Who likes Girls Scout Cookies? The courageous young lady knocks on the door and asks, “Would you like to buy some Girl Scout Cookies?”. Of course, I say, “yes”. She responds, “Which ones would you like?”. Successful sales professionals hear the customer! They capture the order. They return with the goods when it is time to deliver. The fundamentals are mindlessly straightforward. The success is spectacular with over $700 million in Girls Scout Cookies purchased in 2015. For more complex products and services, return to the fundamentals. Bring a solution to a problem that exists, even if you must bring awareness to the problem. My grown daughters were Girls Scouts. The nostalgia is worth $3.50 per box. I feel younger buying them. And, the Thin Mints are addictive!
Successful sales people hear the customer because they are the ones listening. Sales greatness is more than scripts, seven-step programs, and great closing techniques. It results from emotional connection at a personal level. In business, that emotion ranges from my vice-president believes in that product and he will reward me favorably for recognizing his preference. Or, that service frees more time for my staff so that we can be less stressed next quarter. Realize that the product benefits are real. But, the individual benefits drive decisions.
To interpret decision drivers, effective sales professional must insightfully question. Costs always matter, but not equally in every instance. Ask questions to determine the value that the prospect truly wants to receive from the purchase. What is the real value for a convenient hotel room at the most important conference for your customers? Question to understand. Question to create urgency. Question to direct toward the solution that the customer absolutely wants, so that they conclude that they want you to give it to them.
The responses that the sales professional receives dictates the terms of the deal. To deliver what the prospect desires, the sales professional needs to have clarity regarding their priorities. Successful professionals must know their audience so that they can communicate in a way that individual prospects will receive information. Listening means interpreting with your head and your heart. The sales professional that only focuses on dollars misses the emotional connection that increases value.
On the other hand, the sales professional who only focuses on relationships which lead to like and trust, miss the urgency of consummating the transaction for optimal profit. Listening is essential to the dialogue that results in sales success. As the prospect talks, learn their needs, priorities, and hot buttons. Sales success requires guiding them to your solution. While you may guide them, they have to want to get there. Manipulation is shortsighted. Trust endures. Each effective sale based on thoroughly listening and understanding the customer makes the subsequent deal easier.
Sales success requires that questioning comes first. Then, invest more time listening. Question effectively. Listen intently. Satisfy the customer’s curiosity. Remember selling is helping. Help customers find the wisdom of your solution. Question to create understanding that your solution meets both spoken and unspoken needs. Listen to close. The customer will let you know. Be ready to hear their “yes”!
By Glenn W Hunter
Principal of Hunter And Beyond