A funny thing happens as sales people become more and more experienced with their company or product. They also become less and less effective.
At first glance, it would seem that the exact opposite should be true. Yet it still happens time and time again. How can this be?
The simple fact is, as we gain more knowledge, we also start to make more assumptions. And we all know what we make out of “u” and “me” when we start to assume.
When we become intimately familiar with something, we begin to mistakenly assume that the customer likewise understands what we’re talking about. We assume that every customer problem is the same as one of the others we’ve already heard before. We start to imagine that our customers are complaining about price just because the competition has launched a new price schedule. And we also suspect that, because of our experience, we know more about how we can help our customers than they do.
The end result? As we begin to rely more on what we assume or imagine to be true (and less on what the facts actually are), we become less and less effective as sales people.Now, let’s be clear: all these assumptions might be right. But they could also be wrong. In fact, odds are, they could be wrong as much as 50% of the time. Can you – or any sales person – afford to be wrong half the time?
Once we understand the dangers of this trend, how do we go about reversing it?
First, we need to change our mindset. It goes without saying that you will know much more about the products and services you sell than your prospect does. But does that really matter? Remember that your prospect doesn’t buy for your reasons; they only buy for their own.
So how can you find out what reasons will motivate each new prospect to buy? There’s only one way I know of, and that’s by asking questions – not providing information.
Each time I speak about this trend and its disastrous effect on sales, I inevitably run into at least one skeptic, and a good conversation ensues. I remember one particularly persistent doubter, Lisa, who had come to us for coaching to boost her performance.
Lisa was an experienced telesales rep who worked in New York, and had clients all over the West Coast of the United States. Lisa was what might affectionately be called a “fast talker.” She was very excited, and truly loved the products she sold. She was also an expert in her field, and never turned down an opportunity to tell her customers all about it.
Yet although Lisa had always achieved her sales targets through a combination of hard work and persistence, she had never been able to make the breakthrough that would help her exceed her goals on a consistent basis.
After working together for some time, I began to notice that Lisa always sold her products the same way and with the same messages, regardless of who the client was. She was convinced that, because of the depth of her knowledge, she knew exactly why people needed her products, and she wasn’t afraid to tell them.
One day on a coaching call, I asked Lisa how she was feeling. She said not great, she had this cold that wouldn’t go away, and her sore throat was making it difficult to talk. I told her I was sorry she was sick, and she responded:
“Actually, it’s been great! For the past week I’ve had such low energy levels that I haven’t wanted to talk to my clients. Instead, I’ve been asking the questions, and letting them talk to me.”
“Because I’m a bit sluggish, it takes me a little longer to respond, which is allowing me to listen better and hear more of what my clients want. I’m amazed at some of the reasons I’m hearing about why people are buying our products. I would never have thought to sell them that way. In fact, most of our clients are using the products in ways I would never have thought possible.”
This week think about Lisa’s experience and apply it to your own sales. How can you incorporate more questions into your sales routine? What can you do to reduce the amount of talking you do?
Tomorrow we will dissect Lisa’s experience and you can compare your ideas to hers and try something new as well!
Dedicated to increasing your sales,
2 responses to “How being Wrong can Lead to Greater Sales”
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