If you have never heard of Henry Rowan before, don’t worry most of us haven’t. I hadn’t until I listened to an old podcast from the great author Malcolm Gladwell, on his podcast titled “Revisionist History” from July 2016. Gladwell’s podcast is one of my favorites to listen to.
The episode titled “My Little Hundred Million”, was the third episode, in a three-part series Gladwell did around education, and primarily the irony in education and how access to it is still very limited for some of the poorest children of America.
Mr. Rowan, who was a the founder and president of Inductotherm Industries. Was an engineer by trade. He was an inventor who created the metal-melting furnace. His company opened its doors in 1953. Mr. Rowan was a graduate of MIT with a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering, he was also a veteran of the Air Force.
In 1992, Mr. Rowan and his wife, gifted 100 million dollars to Glassboro State College in New Jersey. At that time it was the largest one time cash gift ever given to a public college or university.
How did the Rowan family decide to give that amount to the college. Was it because the school needed it? Was it because they decided they wanted to? Or was it because some great fundraiser asked him for it?
It would be a combination of all of the above. But here are the lessons we can learn as sales people.
The Rowans’ gift to Glassboro began with a fund-raising request by the college in 1990: $1,500 for two tickets to the Autumn Nocturne gala. They bought them.
Later on Mr. Rowan was solicited for help to fund the gap of four million dollars for a library they were building at the college for seventeen million dollars.
Mr. Rowan told the solicitor from the college that he wasn’t interested in funding their library.
Here is the first lesson for all of us. Never try to sell something until you know exactly what it is your prospect is interested in buying.
Mr. Rowan suggested at that time that he would be willing to gift Twenty Million dollars for the business school.
As you can already tell Mr. Rowan was a guy that was interested in value. He was interested in making a difference. A little back story here.
That is why Gladwell did this story to begin with. Mr. Rowan, at the time he was being asked to contribute to Glassboro State, he wasn’t also being solicited by his alma mater MIT for a donation as well. They were looking to fund a project of 850 million dollars.
Gladwell, in an interview with Mr. Rowan asked why he chose to give his money to Glassboro instead of his alma mater MIT. Mr. Rowan said “My little 100 Million wouldn’t have made a difference in the 850 million they were trying to raise.” But 100 million at Glassboro State College would make a huge difference.
So often sales people never spend enough time trying to learn what it is the buyer wants to do. If you understand what it is the buyer wants, you will always find a way to earn their business if you have what they need.
The second lesson you can learn here is “It is never the Cost of something, it is the value”.
I can’t find the specifics, but I assume the fundraiser was attempting to get Mr. Rowan to donate some part of the four million dollar gap for the library. Most sales people would have walked away from this situation after being told no and said that the buyer (Mr. Rowan in this case), didn’t have the money or didn’t want to spend the money.
Which is not true. He was willing to spend the money, he suggested twenty million, and then ultimately donated 100 million. It had nothing to do with the amount. It had everything to do with the value he saw in the money he was donating.
Again, Mr. Rowan wanted to make a difference, and in his mind covering the gap of the library or donating twenty million to a business school wouldn’t have made a big enough difference in his mind to bring the value he wanted to bring.
By donating 100 million dollars Mr. Rowan learned that he would impact the school forever. They could build an engineering school that would teach engineering to bright young kids that couldn’t get into the elite schools such as MIT or Harvard to name a few.
Glassboro State College was ultimately named Rowan University named after Henry Rowan.
If you are in sales remember these two lessons. Always get to know and learn what it is your prospect wants. Not what you want to sell or what you think they want.
And secondly, it is never the amount of money. It is the value that they are getting for the money.
Most often, it is not less money, it is more money. If you provide more in services and in products, and charge for them accordingly the prospect will be willing to pay more, because they can see how the services will solve their problems. Dont provide less, provide more, and charge more. More often than not, when we don’t think a solution will solve our problems, it isn’t the amount of money, it is the details of the solution. The better the solution, the more we are willing to pay for it if we think it will solve our problems.
To your success and your future.
Most people read the headline of this article and think they are going to get what you would typically see in an article titled “energize your sales now”. Things such as do more SEO, marketing, or run a promotion or discount, or…you name it. Nope ! We prefer to take a more systematic and methodical approach to driving sales.
