You Have to be Credible
There's a new order in the sales profession. The information economy is quickly making conventional sales people at risk of being irrelevant and condemning them to the lower pegs of customer's time and patience because of easier, alternative options for information. Without a virtual monopoly on information, many mainstream sales people have lost their "reason for being."
Faced with this new order, very few sales people have adopted new sales strategies other than brute force and the idea they'll go down swinging before they quit.
Sales organizations have to get their sales people to create profound and engaging meeting experiences if they're going to be viewed as critical resources or as indispensable advisors.
The following are some of my favorite quotes, paradoxes, ironies and truisms that represent a new world order in sales.
- "The lower you go in the food chain, the more customers want to hear about the seller's business. The higher up the food chain, the more customers want to hear about their business," says Mack Hanan.
- When positioned properly all offerings are intangibles. Sales people often position even intangibles as tangibles. The reality is sales people are selling their offering as tangibles and customers are buying them as intangibles.
- "Most sales people don't need to learn to sell, they need to unlearn how to sell," says Mark Anthony.
- Conventional sellers are using the wrong means for the right end. They have a genuine interest to help customers, but mess it up with their desire for a positive outcome for themselves.
- "One should only be as committed to sell as your customer is to buy or change," says John Hirth.
- "If you do not bring up your product, your customer is less inclined not to bring up price," says Rob Joles.
- "Yes is the destination, no is how you get there," says Richard Fenton. No is an integral part of the yes process. Don't cower from it. Make it accessible to customers. You can't get an unconditional yes without making no a viable alternative.
- How many sales people would listen to their customers talk if they didn't know their turn was next?
- "You got to believe! You're still not salesman of the year. You know what your problem is? You don't have the right attitude. What you need is positive thinking. Wrong! A positive attitude is what a logician would call a necessary but insufficient condition for sale success. The rah-rah motivational approach to selling leads nowhere in today's frenzied, competitive economy. What you need to be is confident about an effective, verifiable sales process," says Stephen Miller.
- "Your ability to control and direct the thinking of your prospect is directly related to your ability to control and direct your own thinking," says Tim Connor.
- The reason your customers treat you like a commodity is because you treat them (unwittingly) as a commodity.
- Troubleshooting, problem identification, problem creation and problem-shooting will consistently outperform problem solving and resolution.
- The wider the access and the more information you obtain about your customer's problems, the less information your customer will require from you.
- Feature and benefit selling is simply the "triumph of the lowest common denominator" and the "master of the obvious." That's why it fails so miserably.
- "Sales people have been misled, mistaught and mistrained to know what to say and what to do but not how to think differently," says Bill Caskey. Another challenge is their gut instincts aren't aligned with their scripted sales approach. They sell in a way that goes against the grain of their inner beliefs. That's why so many sales people are uncomfortable with many elements of the profession.
- Thought-provoking questions insulate and protect you from the disastrous urge and temptation to sell.
- "What is," "what if," "what could be" is child's play in the world of sales compared to "what isn't." "What isn't" is what motivates prospects to buy. "What could be" is what motivates sales people to sell. Therein lies the conflict of interest in sales calls.
- Success in sales is never letting your solution and offering define you.
- Your products and services are absolutely and unequivocally unique just like everyone else. Everyone is selling the exact same differences.
- "Solving your clients business problems is no longer an effective sales strategy. The successful sales people in today's marketplace and the marketplace of tomorrow will be creative problem creators," says Marc Miller.
- Most sales people wouldn't want to be sold to in the same manner in which they sell.
- Until you know exactly what your customer is buying and why, you don't know what exactly you're selling and why you're selling it.
- You need to make yourself equal and trustworthy before you can hope to make yourself compelling and different.
- Conventional sales people sell to showcase their products and services. Strategic sellers use their products and services as a platform to deliver business value through identifying unrecognized problems and opportunities and assessing the pros and cons of changing.
- "What made you unique yesterday, makes you a commodity today, and extinct tomorrow, unless you adapt to change," says Lee Salz.
- "If you don't get involved in the customer's business and problems, you probably won't be involved in their solution," says Mack Hanan.
- Sales people don't probe for the truth because they believe the center of influence and truth lies with themselves and their product's superiority, not with the truth of their customer's situation and their pressing problems.
- Customers too often are comfortably uncomfortable and will not change, and yet at the same time will give you few clues as to their true intentions.
- All customer's problems are 100% relative. This should be your starting point for every sales call when you evaluate customer's problems.
- "If you don't treat current clients like prospective clients, they will become former clients, " says Randy Illig.
- You have to undo lack of trust before you can build trust.
- "You cannot control your prospects state of mine, but you can influence it by addressing and correcting your state of mind," says Dave Kurlan.
- Customers are more interested in unburdening their problems, than they are in finding a resolution or a final solution to their problems. Small but very important distinction. Unburdening carries far more weight than the resolution.
- Are you rejecting your customers unwittingly? "Unfortunately most sales people accept information that only confirms what they know. They generalize, distort and delete new information until it confirms their preconceptions. Customers reject these types of self – serving sales people because by their actions, they reject their customers," says David Jensen.
- The best presentation is the customer presenting their problems to you.
- Customers don't get the right outcomes because they don't ask the right questions. It's the job of the seller to help them ask the right questions. Sellers need to better understand the thing they're trying to fix as opposed to the thing they're trying to achieve. The former must be understood before the latter can be properly understood.
- Is your job to motivate people to change, or to understand what will motivate someone to change? Less than 2% of sales people have the natural gift and leadership skills to pierce and penetrate through entrenched beliefs and convictions of their customers. Most sales people, armed with the right questions and intentions, can guide customers to natural conclusions if the customer is open-minded. The idea then is to use questions, not to sell more, but to assess if clients will buy.
- The more product information you push, the more vulnerable you'll be to customer's resistance.
- Selling by its very nature so often produces the exact opposite effect. The harder you sell, the harder it is to sell.
- Don't be a sales person who sells business offerings . Be a business person who sells.
- The aha moment, the moment of truth, the moment of eureka is when obstructions to the realization of the truth have been removed for your customer. Customers will change and buy more quickly and easier when you chip away the hurdles and the barriers to change than when you press your proof of concept.
Richard Farrell is President of Tangent Knowledge Systems, a national sales development and training
firm based in Chicago. He is the author of the upcoming book Selling has Nothing to do with Selling. He trains and speaks around the world and has authored many articles on his unique non-selling sales posture.