Challenge: Read the article below in 4 minutes, and use the 5th minute to think of a situation where you can revamp your mindset to add value to your customer!
A long-time salesperson (Tracy) and an up and coming sales professional (Jaime) were having an impromptu sales meeting at a coffee shop. Tracy wagered the price of the coffee for next week’s meeting that he had a sales analogy that would improve Jaime’s sales. Jaime was always up for a wager and some wisdom, and agreed with the caveat that she had a sales story as well that was worth 1,000 times the price of coffee, but would settle for coffee next week as compensation. Intrigued, they both shook on the deal and Tracy started.
“How do you sell someone that is hard of hearing a chicken?” asked Tracy.
“I don’t know” responded Jaime.
“Well, you take your right hand and make kind of a “C” shapelike this. Next, is for you to place your hand next to the right side of your mouth, like this. Finally, you get close to the person and yell ‘HEY, DO YOU WANT TO BUY A CHICKEN’!” and see what they say.
“You see Jaime, you just need to tell enough people what you are selling and ask enough people for the sale. If you get them to hear you enough times and you will eventually sell some stuff. Over time you will get better at asking and get tougher skin and make a decent living like me”. With that Tracy smiled and said that he preferred his coffee black.
Jaime was shaking her head and had an expression that was hard to describe. Tracy had learned this piece of wisdom from his mentor, and it had paid off for him with a decent living. “What?” said Tracy, “Do you have something better?”.
“Hundreds of thousands of drills and lawnmowers were sold last year, and only a handful of buyers actually wanted those products” stated Jaime. “If you can answer why, I’ll buy coffee for the rest of the year. If not, you owe me coffee next week” said Jaime.
Tracy thought about it for a few minutes and he smiled and concluded “Because the sales folks got them to buy the mowers and drills. The customers might not have really needed or wanted the products at the time but the sales folks closed the deals just the same”.
“Not so much” said Jaime, “the buyers wanted the hole the drill made and their grass a certain height. They don’t care about the drill or the mower, those are just to tools they used to get the desired result. If you sold them grass seed that only grew to their desired height and had all of the characteristics they wanted for their lawn then the mower would become obsolete.”
Jamie continued, “Convincing someone to buy something they don’t want or need creates bad blood and bad relationships, and damages your reputation far beyond that one customer or family. As sales professionals we solve problems for our customers that they cannot solve themselves, and we do so through our products and services”.
Tracy thought back on all of his best and worst deals over the past few years, and saw the painful truth in those statements. His best customers, the ones that were repeat buyers and he had a good relationship with, all had scenarios where he solved their problems with products and services that met their needs. The deals that went south or never came to be all flooded back into Tracy’s mind, and he saw how damaging chasing commissions and pushing product to make more money was to his overall success.
Whether you are selling ideas, products or services, the solutions that you propose and provide must always provide an answer to your customers’ problems. You can re-frame your mindset by asking yourself
“What is my customer trying to accomplish and how does my solution help them meet that need?”
Whether it’s chickens, cars, software, websites, consulting services, coaching, mowers, or drills, your customers are in need of solutions to specific problems they are facing. A true professional will find them the best solutions to these challenges and will provide value at every interaction possible.
Now figure out what problems are currently being faced in your organization or sales scenario, and find the solution that solves for the true challenge being faced by your customer.