1. Go to your last five customers who purchased from you and sit down with them and ask them “why” they chose to do business with you. My advice is to take them to lunch and tell them that you are not looking to sell anything else to them, (at least not right now), but you would just like to ask them some questions about the process of buying from you. Yes. Do this in person if you can. When you are knee to knee with someone your genuineness will come across that you really want to know the answers to your questions so you can serve others and add value to others the way you added value to them. When you ask your customers these questions, they will give you great insight that you can use to go and find other customers. The problems you solved from them will be communicated to you in their language and you can use that information to sell more effectively to your future customers. This exercise also re-energizes you about your product and the problems you can solve for your customers.
2. Who are your customers that were buying from you and are most likely still using products similar to the ones you offer, but for some reason are no longer doing business with you? Ask them for a meeting and see if you can buy them lunch and do the same thing I suggested for you to do in action step one above, except ask a different set of questions. Obviously, the question would be something like this: “I am trying to learn more about our customers and former customers and how I can better serve them.” “I was just curious if there was something I could have done to better serve you?” Please make sure you state that you are not looking to sell to them, but you are looking to learn from them. I know the skeptics out there are saying this wont work. If you show genuineness and sincerity to want to serve them (buy them lunch with no agenda, but to learn) you will be surprised. We as humans want to help others, and former customers are more likely to want to help you when you take the serving approach.
Now that you have some fresh information. You are more confident in your solution that you provide to your customers. Which means you are now re-energized and want to reach out to some prospects and let them know how you can solve their problems. Before you do that! Lets take a systematic approach to this before just running out and puking on the next prospect.
3. Go to your Rolodex, your LinkedIn account, your CRM, or whatever you use to manage your leads. Pick out your top five leads that for some reason you just haven’t converted into a sale. Maybe you met with them and maybe even sent a proposal or contract, but it hasn’t made its way back to you. Do you have that five? With the new information you have on how you solve your customers problems. If you look at these 5 non-moving sales leads. Be objective and ask yourself if you were effective in showing them how you can solve their specific problems? If the answer is Yes. I was effective! Then you have to ask yourself why did the deal stop? If the answer is NO! I wasn’t effective in showing the customer how we can solve their problems. Then before reaching back out to them you need to figure out what solution you are going to propose.
A lot of times we as sales people think that we need more leads, or we need more marketing and promotion to help us drive more sales. Its just not always true. Sometimes we have the best leads in front of us and we just have to approach them in a different way. To re-energize your sales sometimes we are the ones who need the re-energizing, and that inspiration comes from education. Hearing from your customers on how you solved their problems and hearing from former customers where you fell short lets you know where your competitive advantage is and you can then take that information, learn from it, and use it to sell more successfully.
When you are energized your sales will be energized.
As always we look forward to hearing from you.
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Most sales people don’t realize what mistakes they are making because they never take the time to study the art of sales. By gaining more knowledge in the art of selling, you become more aware of possible mistakes that could be holding you back from making more sales. Are you making the seven mistakes below?
And how are you different: Are you able to articulate in a quick succinct way what makes your product better than your competition? If the answer is no. Why not? Can you tell your prospects how you and your product can solve their problems in a sentence or two? If you can’t say it clearly and quickly, then your potential customers don’t know how you are different. If you haven’t taken the time to determine what makes your product different than your competitor’s product, then I encourage you to do it now.
BLAH. BLAH BLAH. “We have been in business for over 30 years”, “Our staff consists of 100 + years of experience in our industry. “ Sound familiar? Your customers don’t really care about you or your business that much. Sure they want to work with a credible company, but they will find that out later. In your initial meeting or over the phone, they want to know if you know what their problems are, and then secondly, do you have a possible solution to solve their problems. Get to these two answers quickly and the rest of the sale will be easier.
Attitude: Have you ever heard the saying that “attitude is everything?” “Attitude is contagious?” Well, what if these sayings are true? And I can say without a doubt they are. What kind of attitude are you displaying? Are you excited? Are you passionate about your product? Do you feel so passionate and trust that your products are the best that exist in the market? If you don’t feel that way, then you cant get your customers to feel that way either. Check your attitude.
