Ask and Observe
What is the single biggest tool in a salesperson’s arsenal that doesn’t cost a dime out of pocket? Inside info? Nope. A nice suit? Nah. Promotional items? Please….you’re embarrassing yourself.
The answer is…
Before you think the altitude on my flight to Ft. Lauderdale from Montreal Canada has made my brain work slower as I edit this nugget; simply ask your prospect/client a question.
By asking the right question in the correct formation, you are forcing them to think about the things you want or need them to think about without being intrusive.
Asking “what is your biggest concern in your company on a day to day basis?” to someone in need of furniture for their University’s remote campuses; will automatically give you what you need to focus on in order to properly and best help them . Whether it is having shipments arrive in time for the semester, price, or quality, their response gives you what you can now zero in on.
“How do you keep your competitors on their toes with the products you have in your catalogs?”; immediately opens type customer up to adding new products that their competition may not offer yet, without even having to ask if you can show them your product line. Isn’t that a more comfortable way then starting a meeting off with a company bio, followed with “here is our catalog”, i.e. the stone age way of trying to sell?
For the experienced salesman, relationship selling is the successful way to make a career out of sales. You will hear a lot on relationships from me in my writings, hardly ever using the term “accounts”. For those who have careers in sales and not jobs (if you don’t then get out now, for all of our sakes) there is one non verbal action that can be worth even more than the most well crafted question, and that is;
• BE OBSERVANT
Be aware! Look around your customer’s office. In a meeting with someone on their turf, turn into one of those robots with a probe scope that scans the room. Why? I’ll use three examples to explain:
1. One of my biggest relationships in a previous industry I worked in had an adopted daughter that played violin, and through observing her desk I zoomed in at a high school musical graduation card obviously for her girl, and I focused on it. I asked her about the card and she went on to explain her daughter’s obsession with the Disney cult. Two months later I got my hands on tickets to High School Musical on Ice and who do you think I gave it to? I can’t tell you how much it meant to her in words or the dollars spent on that season’s orders but I got a thank you card from her and her daughter. To top it off, I really was happy to do it too.
2. I met a recent prospective relationship that was referred to me in his office. I noticed fishing and golf pictures on his wall and then what was a huge ball made of rubber bands. It was bigger than a cantaloupe and was started 16 years ago and it was heavy! I noticed the most recent ones added were colored ones. Yesterday I was in a dollar store with the kids and spotted a bag of rubber bands and it had neon colored rubber bands. Guess what’s going into an envelope tomorrow morning from my office to him?
3. How about within your own company or sales team? Every time I take out a certain salesperson out for lunch she orders a Peach Snapple, you don’t think I have a visual post it note with peach Snapple on her forehead every time I see her? Just waiting for a frustrating day to come along for a nice iced surprise left for her in her box.
Getting the right information takes time, recording the information for use in the future takes effort, putting the information into practice at the right moment is priceless.
In a slight tweak of words of the best envelope salesman on the planet Harvey Mackay; “In sales, as in poker, a superior hand (or product) can be beaten by superior knowledge of the customer and opponent.”