Communication is a subject that many experts have broadcast their views on for many years. Theories of the best ways to communicate face to face, how to read body language, how to hear key words in a conversation that indicate a potential buyers intentions whether serious or just casual. Methods of stimulating your chosen market with clever techniques abound.
We have other experts telling us we need to be broadcasting on social media to get our message across. To integrate our products into the minds of our audience at an almost subversive level to get attention.
And we have yet more experts that recommend we need to control our broadcasts to tune out all but the essential message of our businesses. Networking, integrating, understanding stakeholder interest. All complications and buzz words and subjects that come in and out of fashion. Who remembers the primacy of “Facilitators” in business some 5 years ago? A buzz word I grew to loath, hearing it mouthed in so many conferences and business speeches.
I was taught to sell, (a dirty word these days) over 30 years ago by another expert, a successful B2B salesman who seemed to have got to the core of good business relations and understood the important facts to get a sale.
We were in packaging, cardboard boxes to be precious, not an exciting subject but one which required the very essence of good selling techniques to achieve success in.
The first rule as far as he was concerned was know your product. A simple bit of logic there, you were there as the expert to that potential client, you needed the ammunition to be able to fire off the answer to any question the client might need to know. He knew the materials we manufactured to the point of being able to feel the difference of thickness between a 125 micron paper and a 150 micron paper.
He knew his machinery sizes and limitations and he knew his box designs to be able to recommend the best solution for a clients needs.
But with all this knowledge what he actually knew best of all was how to sell. And selling is the simplest thing in the world if you keep to the basics. He knew how to listen!
All the experts in the world recommend the best way to broadcast but how many teach how to listen? It’s the simplest logic in the world. How can you match your skills or services to a clients needs if you don’t listen to what they want in the first place.
Ah, you say, I need to make a sales presentation because I’m offering a product that the client doesn’t know they need yet because there is nothing like it in the world. I have to tell my potential clients what the benefits are to them to make them interested.
So, the potential sales person launches into their sale presentation, listing the benefits firing off points like an anti aircraft gun spraying bullets into the sky hoping to hit something in the dark. Broadcasting on loud with no receive. Anyone who knows their history will know the success rate of the scatter approach is very low compared with the targeted homing missile.
And that’s what good listening is all about, getting the information on where that client is, what are their trigger points that will make them sit up and take notice. What are the elements of your product that match with their desires.
Good listening is about asking the right questions to get the client to tell you what is important to them and those facts may well be totally different to the points you think will interest them.
I sell photography and video services, portraiture, events and videography. I know what I think makes a good picture from years of experience. I know what appeals to me in an image. But I also know from experience that what my client may want and what might appeal to him or her is not necessarily the same. I still always start with listening to what they think is important in the coverage of their event or what they think they might want from the pictures or which is the important part of the widget they want videoed.
Selling isn’t complicated. The slickest presentation is of no interest to the client who has no use of your products. The best buzz words of the industry don’t make your product what the client might need. Keep it simple and listen!
So the next “expert” who tells you what you need to be doing is probably telling you what he wants you to be doing, prossibly because he has a financial gain as his incentive. He probably isn’t a good salesman. But the person who comes in, listens to your needs and says “We can do that”. May well be the perfect salesman.
Life and business doesn’t have to be complicated, keep it simple.
Copyright June 2014.