You will not succeed in sales if you believe a time will come in your career when you can stop learning. The best salespeople are always looking for new ideas on how to become better at selling.
I used to say that too many salespeople don’t read enough about how to improve their selling skills and strategies—and I would jokingly point out that golf magazines don’t count. Since you are reading this, you are the exception.
Here are two simple but effective ways to sell more:
1. Don’t confuse what you want to say with what a prospect should hear
Some salespeople are so enthusiastic about their products and services that they want their prospects to hear everything about the products. These salespeople talk with their prospects about product specifications, what the products will do, and how the products work. Some people would call this a “data dump.”
Let me give you an example. An industrial products salesperson will talk about a gear oil’s specs. He might mention why the specs are important, then he’ll discuss how the product works in a machine. What’s the problem? The salesperson didn’t ask the prospect what they cared about. The salesperson didn’t ask if the prospect was having a gear problem that related to the need for a particular gear-oil specification. Why would a prospect care about how the product works if that wasn’t the problem in the first place?
Ask about gear performance if you suspect your prospect might have gear problems, and be sure to find out what your prospect’s performance problem is that relates to your products. Then you can talk about your products and what they can do for the customer.
Some technical sales professionals forget that not all prospects are as technical as they are. Let’s say you do uncover a prospect’s gear problem. They are experiencing premature differential wear that’s costing their maintenance department excessive amounts of money. Would you explain the merits of your product to a purchasing agent the same way you would to the plant engineer? I’ve seen some technical professionals go into way too much detail. You can see their prospect’s eyes glaze over.
Some people only want to know what time it is; they don’t want to know how to build a watch. Even you understand it all, spare them the details of how to build the watch and just tell them the time.
2. Adopt the policy “Don’t tell, do ask”
You might remember the old military policy of “Don’t ask, don’t tell.” It may be gone in the military, but it’s half-right for sales.
Too many salespeople tell their prospects the problems they believe the prospects are experiencing. The salesperson thinks that once the prospect hears the problem, they will understand how important it is to act quickly and address it.
What’s wrong with that? The salesperson has logically presented an issue to their prospect, but didn’t present it emotionally. The result is the prospect isn’t emotionally invested in solving the problem—even if it’s negatively affecting them. Rather than telling, it’s much more effective when a salesperson is asking. When a prospect answers a question they are asked, it motivates them to act. So the official policy for salespeople should probably be “Don’t tell, do ask.”