For over 35 years I’ve worked with some of the very best sales people around. Without exception, there’s one thing that they all do. Oftentimes, it seems like they know more about their customers’ business than their customers do. They learn from all their customers, and that experience and knowledge gives them a head start when talking with a new or different customer. They’re able to take their experience with one customer and then build on that experience with the next.
One saleswoman who I worked with in Indiana comes immediately to mind. When prospects would ask her to tell them about our service, she wouldn’t. Instead, she would reply that she was very proud of our service and would be happy to explain it in greater detail – but first, she’d request permission to ask a few more questions on just what her prospects were looking to accomplish by using our service. Were they looking to cut costs? Were they hoping to get better service? Did they have needs that weren’t being filled by their current provider? Was their current service provider difficult to use, or difficult to contact or communicate with? For every response from her prospects, Julie would have an example of how others have looked to her to solve similar problems. And then, she would ask more specific questions.
Julie would supply just enough information on each exchange to earn the right to ask the next question. Eventually, she would recommend a course of action that was specifically tailored to what the customer was hoping to accomplish. She didn’t close every sales call, but she did give every prospective customer a forum to explain exactly what they were looking for, and she got almost all of them to give her enough information to determine if our service was a good fit, not just for the customer, but for our company as well. I heard a great quote that best describes Julie’s method, it was about a doctor – the quote is “Don’t prescribe medicine until you’re sure what all the symptoms are.” Take a page out of Julie’s book. Be sure to diagnose all your customer’s symptoms before offering your prescription.