Where are we? If you make a sale and you don’t know how you did it. Or you don’t make a sale and you don’t know why you didn’t. Then you aren’t following a plan. Professional sales people know where and why a sale is executed or why it isn’t. How you do it may vary from time to time. But not what you do. This is the difference between professional selling and wing-it selling. Professional sales people have a plan and follow it.
What do I need to do? (next steps not defined) “Great.” “Glad we had a chance to meet.” And you walk out the door. Sound familiar? Most sales are lost over the phone or in person due to the sales person not defining what the next steps are. Be the assertive person and tell them this what we are doing next and I will follow up with you on this. Whatever it is, be the one that knows where and what is being done next, your customers need the clarity.
Do you understand the words coming out of my mouth: (listening) Yep. This is what your customers are saying to you. They are talking, but your aren’t listening. You are too busy selling the blue one, because you didn’t hear that they like the red one. I challenge you with this. The next time you are meeting with a prospect. Try to not say anything about your product for fifteen minutes. Don’t even mention it. Just set there and get to know the person you are talking with and their business before you mention your products and its features.
What are you doing? What is the most precious commodity that we all possess? Answer: It is our time. What you are doing with your time can kill your chance for success in sales. There are certain things that you must do to execute a sales transaction. However, the most important thing for you to do as a salesperson is to sell more of whatever it is you are selling. You must make time to find, develop, and cultivate new sales.
If you are doing any of the above the chances are you have lost some sales. But the good thing is, you are now equipped with some new knowledge to change it.
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To your success and your future.
Sales Trainer and Performance Consultant
Many individuals are of the opinion that dealing with rejection is part and parcel of the sales game. I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t need to be that way for you. As a struggling coach, I had to deal with rejection in sales at least 5 to 10 times more than I celebrated a victory and one day I just got fed up of being rejected when making sales and decided that something had to change. Immediately I found that, that ‘something’ was the way I looked at the sale. Through hundreds of mistakes, I finally found a ‘rejection free’ technique to sell in three simple steps.
1st Step to Avoid Having to Deal with Rejection
Before you start the sales conversation always gauge the commitment level of the client. If the prospect is just looking for information, you have to understand at that moment that a sale may not be possible and hence accept the fact that this an exercise in building your sales funnel for the future (which is as important as making a sale today). Therefore, begin the process by requiring the customer to rate their level of commitment to find a solution for their issue today, on a scale of one to ten (one being no commitment and 10 being committed), if the customer is at a 9 or a ten, there is a definite possibility of making a sale, as long as the following two steps are completed.
2nd Step to Avoid Having to Deal with Rejection
The #1 reason you are often rejected in sales is that they try to ‘tell’ prospects what they must do to find a solution to their challenge. This is the ‘old fashion’ method of doing things. The ‘new school’ method is to request them to tell you what they think they must do to get the results that they want, or avoid the pain that they are experiencing. Customers always know what they should do to get the results – and it’s better when they tell what they think the solution should be, rather than you telling them. 99% of the time, the answer they propose will match your solution to a great extent, so all you have to do is, commend them for identifying the solution and agree with them wholeheartedly (when you introduce your solution later on – they will not be able to say NO to it, because they suggested it themselves).
3rd Step to Avoid Having to Deal with Rejection
Now that they have told you what they believe is the right solution, it is your turn to move on to the next question, and that is to ask them – what it would mean to them to have such a solution? How much income will such a solution bring to them over the next six to twelve months? How much resource, cost and time savings will they be able to gain with such a solution? Now that they have put a monetary value to it ask them what they are losing by not having such a solution right now (this will help increase their awareness of the loss to them if they don’t take immediate action).
Now that the prospect described the solution and the cost of not having it right now, you tell him that you can provide him the exact solution that he described (cover all the main points he covered, when he described his ideal solution to you), Next tell him the results he can expect in terms of revenue, cost savings, etc. If you carried out the above steps appropriately – I can assure you that by the time you get to this point, the customers will be ready to snatch your offer right off of your hands.
Implement the three steps introduced above in your sales presentation, immediately and avoid having to deal with rejection in sales ever again.
To your success and your future.
Humans are really easy to understand if you think about what makes us tick, gets us excited, scared, angry, etc. Yes we are emotional beings. And we only care about ourselves.
