Sitting with this prospective customer is embarrassing. They must be wondering what in the world I am doing just awkwardly sitting here silent wile my boss does all the talking. Why does my boss do this to me? I have so much to say and I need to tell the customer why they should buy from us. Right?
I spent countless hours gathering printing samples to show our quality work, practicing my sales pitch and I can out-talk any customer or prospect with my golden tongue! And yet, here I sit, not allowed to dazzle the prospect with my presentation!
As for him, he never shows a sample, doesn’t even have a briefcase and he just sits there asking questions. He doesn’t ask for the sale and ends the visit with a promise to return with ideas. Absurd!
This is a true experience that I had years ago as a young salesperson. If I talked too much during a sales call or customer visit, which was often, my boss and mentor would not allow me to speak during the next visit. Among the many things I have to thank my mentor for is that he forced me to be quiet, listen and actually hear the customer! When I finally understood the value of this approach I realized why he was so successful. He would tell me to “put down my megaphone.”
He actually heard the customer’s needs and provided a customized solution. Over 25 years later, this somehow sounds cliché and not like a new idea anymore. While many people today talk about listening and providing customized solutions, the practice of actually doing it on a consistent basis still eludes many sales professionals.
For those of you who would like to adopt or improve your solutions-based approach, I can provide some tips for you to consider:
- PUT DOWN THE MEGAPHONE AND LISTEN!
- Practice the art of listening and actually hearing in all aspects of your life so it becomes a habit.
- Live your life with curiosity! If you are truly curious, you will want to hear what other people have to say.
- Develop a system that prompts you to think about listening before an important meeting.
- Create reminders for yourself to practice daily, even in less important situations.
- Sell solutions, not products or services.
- Solutions-based selling requires patience for the sale – it is worth it!
- Don’t take yourself so seriously when trying something new, it may feel awkward at first.
For many sale professionals this is a major change to your approach and requires work well beyond what I cover in this post. Find a mentor, hire a coach, read obsessively, take a class….find what works for you and then practice, practice, practice!
For those of you that this is not new, I hope this a good reminder so you stay focused on listening!
For those of you who do not have the title of “sales”, this can still apply to any successful meeting, conversation or negotiation.
Remember, megaphones do no not sell, curiosity sells!