This week, I´ve been talking to you about selling and in particular about Jeff Thull´s new book set for release in September. Jeff, whose book is titled "Exceptional Selling: How the Best Connect and Win in High Stakes Sales, was kind enough to participate in a Q & A for this blog. Jeff is a leading-edge strategist and valued advisor for executive teams of major companies worldwide. As President and CEO of Prime Resource Group, he has designed and implemented business transformation and professional development programs for companies like Shell Global Solutions, 3M, Microsoft, Intel, Citicorp, IBM and Georgia-Pacific, as well as many fast track, start-up companies. Here we go:
LGL: It seems to me that we´re all selling in some way-whether you´re a freelance writer pitching a story to an editor or a dance company selling tickets to a new production. Can you address this issue?
JT: You´re absolutely right. When we communicate with anyone about any topic, we want to convey a thought or understanding to that person. We are communicating what we want them to understand, or what we want them to believe, or what we want them to do. If we are successful in bringing about that change in the other person, I think it is fair to say that we have gotten them to "buy into" our point, we have made the sale, whether that involves them spending any money or not.
LGL: In your book, you promise to "shatter decades-old assumptions about business-to-business selling." What myths are you referring to?
JT: One of the myths is that you want to start your selling by creating interest in the solution or by making a presentation about your solution. Today you should start with determining if your customer is experiencing any negative impact or symptoms, due to the absence of your solution. I´m suggesting we should follow the example of a doctor. The doctor begins your exam by looking for symptoms and then connects the prescription directly to those symptoms. The doctor does not explain the merits of open-heart surgery and then ask if you´d like to schedule an operation.
LGL: Why have the myths lasted so long?
JT: I´ll step on some toes for saying this, but most salespeople (60-80%) don´t think very much about what they are doing and why they are doing it. They stay very much in a routine. Having learned enough basics to "get by," they aren´t spending a lot of time refining their process and skills. I believe they truly do not recognize the extra work they create for themselves by staying with what they believe is the "tried and true."
LGL: Do people have a love/hate relationship with business myths?
JT: One of the most common comments we hear from participants in our seminars is about how refreshingly natural the diagnostic approach is, how much common sense it makes and that they have always struggled with many of the traditional sales techniques and how un-natural they were. They were doing it because that is what they were being taught — they didn´t like it, but were made to believe that is what you had to do to be successful. Their reaction to Diagnostic SellingÂ® was one of relief and validation that they were given permission to use a more authentic approach to selling, one they felt was right, that they could be proud of, and one that they would be extremely successful with.