From the book
Good-Bye Product Selling --
Let the Dialogue Begin
How open are you to looking at your selling process up close -- and
every salesperson has a process he or she uses over and over consciously
or unconsciously? If so, then you should read this book. As you read
it, you can assess your sales approach, spot your strengths and
weaknesses, and make the necessary corrections. You can tap into your
natural skills and knowledge and sell more by creating a need-based
dialogue with your customers.
This is a how-to book for selling at the turn of the millennium, an era
in which customers are more demanding, products look more and more
alike, and the level of "customer focus" is a chief differentiator among
competing firms. You are probably thinking, "But I already focus on my
customer's needs." And you probably do. But the level of customer focus
and the skills and processes it takes to sell to today's customer are
different -- not completely different, of course, but enough to make the
difference between winning a piece of business and coming in second.
The consultative approach works. Most salespeople, if asked, would say
they are already consultative, "customer-need-driven,"
"customer-focused." And most salespeople truly intend to be
consultative. But our experience in over two decades of working with
thousands and thousands of salespeople and their managers in the finest
organizations in the world, from Fortune 100 companies around the globe
to small businesses, shows that few salespeople have mastered
consultative selling. Have you? How can you tell? Traditional sales
approaches, approaches that worked before, are failing miserably in
today's market where a commodity mindset rules.
If you were to ask 100 salespeople whether they were
customer-focused or product-focused in their sales
approach, what do you think they would say? Probably 99.9 percent would
say they were customer-focused. Few, if any, would boast about selling
"a box." Most would tell you they find out or "know" their customers'
needs. But it is this very self-perception that is the biggest obstacle
in making the transition from product selling to real need-based
dialogue selling. The most difficult part of teaching consultative
selling is that people think they are already doing it!
Many salespeople don't see the need to change because they see
themselves as need-based salespeople already. Often they are so very,
very close to being consultative -- often just a few skills away. But
being very, very close can still mean coming in number two.
While many top performers already sell using the real dialogue
approach, in which they deeply understand and address customer needs,
too many salespeople are still stuck (and usually trained) in the old
molds. They respond to their customer's view by offering their own point
of view, using sales talk like, "If I did X... would you
then...?" or "Don't you want to save money and increase productivity?"
"Yes, but..." or "__________" (you fill in the blank). The old formulas
of selling are still around, holding good salespeople back. Preparing
for his new job as head of training, one of my clients -- a top
performer in a large brokerage firm -- read every phone-sales training
book he could get his hands on. "I'm going into the sales book writing
business," he remarked.