I know, someone out there is saying to themselves right now. I don’t only care about myself. I put others before myself. Blah, Blah, Blah. Maybe you do. But what if I told you your were fired. You wouldn’t be thinking about the money you spend each month on your charity of choice. Nope. The first thing you would think about is how you are going to pay your mortgage, car, or put food on the table.
This week, I was reminded again, how selfish most humans really are.
As a sales manager, I not only sell but I also manage a sales team. In my business, some sales reps stay for a while and there are some that stay for a season and move on. Thats okay. It happens, what we do is hard.
I get the resignation letter and we have a conversation. The employee tells me they are willing to work out the two weeks. I really needed that person to do that so we could get things in place to make a smooth transition. They weren’t going to a competitor, so I was good with it. We get three days into the two weeks they are to work, and the person goes awol. They don’t return my phone calls. They are not sending emails or returning my texts.
Look I am a pragmatist. I have been in business long enough that I understand that when people have made a decision to leave their position, in their minds they have already left the position. Most likely, they left the position weeks or months ago. But now it is just final, because they finally let their manager know. So the fact they weren’t returning my calls. I understand. No hard feelings. We will both move on. However, don’t expect to get a two-week paid vacation; in between jobs at my expense.
After the third day of no return calls, texts, or emails. I left a message for the sales rep. It sounded something like this.
“I was just calling to let you know that this will be your last day on the payroll. I appreciate your willingness to work out the two weeks, but it is evident that you have already moved on. And that is okay. But we will be ending your employment as of today.”
Again, I am not upset at this point. We both are moving on. That is life.
So after leaving voice mails for three days and not getting any response. I leave the above voicemail. And wouldn’t you know, I get a call back within one hour of leaving the message.
So we talk about what needs to happen and everything is ok. They were a good colleague and in the future we will most likely do business together.
But as I was talking with a colleague of mine about this situation, they reminded me of what a great illustration of how to leave a voicemail that the person receiving the message will actually care enough to return.
As my story illustrates very vividly. When we leave a voicemail with someone we must communicate what we offer and how it could directly impact their bottom line, as it did in this case, it creates the urgency for them to take action. I have no idea why they didn’t return my calls the three days prior, and it doesn’t matter. However, when you do finally strike a nerve that impacts them directly, emotionally, and in this case financially, it will cause action to occur and they will return your phone call.
So today as I making phone calls to prospects I will be reminding myself constantly about this interaction. If I want to get my phone call returned, I must leave a message that states how the person can either benefit by calling me back or lose something if they don’t call me back. We are all interested in anything that can help us.
To your success and your future.
I recently played a fun game called three truths and a lie with a group of colleagues at the office. It is a good way to get to know others that you work with and find out interesting things about each other. It is a great icebreaker in meetings and just an overall fun game to play to get to know people at a different level than you might know them currently.
How does it work:
- Each person in the group gets a turn
- When its your turn, you tell the group three things about yourself that are true and one thing that is a lie.
- You can tell the truths and lies in any order you want, some people play two truths and a lie, but I prefer three truths, because then we get to know someone a little bit better.
- After you tell your three truths and the lie, the group then guesses which of the four statements was a lie.
- You can facilitate this a variety of different ways. The purpose of this exercise is to get to know the person at a different level than you currently know them and maybe find out something interesting that you would have never guessed about the person.
This game sparks a lot of different conversations, because people then become interested in learning more about whatever it is that the person revealed about themselves and many times people find that they have common interests or hobbies.
I am going to start writing a blog called tree truths and a lie. Since it is my blog it is my opinion, you may disagree with my opinion, but I don’t care. My hope is that you will respond to this post in the comments section and tell me which of the four statements you think is a lie.
I will be posting this blog once a week on a variety of different topics. I look forward and appreciate your feedback.
There are many truths and lies about selling intangibles but here are mine:
- The most important thing to know about an intangible product is that the customer usually doesn’t know what they are getting until they don’t get it.
- It is important to remind the buyer regularly of what they are getting from your service.
- Unique to tangible products is that the customer is seldom aware when they are being served well.
- An intangible product is harder to sale and differentiate in the market.
Which of the four statements is a lie? I look forward to reading your responses.
To your success and your future.
