Your Product is Unique Just Like Everyone Else's
Our whole economy is shifting to the higher end of knowledge workers. This is where the future is and where the premiums will be found in products and careers. Those sales people who know how to leverage their intellectual capital will be the survivors and the winners in this new information economy.
Traditional selling strategies impedes knowledge rather than revealing it. "It's the job of the buyer to generate content (information) not the other way around. Until now it has been the opposite, with the seller taking control of the content," says Sharon Drew Morgen.
Your job is not to fill their cup up. Your job is to empty their cup. To bring and make way for new information and new ideas, you must have customers release old information and old beliefs. If their cup is pouring over, no new information will be able to be absorbed. So your job is to first empty their cup with questions and then wait to see if they want it to be filled up again with possible options and new alternatives.
Not only is it inefficient to drink water from a firehose, it is impossible to believe that your customers can retain and process the product dump you often leave with them. Traditional sales people love the act of selling, convincing and persuading, because it is so psychologically rewarding, and as long as they are selling and telling, they believe they are in control and have the upper hand. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Customers have short time horizons and even shorter attention spans. Do not waste your valuable intellectual capital in hoping your customers will find it interesting and memorable to hear your product pitch. Rather, use your product knowledge primarily as a tool to get, not to give information. "The number one value of your information is its ability to be used as a tool to get more valueable and proprietary information," says David Starr.
Mainstream sales people so often fancy themselves as business consultants and true customer advocates, but in reality they are just company and product advocates. Most sales people are only customer advocates once they have successfully converted their prospective customer into a buying customer where they can shower them with superior hands-on customer service. Until then all bets are off. If sales people were really customer advocates they would manage their information much differently in the initial discovery process. Too many orthodox sales people believe the discovery process is all about the customer discovering new information about the sales person's products and services.
Oscar Wilde once wrote, "The problem with socialism is it requires too many meetings." The problem with traditional selling is it requires too much selling, persuading and information overload at the expense of the customer. Mainstream sales people too often are self-centered, clenched-fisted persuaders who bring questionable value to the table.
In our legal system during cross examination a lawyer is not allowed to make direct statements. Everything must be done in a question format to prove one's case. Imagine if the profession of selling had comparable restrictions. If we were limited by procedural law in not making direct statements, we would be far more credible and believable. The power of implication (questions) is far more powerful than the assault of direct selling points.
"It's not what you don't know that hurts you. It's what you know that ain't so," said Will Rogers. Come to a sales call with a blank slate. That is far more effective than having an agenda. Once you are there it will be far more important to find out what you do not know, than to waste valuable time telling customers what you do know. What you know can hurt you because your vast knowledge can make customers unacknowledged and unengaged. When they feel this way they tend to resist you more, or worse yet get rid of you.
With all the noise pollution and posturing in sales it is best to differentiate yourself and your offering by what you do not say, as opposed to what you do say. Easily 95% of all sales people look alike and sound alike. Everyone is singing from the exact same hymnbook, touting the exact identical attributes. Everyone is unique just like everyone else.
Most sales people unwittingly put themselves in "commodity hell" by the way they mismanage their information, and then by how they passionately fight like hell to stay in "commodity hell." What they work so hard to prevent (commoditization), they actually create.