Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Seek And Ye Shall Find..

I've received a number of calls over the last week from various organisations trying to sell me products or services. One thing they all had in common was that they were too focussed on telling and not enough on selling.

Too many sales people are so full of information on how brilliant their product/service is, that they forget to ask what their customer needs. Instead of a productive two-way conversation, you get a monologue which has resulted in me simply hanging up on several occasions. Not only has the salesman lost a sale, he or she has also lost my goodwill towards their company. What will it take to get that back?

So what do you need to do? The answer is simple - ask questions. Draw information out of the customer about what it is they need and then describe your product in those terms.

Two interesting cases:

My mother wanted to get a mobile phone, so I took her to the outlet of one of the UK's largest mobile operators. The young assistant greeted us and then immediately moved over to the latest gadgeted wonder that they had. He didn't take the time to ask what my mother needed (basically a mobile with large keys and screen so she could see what she was doing). What she didn't need was a mobile which could browse the internet, tell her where she was through GPS or allow her to watch video clips. When the assistant finally finished some minutes later, I had to bring him back to earth and take him through the process of finding out what she actually needed (and was prepared to pay for). We got the phone, but that assistant had wasted his time (and ours) and could have lost a sale or ended up with an unhappy customer who had been sold a mobile that wasn't suitable.

The second story happened a few days ago. A van turned up at our house at 6.15pm and the owner wanted to introduce his quality frozen food business. Before he could launch into his pitch, I said we were due to go out at 6.30pm, so could he hurry? He obligingly did, but started by showing frozen fish. After several minutes, my wife informed him that I wasn't a fish eater. He had just wasted his limited time trying to sell something that we wouldn't buy. He'd have done better to ask first what we ate and then moved to the product that would interest us most.

This all seems so simple to avoid, but how often do we fall into the trap of telling and not selling? What counts isn't the product, but the customer and what they want.



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