If you are a republican you might really like this post. If you are a democrat the chances are you aren’t going to like this post or what is in it. I want to challenge you regardless of which way you lean politically to read the post and learn something from it. I am not writing this from a political perspective. I am writing this from a how can I learn from what Donald Trump did and apply it to what I do perspective.
We all now know that Donald Trump won the presidential race. He won it pretty easily. Causing massive disruption in the political arena. He did it with out the support of most of the news media, he did it without the support of the establishment republicans, he did it really without the support of most of the career political people making up the news media, pundits, long time politicians, print news, etc.
So how did he do it with all of these people against him? He did it his way. He did it in a way that was unconventional and caused massive disruption to the political establishment.
Here are the six things Donald Trump applied to winning the 2016 presidential campaign that you can apply to your sales approach to win every day:
Social Media: Donald got criticized all of the time about being angry and unfit to be president because of his rants on twitter. I am not talking about his messages in his posts. I don’t even remember what half of them were. Here is what I remember: The news media talking about his posts. They talked about it all of the time. That is all they talked about. By applying some of the following things that I outline below through his social media platform, he was able to get attention all of the time to the people who wanted to hear his message.
Lesson: Embrace Social media to get your message out to your audience. It is a great platform to target and pinpoint the people you want to reach.
Lead with an Opinion: Not everyone is going to like to what you have to say. However, nobody likes a person that says nothing. Also, nobody likes it when you are a fence rider, meaning you wont take a stand either way. You have to make a stand and have a strong opinion for people to notice you.
Lesson: Whatever it is you believe, state it, stand behind it, and when you get push back don’t back down. Your opinion is yours lead with it.
Make big claims: This is the one that drives people crazy more than anything. When Donald would make big bold statements about what he was going to do. Half the people said he could never make that happen. And the other half of the people were excited that he said it. That is just the reality of the world we live in today.
If I told you today, that you could spend eight hours with me working and you would earn $500 dollars. Depending on your current financial situation you may or may not take me up on the offer. However, if I said you could make $10,000 dollars for the same amount of time, the chances are you would listen. And that is all Donald Trump was doing when he was making big claims, getting people to listen.
Lesson: If you want to get the attention of people today, you have to give them a BIG reason to listen.
Get Attention: The world is as noisy as it ever has been. With the news media 24/7, Sports of some kind on 24/7, twitter, Facebook, advertising, current events, the holidays, etc., you name it, you have to do be bold and do something to get attention. Attention is what we all need for our prospects to get to know us.
Lesson: Your biggest challenge in sales is nobody knows you or your product. If you want to become known, get massive attention by applying some of the ways I outline here.
Talk to your prospects: We all know that America is divided pretty evenly when it comes to politics. I am sure it probably has always been that way. Especially in today’s world, where there is more transparency than ever before. Between twitter, videos, print news, and anything else you can think of, there is always a record of what you have said. The key today is to define your prospect with clear pinpoint accuracy and then create messages to speak to them. Again, love him or hate him. Donald knew what message his prospects wanted to hear. He was able to create specific messaging to them. Which fired them up and got them out to vote. You have to fire your prospects up about your product and then get them to spend money on it.
Lesson: Figure out who you want to reach, and then create a message stating what they want to hear.
Embrace your haters: As I said earlier. We live in a country where it is pretty evenly split politically. So the bottom line is if you are going to win, you have to get fifty percent of the people fired up and hope that the other side doesn’t fire theirs up as much. When you embrace your haters and take them head on as Donald did, it again creates more attention which is what we all want.
Lesson: Your haters can fuel your desire. Your haters provide you content to feed the people who love you. Use your haters to define your message to the other half of the people who want to hear your message.
The main thing is that we all our seeking attention in this 24/7 world. In sales, it is the easiest it ever has been to get your message out. In most cases it is free to do so. However, because it is so easy and everyone is doing it, it is harder than ever to get people to hear your message. To go from obscurity to at least being known to people you have to do things unconventionally and be ready to handle the response.
To your success and your future.
According the Bureau of Labor statistics in 2012, 1 out of every 9 people were in a job classification that was considered sales. So what about the other eight jobs? Well, according to a study conducted by Daniel Pink (author) in his book To Sell is Human, the other 8 people are in sales as well, just not the traditional sense of the word.
