September 12, 2011 | last updated June 1, 2012 10:44 am
TALKING POINTS

Hearing client's concern is vital part of sales call

Greta Schulz

Jim arrived at the office of Bob Simmons, president of the ABC Tool and Dye Co., early so he could sit in the parking lot and review in his head what he wanted to say.

Jim practiced each step of his presentation and knew exactly what he wanted to say and how he wanted to say it.

He knew that his power point slides were perfectly in order and were just what he needed to land this account. He knew what this company needed because he has called on other companies like this and helped them just like he could help this one. Jim took a deep breath and walked into the building, "I've got this one down" he thought and proceeded in the door.

Once the pleasantries were over, Jim got right down to business. "Mr. Simmons, I have been with my company for the past three years and our company has been in business for over 50 years. We are the leader in our industry and have worked with lots of companies like yours and have been able to meet the needs that you have."

"Well, that's why I agreed to meet with you, Jim. We do have a need for a product like yours and this might be a good fit," stated Bob Simmons.

"I'm glad you did," Jim said proudly. "Our product line has the best reputation for least failures on the job therefore downtime is at the lowest in the industry which will keep you up and running more efficiently."

"Great Jim, but our service department isn't sure if they can retrofit your model into our existing equipment."

"Oh, I wouldn't worry about that; we do it all of the time and with companies who have bigger problems then yours. As a matter of fact, I brought a power-point presentation that I believe will help you understand why we're number one in the industry."

After the presentation, Mr. Simmons said, "Thanks for the presentation Jim but I am still a little concerned about our existing equipment and the retrofit we'll need to do. We can't afford any downtime with the change or production could be compromised."

"Mr. Simmons, I understand that is a concern but we do this all of the time and don't worry we can handle it."

Fifteen minutes later Jim said goodbye to Mr. Simmons and promised him a proposal in a few days. After he left, Mr. Simmons buzzed his assistant and said when that proposal comes in just round file it.

What happened? Jim ignored the real issue that Mr. Simmons wanted addressed and kept telling him what he felt was important.

Guess what? No one cares what you think is important, only as it applies to them.

Jim missed lots of opportunity to really deeply understand what his prospect's issues were and assure him that not only he could solve the problem but help Mr. Simmons understand how.

The result? Jim may very well have the best product for Mr. Simmons but the prospect didn't see it that way. When a prospect gives you a hint of a need, address that need by asking really good, pointed questions, for example:

Tell me more about the retrofit concern?

Have you had that issue in the past in looking to change products?

What happened?

What did you do it address it at that time?

How did it effect production and at what cost?

These types of questions would not only have given Jim a real insight to the issue it would have also given Mr. Simmons confidence that Jim knew and could address his issue.

Quick wrap up;

Stop telling about how great you and your company are (no one cares).

Ask what some of their concerns are and then dig deeper to truly understand the issue.

Don't be so quick with a solution, even if it is correct, you haven't earned the right so early in the process to give one.

Listening is you best sales tool, not your product knowledge.

Greta Schulz is the president of Proactive Training and Consulting in West Palm Beach, Fla. She is the author of "To Sell is Not to Sell" and a national columnist. Reach her through the company's website at www.proactivetraining.biz

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