RE-THINK YOUR SALES APPROACH
by Gary Lockwood, Business Coach
Demanding customers - fierce competition
- breathtaking technological innovation...
These are the realities of today's global
marketplace... realities that have changed forever the way we do business,
especially the way we sell. Gone are the days when salespeople could rely
on charming small-talk and aggressive closing techniques alone to generate
Many traditional selling approaches regard
selling as something the seller does to the buyer. They sell them something.
The result of this attitude to sales is that many salespeople adapt a manipulative,
almost coercive style of selling. Some salespeople think of selling as
pushing a customer into buying, and success as a victory. Often, people
fear salespeople and distrust them. They think of salespeople as fast talking
and slick. They are wary of being sold something they really don't need
Have you ever been sold something, then
regretted it later? How did you feel about the salesperson?
The more modern and enlightened view of
selling is that the role of the sales person is to help the customer make
good buying decisions. Someone seen as an ally and advisor. A business
partner who can be relied upon to provide valuable help and advice as well
as supply vital goods and services.
The outcome of a sale is not that one person
gains at the expense of the other, but that a win-win outcome is forged
by the two parties who both leave feeling good about the transaction and
with a positive commitment to each other.
The role of the professional salesperson
is largely a product of this century. Before the industrial revolution,
the people who made things were also responsible for selling their goods.
As the availability of consumer goods expanded, the need arose for people
who specialized in guiding consumer decisions. The role of salesperson
has changed dramatically over the years, largely as a result of the changing
relationship between availability of products and services being sold and
the demand of the consumer for those products and services.
Since World War II, with the increasing
growth of enabling technology, and the explosion of competition, we have
seen availability outstrip demand. In those situations, we started to see
sellers pushing their goods and services at consumers. We began to experience
the manipulative salesperson. This is the perception that many people have
today of salespeople. The smooth-talking con man so well depicted in movies
such as "Used Cars", "Tin Man", and "GlenGarry Glen Ross".
How do we reestablish a more positive relationship
between product/service availability and consumer demand? Three strategies:
1. Clearly identify each customer's
unique needs and requirements.
Clearly identify each customer's unique needs
and requirements. Manipulative salespeople focus on trying to manufacture
a need in a customer where none exists. We may, however, be able to bring
existing needs to the surface simply by clarifying the customers understanding
of the symptoms they are experiencing. Many people make a very good living
out of helping people identify which particular need may be causing a symptom,
then advising them on how to alleviate it. This includes not only medical
doctors but also good salespeople.
2. Tailor your goods and services to meet
those needs at a fair price.
3. Ensure a long term relationship by attaining
The most skilled salesperson will guide
a customer through a discovery process designed to uncover and articulate
the customers needs and wants. In addition, the effective salesperson will
help the customer reach an understanding of the consequences of inaction
plus the value in making a change. The more clearly your customer sees
the depth of the ramifications of inaction, plus the range of positive
benefits of taking action, the more likely they are to want to do something
about it. This is called "tension for change". The customer who has decided
that they have a need and that they really wish to do something about it,
will then be in a position to seek solutions.
Tailor your goods and services to meet
those needs at a fair price For most businesses, offering generic products
and services is a recipe for disaster. With the vast array of choices available,
customers want a solution that is right for them in their own special situation.
Frequently, this can be accomplished by listening carefully to the needs
and wants of your customers, then packaging a combination of your products
and services that specifically addresses those customer's needs.
To do this requires these skills:
* the ability to understand what
the customer wants, and recognize the core issues and peripheral issues
that are important to them;
Develop a long term relationship by attaining
customer satisfaction Truly effective salespeople succeed because they
are genuinely curious and concerned about people in general - and customers
in particular. Their desire to understand the customer takes priority over
their desire to sell their products and services. The delightful irony,
of course, is that the very reason they are successful at selling is because
they have made their desire to sell a secondary issue. The primary issue
is the relationship they have with their customer.
* the ability to identify the relevant
features of your products and services that are appropriate for this customer;
* ability to communicate the specific
benefits, gained by using your products and services, that are meaningful
to this customer;
* willingness to deliver the package of
products and services with emphasis on the desired results expected by
The surest way to cement a long term business
relationship with your customer is to remember that no sale is completed
until the customers expectations have been met or, preferably, exceeded.
There are many salespeople who take customers for granted. The excitement
of new sales often leads to ignoring existing customers. The result is
constant pressure to create new business from scratch. Meanwhile, some
of your best prospects are right there under your nose, in your own customer
The "traditional", fast-talking slick sales
person is no longer effective in today's global marketplace. Dynamic and
highly competitive, our market consists of well educated, savvy consumers
looking to the modern salesperson for guidance in making well-informed
buying decisions. Those unwilling or unable to adapt not only experience
declining sales, but also risk severing long-term customer relationships.
The challenge is enormous and the stakes are high.
Remember, customers buy for their reasons,
not ours. When we strive to form a partnership with our customers, providing
them with valuable help and advice as well as supplying vital products
and services, we virtually ensure sales success.
Gary Lockwood is a Business Coach, Speaker
and Publisher of the BizSuccess Coaching Program. He can be reached toll-free
at 1-800-272-1575 or email For
details from our autoresponder, email BizCoach@infoback.net
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