A young man and woman meet at a fancy restaurant for a date. The bachelor begins the conversation by saying “So, do you like the restaurant? I just earned a ton of commissions so I thought I’d go somewhere nice. Did you know that won employee of the month? How do you like my suit? It’s Armani…” Yuck! As disgusting as this person sounds, this is exactly what many sales consultants do when meeting prospects for the first time, except it sounds more like this:
“Hi, my name is John from XYZ Co. We are the top provider of widgets in our industry. The company has been in business for over 40 years, and provide the highest quality parts and best service…” Why is this approach so ineffective? What is the alternative? How can we show we are the best without saying so?
Why “selling more” doesn’t work
Over the years, buyers have grown accustomed to sales consultants touting their greatness. Everyone is saying they have the highest quality with the best service. These words no longer hold the meaning they once had. Furthermore, talking about your company’s greatness makes you sound just like everyone else. If all the vendors have the highest quality and best service, the decision will have to come down to who has the lowest price!
The Alternative: Focus on the client
There’s a saying: “Telling isn’t selling.” This is true because buyers make purchases for their reasons, not ours. If the sales consultant doesn’t understand the needs, pains, and goals of the client, how can they possibly show that the product meets their requirements?
Enter consultative selling. Instead of telling clients all about how great we are, we ask questions to understand their perspective. We research their company and find out why they are great, and how they might become greater. When (and ONLY when) you have sufficient information do you recommend a course of action.
The first will come last, the last will come first
It’s a paradox: the less you talk about how great your company is, the more people will think so. You can show that you are superior by putting your client’s interests first. Undoubtedly there will be a time to talk about your company’s credentials, but this comes only after you have discovered your client’s needs.
Here’s the caveat: being humble does not mean downplaying your strengths, but by being honest and accurate about them. State where you are stronger than your competitors, but be equally as willing to state areas that you will not meet their needs. This level of candour will increase how much your clients trust you.
Talking about how great our company is won’t get you sales. Instead, we need to be client focused and humble. The next time you go on a date (or sales meeting), try focusing on the other person and see what a difference it makes!
Music credit: “Straight” – bensound.com