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More sales discussion


salespersonWe all enjoy buying, but we do not want to be sold.  I was recently in a music store looking at some guitar accessories.  The salesperson walked over and said  “may I help you?”  And I said, (just like you do)..  “no thanks..  just looking.”

That’s despite the fact that I went in there to buy a guitar accessory.   Why did I say that?  Because, just like you, I don’t like being sold anything.

In Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn  after the townspeople figure out they’ve been conned by Huck and Jim’s  unwanted raft partners, they begin yelling “sold, we’ve been sold!”  That’s the same connotation we give to that word today.  And no one likes it.

But, every successful business needs to “sell” their products and services, right?

Peter Bourke wrote “Unselling: Sell Less and Win More” It’s a great book that I had our people read.  Peter, along with most other successful sales people and sales trainers contend that the first thing you should attempt with a prospect is NOT to sell him anything, but instead to offer him value.  In short, make it about him, and not about you.

Often,  even with the best of intentions, we fail at this simply because we don’t know what the prospect or customer really values.  It’s very easy to assume we do; and it’s a deadly mistake.

In the early days of our business, I was very proud of my own technical prowess in our field.  At the risk of sounding arrogant, I was very proficient in the electronic motor drive world, and enjoyed a national reputation  as a result.  And, it was unquestionably an advantage.

However, I was often distressed when a competitor I felt was technically inferior would steal a customer or land an account I was chasing.  “How could that prospect give the business to them, when I’m so much better?”

Over time, I came to understand that what I valued most, was not necessarily valued by prospects.  They expected a certain level of expertise, in fact, it was sort of the ticket to the game.  When I repaired equipment and it worked they were happy, but they also expected it.  When my competitor repaired it, and it worked, they were also happy.  Arguing technical nuances was not interesting to the customer, even though it was paramount with me.

We must learn what the customer values before we can be of value. Bourke makes the very valid point that there are times when what the prospect values or wants is not in his best interest, and we can offer the value of educating him.   But regardless, the starting point in that discussion is to learn what’s important to him now. Then by acting on what you learn, you can become a resource instead of salesperson.

How do you discover what’s important?  Well, start by listening.  Learning what a customer or prospect values is impossible with your mouth open.  Customers care about their business, not about yours.  The more you learn to care about their business, the better relationship you can build with them.

Jeffrey Gitomer says if you lose a job to an existing customer to a competitor, it simply means that competitor has a better relationship with that customer than you do. That’s a hard pill to swallow for many of us, but like most medicine, it does us good.

Here’s a few thoughts for you to consider:

  1. Why do people buy from you?  Don’t hurry through this, take the time to analyze.
  2. Why do they buy from your competition?
  3. What’s your specific market advantage?  This is something  very important to your customers, that you excel at.
  4. How many more people would buy from you IF ONLY they knew you existed?

How strongly do you believe in your product or service?  At our electronic motor drive company EMA Inc. we say that “No One, Anywhere, is Better at Drives than we are.”  I firmly believe that, and I often ask our team member if they do.  Often when we make mistakes, we will start by saying, “we must fix this in order to remain better at drives than anyone else.”  It’s part of our culture.

This isn’t something you can just say and then leave alone, it means that every day we have to inject energy and passion into what we do, and be certain that we are in fact as good as we say.

But here’s what it does for you in sales…   It gives you a belief that cannot be penetrated about the value you can bring to a prospect.  We firmly believe that in our niche market, prospects get more value in doing business with us than with anyone else in our field.

And that makes selling and doing business a lot more rewarding.  As Peter Bourke says..   sell less and win more.


Eddie Mayfield