In his best-selling book, Daniel conducted a study titled “What do you do at work.” They gathered 9,057 respondents around the world. Of the 9,057 respondents they paired down the results to a sample size of over 7,000 adult full-time workers in the United States.
The research had two major findings:
- People are spending about 40 percent of their time at work engaged in non-sales selling. Meaning they were spending that time persuading, influencing, and convincing others do get something done, not purchasing a product. That means 24 minutes out of every hour, they are trying to get someone else to do something.
- People considered this time critical to their success.
The findings come from people in various types of roles. The research also showed some other interesting findings.
- 37% of the respondents said they devoted a significant time to teaching, coaching, or instructing others.
- 39% said they devoted significant time to serving clients or customers.
- 70% reported that they spent at least some of their time “persuading or convincing others.”
Later in the survey to probe the respondents further. The survey asked respondents to rank 0-100 on a slider scale. “What percentage of your work involves convincing or persuading people to give up something they value for something you have?” The average reply among respondents was 41 percent.
It is now fairly obvious that we are all in the business of sales, or as I like to call it influence. We all have to influence other people or convince other people to listen to us. Without the ability to do that it is very difficult to get anything accomplished.
The more important thing I want to point out here, is that if 1 out of 9 jobs in a company are traditional sales roles. Meaning you are paid to go out and generate business by acquiring customers. It means the other 8 out of 9 remaining jobs spend at least 40% of their time connecting with customers. Then why is sales training, or any kind of training for that matter, only conducted with the sales team?
Since you are reading this, the chances are you are not in a traditional sales role based on the data. However, my hope is that I at least got you thinking about the fact you do spend a lot of your day trying to persuade and convince others in some form. So the question is how do you do it?
Here are three simple ways to influence, persuade, and maybe even convince others to your way of thinking.
- Ask questions: This is the number one way. People like to solve problems on their own. Especially since you are most likely in a peer-to-peer situation and you can’t just tell them exactly how you feel about something and this is the way we are going to do it. Nope instead you have to get buy-in from the other person.When you become more skilled at asking the right questions, at the right time, to a person that you are trying to influence, you can win them to your way of thinking. They start to convince themselves through their own words by answering your questions, that what you are suggesting is the better way. If, your way is truly the better way.
- Listen: Seems pretty easy doesn’t it? Come on, we all think we are better listeners than we actually are. But the facts states the opposite. That we truly aren’t very good at listening. Nope. We listen long enough so we can respond. Well, if you are trying to convince or influence someone else to get them to move, then we have to become better at listening to their perspective and then tailoring our response around that to ask a good follow-up question to nudge them in the direction we want them to go.
- The best way to win an argument is to avoid it.–Dale Carnegie. Yep Mr. Carnegie couldn’t have said it any better than that. You might be thinking, “Does that mean, I don’t stand up for what I think is right.” Read the quote again. No. That is not what Mr. Carnegie meant, nor do I. Instead of arguing about whatever it is you are trying to get someone else to do. You instead use basic human relations to get them thinking differently.
Obviously, this blog isn’t long enough to equip you with the skills necessary for you to always get others to do what you want them to do. The skills required to move others require constant attention and constant reinforcement and development.
Do you have the skills? As a leader or manager, do your people who are working with your customers have the skills necessary and required to move customers into loyal customers? We know your cost of acquisition is high for a customer in most cases. Then you turn those high value clients over to people you have invested very little, if any time or money into, to persuade and convince those clients to stay loyal to your company and your product.
My unsolicited advice. If it is not obvious. As you move into 2017, you must increase the amount of money you spend on the people who have to either work with your customers (which is everyone) and everyone who has to work with their peers and colleagues (which is everyone). So this is the 9 out 9 employees within your company.
How much money are you willing to lose because of lost clients, lost production because people can’t get others to move, or lost employees because managers aren’t equipped with the skills to get others to move?
To your success and your future.
References: To Sell is Human;The surprising truth about moving others. Author: Daniel Pink. Published by Penguin Group (2012)
Everybody wants a guarantee that it will work. You do, I do, and so does everyone else.
Is this even realistic though? Absolutely not.
We all have to take a chance and jump in on whatever it is. You have to buy the new car. Upgrade the cell phone. Upgrade the software. Purchase the product. But the fear of it not being the right thing, or solving our problem, is always in our mind.
