Do you remember the days when there would be a knock at your door and when you opened it, a man was standing there with a phony smile and a vacuum cleaner? He would begin his spiel about how great the vacuum cleaner was and how it was a real deal. Typically, this doesn’t happen anymore, but it’s this image that leads some to believe that most salespeople cannot be trusted, they just want to sell you something.
This vacuum cleaner seller is a product pusher, who is doing all the talking and not a solutions provider.
Too often we hear sales managers say, “My team is talking to their customers/prospects about the feature of the month.” Product pushers. How could you possibly know if your customer is interested in the feature of the month if all you do is talk?
Steven Covey said, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”
Salespeople with a “solutions provider” mindset engage their customers in a two-way dialogue because they know monologues are boring, and as a salesperson, they do not learn anything. The benefits of two-way dialogue are that:
- You build trust by asking questions
- Active listening leads to understanding
And the real advantages are:
- You collect valuable details that will help you provide the right solution
- You are controlling the conversation
- The right mix of open and closed-ended questions uncover further details
Keep in mind that:
- Open-ended questions generally start with the five w’s: “What will your business look like six months from now?” or “How is the current method of delivery affecting your business?”
- Closed-ended questions help you get to the point and generally produce a “yes” or “no” response: “Do you currently have a VP of sales?”
- Questions help uncover concerns. These go straight to the real issue although first you need to have a sense of the issue: “What happens if you don’t fix it?”
- Feeling-finding questions are more about your prospect/customer’s opinion than the facts: “Do you feel that will make a positive difference?”
Ask yourself: Am I a solutions provider or a product pusher? If you believe you are a product pusher, the good news is that now you are aware of it. The second key question is: Why am I talking? Knowledge is power and listening allows you to acquire knowledge.