“Remember, most salespeople listen with an intent to reply. We need to listen with an intent to understand.” – Jerry Pilkey in today’s Tip 691
How about you? Do you just show up and throw up?
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Scott Ingram: You’re listening to the Daily Sales Tips podcast and I’m your host, Scott Ingram. Today’s tip comes from Jerry Pilkey. Jerry is President of Selling Solutions where he provides customized sales training, onsite and online by incorporating a simple philosophy into every session; “don’t ever quote price until you have established value”. As a Professor, Author, and Sales Educator, he has produced 15 sales and customer service training courses. Here he is:
Jerry Pilkey: I was recruited by a national transportation company, a number of years ago to do some on the road training with several of their salespeople. The president of the company felt that there were a number of issues with their team that was preventing them from closing deals. The quotes were plentiful. However, the close-ratio was well below the industry standard. William was a territory manager in new Brunswick and was a sales representative with extensive industry knowledge and experience, but he was not winning many deals.
I was asked to spend some time with William to determine exactly what was preventing him from closing deals, especially considering how knowledgeable he was. I spent some time in advance with William and as I always do, I asked him my typical pre-trip questions in an effort to understand his challenges and obstacles. No surprise. According to William pricing was the issue. And in his opinion, that company was not competitive in that market. It is a fact that this company was not the lowest price in that geographic region and asked a premium for their products and services. However, their industry reputation was exceptional and justified the slightly higher costs. When I spoke with William, he stated that it was his job to talk to customers.
I clarified “William, it’s your job to talk to customers?” He said, “Yes, it’s my job to talk to customers.” I asked him a few more clarifying questions, including how many calls he had scheduled for our day. And from my discussion, I had a pretty good idea of what I and his customer was in for. We agreed to travel data would take us on an expensive and less than effective road trip. We headed out fairly early for what amounted to a single sales call for the entire day. Admittedly, the travel on the East Coast is expensive, but I have to think that he should have been able to find several more opportunities to add to our single call in all of that geography. After traveling for almost 500 kilometers, we arrived at our destination just as I suspected. William began to spew and recited a feature dump of all the warm and wonderful things that he could do for them. It was a 15 minute unprepared, one-way recital that caught the prospect totally off guard and produced nothing except alienation.
Had William taken more of a sales discovery approach and asked a few questions. He would’ve quickly realized that most of his features were not relevant to their needs. We traveled more than a thousand kilometers that day, simply to listen to William show up and throw up, suffice it to say that the call went nowhere. To add to the naivety, when we returned to the car, I asked her, how do you think that went his response really well. I knew quickly why William was not closing many deals as we departed. I asked William one more time. “It’s your job to talk to customers?” I think he knew what I meant when I said “No, William, it’s your job to listen to customers.” I explained to him that all good salespeople, listen with an intent to understand those that don’t close many deals, listen with an intent to reply.
How can you possibly provide a solution to your prospect or customer when you don’t know explicitly what they need? How can you possibly determine their explicit needs without asking good probing and discussion provoking questions that truly unlock the sale? How can you possibly gain the respect, confidence, and trust of your prospect or customer without advanced preparation for the meeting? How can you possibly know what they need if you don’t let them talk? And finally, how can you possibly know what they need If you don’t listen?
A good sales discovery that produces results follows a well-thought-out and advanced prepared process. Prepare a list of good questions that will disclose the real need and ask them in a logical and systematic fashion. And remember, most salespeople listen with an intent to reply. We need to listen with an intent to understand.
Once you’ve done that. Be sure to come back tomorrow for another great sales tip. Thanks for listening!