As a salesperson, your number one job is to sell certainty. Lets be honest though. We all know that there are no guarantees. We all know that if the buyer doesn’t use the product or use it correctly. They won’t get the benefit from the product. We all know that people will buy something, use it once or twice, and then tell everyone that it didn’t work.
So how do we sell certainty? Especially, when we know that the product is certain to work when used correctly, but we know that the consumer will not do it the way they should?
You have to set the expectations on the front end. You have to let the buyer know that for them to get the best benefit, they will have to use it the exact way you are telling them. You also have to let them know that you will hold them accountable to using the product the way you have suggested.
I can remember working for a company where we upgraded our CRM (Customer Relationship Manager system). This is a software application that helps sales teams manager their sales prospects and customers.
We purchased the product and then immediately tried to make that new product work exactly like our old one. We were constantly asking the software implementation team to change this or that to make a change to the new software to perform, and look like our old system. This went on for two years until we finally pulled the plug on our end, to stop trying to make the software work.
Who was at fault? Well, I can say we (the company) were partly at fault because we were constantly trying to make it look, act like, and perform like our old system. However, that is what people do. We hate change and when given the opportunity we will keep things like they are.
The fault lies with the software team that sold us the new CRM. They set the wrong expectations on the front end. First, they told us that all of these great things were available. And they may have been, but not early on. So they oversold. Secondly, they kept making the changes we asked for. Which slowly kept us doing the same things we had always done, and the only thing that was different was the system we were using.
Instead of selling us certainty that this new CRM software application was the right system. They actually did the opposite. By making all the changes we asked for. It further made the point that the new software was no different from our old one. And the more changes we made, the more uncertainty we had about the new system.
As a salesperson you have to sell certainty on the front end. You have to let the prospect know that you will be with them every step of the way to ensure they get maximum benefit from the purchase. You also have to be willing to hold them accountable after the purchase to following the prescribed way of using that product.
When you allow them to make changes and fall into a doing what they have always done, or not using the product at all. You as the salesperson, have to hold them accountable and follow-up with them to ensure they get maximum benefit from the product.
This is how you sell certainty in an uncertain world. This is how you overcome the doubt “Will it work”. You let the prospect know that you will make sure it works for them. This will eliminate the doubt.
To your success and your future.
In sales, and in my sales training workshops, I have always reminded people of this one simple fact of sales: When a buyer seeks to buy something, they will make the purchase when the value of whatever the solution (thing, object, service, etc.) that they are buying, exceeds the cost. Simply stated: When the perceived value of a product exceeds the cost, a buyer will make the purchase.
The challenge that sales people face is that they must help the buyer see that the value exceeds the cost. Which means, that the buyer must be certain, and maybe not even fully certain, that the price of the product is justified in the pleasure or results they will get from the purchase.
Recently, I was in the market to buy a couch. This couch purchase has been something that has been in the works for about a year now. Which means, I told my wife that we would buy one, and she kept reminding me that I said that, but I kept putting it off.
Last weekend, we took the next steps to purchase the couch. So, I actually found myself in the stores looking at couches and determining what we wanted. My wife and I very rarely agree on things of this nature, but in this case, after three or four stores, we both laid our eyes on a couch that we both liked.
We went back and forth about it, and then we ultimately got the sales person over to discuss our options. The couch we were looking to buy is not a regular couch. We wanted a sectional. A sectional comes in various shapes and we both liked one with a chaise at one end of it. A chaise is a chair that is like a mini little lounge on one end of the couch. I have never had one of these, and I was excited about getting this feature.
To get the couch the way we wanted cost $3,100 dollars out the door. Personally, I have never paid more than four or five hundred dollars for a couch. My wife had spent more than that in her past, but never as much as this couch cost.
For this purchase, we had already determined that we would spend $1,000 on a couch, but after looking at a few places and now understanding the market a little bit better, I learned that this dollar figure was way off. To get a bigger sectional couch, with the features we liked and desired it would cost us at least double that. And I knew this, but I always start low and once I find something I like, price goes out the door usually. As this couch purchase illustrates.
But now we found ourselves looking at a $3,100 dollar couch. So after an hour or so, my wife and I decided that we were done couch shopping for the day, and that we really liked the $3,100 dollar couch, but we would look at a few more places before we made our purchase.
