Selling Isn't Telling

Less is More -- everyone has heard this old adage.  In sales, this definitely rings true.  I just wrapped up a sales meeting with a sales rep who did a great job describing all the features of their product and also introduced a few benefits, but a true connection, moving the relationship and accordingly the opportunity to the next level wasn’t made.  If the customer or prospect is taking time out of their busy day, they are interested but they also want you to be interested in them.

Think about the many conversational exchanges that you’ve experienced over the last few days.  Which ones stand out and which ones couldn’t end fast enough.  It’s no different in sales, and I would argue, the larger or more strategic the sales opportunity, the longer you will have to invest in the relationship.

I’m currently working with a SaaS client who previously relied on SEO, SEM, and other lead generation strategies as their sales remained stagnant for months.  I suggested that we change things a bit, for all key accounts let’s schedule calls, drill into their requirements and identify why they’ve started trials.  No surprise, sales started to tick up with these key accounts.  Customers want to know that they are listened to and that they are helping shape the decision.

Success in sales starts with asking the right questions.

Selling really is simple.  Selling is about communication – First understanding and then articulating the value you can bring to your prospective customer.

However, value is subjective, so in order to understand what someone else values you have to first ask the right questions.

Start with some probing questions early in the meeting and adjust your presentation accordingly.  Even if you are referred in and the prospect has a level of comfort with you, take your time and get to know them before you start to sell.

Keep it conversational.  Most sales people talk AT prospects – successful sales people talk WITH them.

Next, go beyond the general needs and budget questions.  Clearly understand the purchasing process and decision making criteria.  Often times, it’s not all about the money.

Just for a minute, imagine you being the prospect.  You’ve been there before.  Think about when you bought your last car, your last home, your last high tech gadget.  If you’re a business executive or founder, what was important to you?  What business initiatives were you executing?  Are you struggling with the competition?  Are you achieving desired market growth?  You get the idea.  The point is that unless you think like your prospect and really do some digging, some good old fashioned questioning, it will be almost impossible to know what is really important to them.

Engagement happens when you get people to tell you what’s important to them.  What they need.  What they want.  What their obstacles are.

How do you know what to recommend to a prospective customer if you don’t know what they truly want, need or can afford?

This is a major difference between the top 10%, the startups and sales teams who blow out their forecast numbers and the remaining 90% who can’t understand why they aren’t closing enough business.

It really is this simple.

Selling isn’t Telling.