be judged by the outcome produced. This begins with finding the right balance of information for your prospects.
About Keith Rosen, MCC — The Executive Sales Coach
Keith Rosen is the executive sales coach that top corporations, executives, and sales professionals call first. As an engaging speaker, Master Coach, and well-known author of many books and articles, Keith is one of the foremost authorities on coaching people to achieve positive change in their attitude, behavior, and results. For his work as a pioneer and leader in the coaching profession, Inc. magazine and Fast Company named Keith one of the five most respected and influential executive coaches in the country.
If you’re ready for better results quickly, contact Keith about personal or team coaching and training at 1-888-262-2450 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit Keith Rosen online at Profit Builders and be sure to sign up for his free newsletter The Winners Path.