The word connotes getting someone to buy your stuff, solution, or expertise – but the direction is all wrong. After making many mistakes in the sales process, I’m finally beginning to learn what works and what doesn’t; here’s a few takeaways that may be helpful to you.
This doesn’t work…
Don’t think of it as selling to someone, rather it is get people to buy from you. A seemingly small semantic change makes all the difference, because the focus shifts from you to them.
People buy because they want or need the service or product. Sure, a few may buy just because they want you to go away and leave them alone, but they won’t buy again and probably won’t like what you sold them.
They buy because you have something that solves their problem, obvious or not. That problem may be they can’t achieve their objectives using current provider networks, they need to expand into other regions but don’t have the infrastructure, their addressable market is shrinking and they need to find another source of revenue.
How many times have you actually figured out exactly what the buyer’s problem is? Not their employer’s problem, but the buyer’s? Because it’s not unusual to find out what works for the buyer is different from what you think is the best solution for their employer.
When you approach selling from the buyer’s perspective, it forces a completely different focus. Here’s what I see as keys:
- Ask questions. Ask more questions. Then ask even more questions.
- Until you are ready to close the deal, Do NOT talk about what your company does for more than 15 seconds. No one cares about your history, awards, building, number of employees, or mission.
- People buy, companies don’t. Figure out what’s important to the buyer(s), and why. Don’t get caught up in the “but this is the best solution to your problem” trap; if the buyer believed that they would be writing the check.
- Powerpoint (and other types of) presentations are too often a crutch, take way too much time to prepare, and are rarely helpful. Avoid them until you can present a buyer-specific solution.
- Do not present your solution UNTIL the buyer has helped you design a solution that s/he believes is the best answer.
There’s a lot more to this, but I’ll leave you with this: when the buyer is talking you should be listening really hard, and when you are talking, you should be asking questions.
Be this guy…