Archive for September 2012

Back in the day, before the internet, salespeople were asked into the customer’s office because frequently there was a lot of value in having a meeting. How else was the customer going to find out what was new, what were the trends in the industry and where the market was going? OK, they could go to trade shows, seminars, or read the trade press – but there was nothing like an old fashioned sales meeting to work through the issues and come up with some solutions as to how to go forward.

 

In today’s world, the salesman enters at a far later stage in the sales process. As a result of the internet the customer can now research their situation, analyse the issues and more than likely have decided on probable solutions. The sales folks are then invited in – with the customer already knowledgeable about their product – to pitch and present. The result is often the salesman listening to the requirements and coming back with a quote for what’s needed. In the absence of any compelling differentiator it will come down to the emotions of the beauty parade and the price.

To break this ‘new world’ of buying and selling, salespeople need to bring some additional value and insight into the requirements for the customer. The customer may have only spent an hour or two on the internet researching the market, not the days and days the salesperson has in understanding the product or the years and years of real-world on the road experience of the problems that can be solved. So who is better at diagnosing the situation best? The customer or salesperson?

Additional value can be demonstrated during the questions that the salesman asks the prospect. The better the questions are at uncovering additional issues and needs the better. You need to show insight by asking questions and uncovering issues that the prospect has not thought through fully or possibly not even thought about. You need to move the goalposts of their perceived solution or situation. You need to disorientate them a little so they go back to the beginning and re-think their requirements, ideally in partnership with you. The more you reveal their assumptions and misunderstandings (the more you can show that the customer is wrong) the more value you bring to the meeting. Just like back in the day.

The customer is rarely 100% wrong. But in order to disrupt their buying process you need to understand that 100% of the time the customer is wrong in some area of their thinking. Find that, help them, bring value and insight and you are more than half-way there. I believe that customers make up their mind as to whether they are happy to do business with you during the questioning phase of that first meeting.

Asking the right questions has never been more important than it is today in proving that “The Customer Is Always Wrong”

Happy Selling