Selling is a combination of both art and science. It requires intelligence, curiosity, study, and practice. Unfortunately too many books have been written by self-proclaimed gurus who are running around promoting persuasion, influence and manipulation. As a life-long sales professional I cringe when I hear these tactics being promoted as the Holy Grail of selling. Learn how to persuade a buyer and you’ll be golden. Wrong. Persuasion is only temporary if it’s not grounded in something more significant or substantive to the buyer. While beating the buyer into submission is one way to approach sales I’d suggest a much different path. Something that requires a fair amount of mental horsepower, patience and agility. This approach can be summed up in one question…So What?
Sales people have been trained…brainwashed…into force feeding a prospect through a rigid selling process. The problem is that most sales processes are inward focused and aligned to what their organization does and is capable of delivering. They rarely take the customers viewpoint into consideration. This results in the sales person trying to find a way to wiggle into the prospective buyers wallet, often times not knowing or caring whether there is a real or tangible need for their product.
So how can you avoid falling into the stereotypical sales rep persona? Ask this one questions before and after your customer interactions – So what? This product has a 98% satisfaction rating! So what? My company has been around for 100 years. So what? We pay the highest commission rates in the industry. So what? I’ve helped many business owners like you improve their profits. So what?
I’m sure many of those statements sound familiar. You may have even used one or two of them before. But so what? What does your satisfaction rating mean to me the buyer? Why should I care? Too many times sales reps lob a one-liner out there and let it hang. They believe that it’s such a powerful statement that the buyer must believe it too, yet we know this isn’t the case.
Once you begin to challenge yourself with the “So What?” question you’ll find yourself having different conversations with your customer and asking different questions. You’ll begin to interact with your customer on a different level. Your genuine new-found interest in what’s important to your customer will be seen and felt. And while this may not guarantee a sale it will guarantee that you’ll be better prepared to separate the true prospects versus those who simply clog our pipelines who are not fits, matches, or beneficiaries of the value we provide. Having this power will help you close more business that is a true fit while quickly sorting through the business that isn’t, saving you time, money, and energy that you can then direct toward those prospects who can truly benefit from the value you offer.