Fast forward to the next day. My wife and I went into two more places and looked at other couches. By now, we have been to about six to seven stores. We decided to go back and look at the couch that we both liked the day before. The $3,100 dollar couch.
We spent another forty-five minutes or so looking at the couch. My wife starts putting some pillows on the couch and was really trying to get a feel for the couch. The sales person from the day before joined us once again. And she wasn’t necessarily pressuring us, but was adding in some commentary to my wife and I’s conversation as necessary, hoping to push our decision forward.
Once again, we decided not to buy the couch and that we would look a few more places. My wife really wanted to sleep on this buying decision again.
The next day we decided to go to the same store, but a different location. Lets be honest, I wasn’t expecting to see anything different in this store versus the other one that we have been going to the last two days, but I thought, why not give it a try. And guess what? The couch that we had been looking at the previous two days, the $3,100 dollar coach was in there as well. And we looked at it again.
We also walked around the show room and looked at other couches. We found a few new ones that we liked as well. Now, I am not sure if we had looked at these exact same new couches at the other location. The chances are we had, but one couch jumped out at us that we really liked, and by this time my wife wasn’t that interested in the $3,100 dollar couch anymore.
This new couch that we both liked was $2,000 or so dollars. And this Saturday that couch will be delivered to our home. We made the purchase in less than forty-five minutes or so.
I am in sales and have trained sales people for a very long time. Through any buying process I am constantly watching and listening to the sales person to see the techniques and processes they use to help me make a purchase. I am also considering and thinking about the decision-making that I, or my wife, are using during this buying process.
So why was it that we couldn’t make the decision to purchase the $3,100 dollar couch for two days, but on the third day we bought the $2,000 dollar couch so quickly?
To me this was a classic example of something all sales people deal with. As I mentioned before, my wife and I both had never purchased a couch for the amount of money that we were considering spending. So this would have been a purchase that was against both of our buying patterns. Since this was the case, there was a lot of uncertainty on whether the couch was worth it or not. Also, as I mentioned we looked at this couch three different times, so there was a lot of uncertainty on whether this couch would look the way my wife wanted it to.
Both times we looked at the couch at the first store, my wife couldn’t get an idea on what it would look like in our house. No matter how many pillows she put on the couch or pictures she took, it was just really difficult to see how it would look at our place.
When we moved on to the other couch, and the one we ultimately purchased. My wife was able to get a feel for what this couch would look like in our place. She was able to more clearly see how it would fit in the decor that she was looking to have in our home.
The lesson here for sales people is this. In any sales situation, or a lot of sales situations, especially when someone is buying a product for the first time, or spending more on a product than they have before, your number one challenge will always be to figure how to eliminate the buyers uncertainty.
If it is a first time purchase for a buyer of this product. They are usually uncertain if it will work for them. Since they don’t know how it works, they are uncertain if it will work, and will they use it and get the benefits out of it. It doesn’t matter if it is a couch or a new software system for a business.
When it is spending more money than they usually pay for similar products, then it is the uncertainty of whether or not the additional money they are spending on this product is worth it.
In my case of the $3,100 dollar couch versus the $2,000 dollar couch. If the sales person could have provided us a guarantee that if the couch didn’t look the way we wanted it to. Lets be honest here. The way my wife wanted it to look. Then we could return the couch. We would have even been willing to pay a fee of some kind if we returned the couch, because the fear of uncertainty would have been eliminated. Unfortunately, no such option was available. Once the couch was purchased and delivered it was yours.
The fear of uncertainty is real in all buying situations. A sales person must create ways to over come and eliminate that fear of uncertainty. In our case, a simple guarantee that we could return it, could have increased their sales by $1,100 dollars.
Why do you think car lots allow you to take the car home overnight and think about it? How many more cars do you think they sell because of this one little easy thing to do? A lot. Because those buyers get a feel for what that car feels and looks like when they are driving it. They get to see it in their driveway. And since it is a new car, or new to them, it feels and looks good and those emotions are usually confirmed by others in their life during those 24 hours that they have the car.
Eliminate the uncertainty and you will make more sales. Use return guarantees, let them try the product out, or whatever else you can do to eliminate that fear of uncertainty and you will make more sales.
To your success and your future.