You Will Get Truthful Answers
When You Start Giving Truthful Questions
A non-selling posture tries to see everything with an open and expansive mind and without personal and product identification. It neither attacks or defends. Attacking and defending ends up being the same thing; a weakness. Attacking your competition or vigorously defending your offering only marginalizes your selling position. The only time to justify your authority is when you attack your customer's problems by getting to the root causes and helping them assess the cost of changing.
The non-selling posture is all about being centered and grounded. There are no wide extremes of blue skying your product attributes, or wildly defending against objections and resistance, because you cannot be in the right, or be right, while at the same time repudiating what is wrong, or opposing others who are wrong and misinformed.
When one is centered one ends up accepting their customers for who they are and honoring them for whatever position they may be in. Do not think you know what ultimately is best for them. You never will. There are too many variables and unknowns that you will never have access to. When you stop imposing your will on your customers, you stop complaining and taking it personally when they do not heed your advice. This is very refreshing for most sales people who find many elements of selling to be manipulative, overly aggressive, frustrating and even cheesy.
Do not confuse a non-selling posture with being passive, apathetic, inactive and nonchalant. The non-selling posture is a powerful tool that gets customers to exchange sensitive and important information because the sales person is nonthreatening, disarming, balanced in their approach and authentic in their desire to uncover the truth.
The non-selling posture allows you and your customer to confront one of their biggest fears upfront – the truth. It seems that everyone is running from the potential of either giving bad news, or receiving bad news. "When reps look for nothing but good news, that's typically all they will find," says Tim Wachel. They are addicted to "hopeium" (hope of good news). They cannot flush out bad news because they resist the truth at all cost.
A strategic sales person is like a forensic tax investigator. They do not take anything at face value, they sniff around for clues and evidence, they are always looking for patterns of behavior, looking for true motives and looking for contradictory statements and evidence.
The reality is customers will give you more truthful answers if you give them more truthful questions; questions that are fair-minded and unbiased. You will also get to the truth quicker when you temper your enthusiasm. "Enthusiasm is contagious" is an old and archaic sales tenet. Today, enthusiasm is contagious, and it is a killer. Enthusiastic selling's fatal flaw is a loss of objectivity and credibility. It is very difficult to be enthusiastic and at the same time explore and expose serious problems. It is totally out of context. Enthusiastic selling has a very limited place in the information economy where customers are not looking for enthusiastic packaging of product information, but are looking more for insight and understanding.
"Sales people who fear hearing the truth or bad news are really asking questions as if they are saying; Mr. Prospect, please spare my feelings by telling me what I want to hear," says Tom Freese. Ask questions that customers are afraid to ask of themselves. Questions that appear to weaken the sales person's position or negotiating posture generally will be viewed as risk-free on the part of the customer and therefore they are more likely to answer it truthfully.
Control and power over customers are weaknesses disguised as strengths. A non-selling posture is achieved when one refuses all forms of external authority and control. One's selling position becomes more tenuous when one wants credit, control, ownership and validation. Keep in mind to remain in charge of a sales call, you need to give up being in charge.