The forth segment of this series highlighted the importance of keeping our sales presentations and proposals simple, straightforward and focused on the benefits we provide to our customers. It also stressed the importance of guiding the customer’s decision process effectively through solid planning and organization.
In this final installment of the series you’ll see how connecting with your customers by demonstrating your understanding of their challenges and goals, is the cornerstone of building enduring loyalty. We’ll end with showing you the joy and success that comes with a continuous commitment to learning and self-development.
These are points 9 and 10 from the Make Up Your Mind essay…
9. That people buy today, not nearly so much because they understand your product thoroughly, but because they feel and believe that you understand them, their problems and the things they want to accomplish.
Here’s the cold, hard truth; what customers have to say to us is more important than what we have to say to them. One of my cherished mentors put it this way, “God gave us two ears and one mouth so use them accordingly.”
Early in my sales career I needed to hear that wisdom. I needed to hear it a lot. I consider myself a relatively bright fellow, so I reasoned that I needed to prove it to my customers. I couldn’t understand why I was losing business! I learned the hard way that only my customers had the information I needed to know.
That information alone would help me recommend the right solutions to overcome their business challenges and improve their business productivity. They had what I needed and without it I couldn’t provide to them what they needed.
How you get this critical information is simple. Ask. Effective questioning techniques are the most important skill any sales professional can develop. I’ll say it again: Learning how to ask probing questions that uncover customer needs is the most important skill you can develop as a sales professional.
Only questions will allow you to uncover what you don’t know. Only questions will help you dig deeper into a customer’s business and learn about what makes it tick (or not tick). Only questions will help you learn what your customer is really thinking.
How do you feel about the importance of asking questions? What types of questions have you found effective in identifying customer needs? Who do you question within a customer’s organization to obtain key information?
See what I just did there? With three questions I would have learned a great deal about you and your approach to effective questioning techniques. I would have learned how you feel about the concept I’m trying to sell to you in this article. I would have gotten a better sense of the types of questions you use when interviewing your customers, and I would have better understood where you go to get the information you need from your customers.
You just told me enough about you so that I can better help you become better the questions you ask, why you ask them and who you ask to get the info you need.
One last thing on the importance of asking questions and this is critical. You have to listen for the answers.
10. That almost all development is, in fact, self-development and that personal growth is the product of practice, observation and self-correction.
Learning is a journey, not a destination. Since change is constant, learning needs to be as well. Mistakes are essential to effective learning. If we don’t make mistakes, we can’t learn how to avoid them in the future. I’ve learned from my success too, but failure has taught me a lot more.
What is the solution for learning better questioning techniques? Ask more questions. Learn what works and what doesn’t. Learn what types of questions work best with different customer personality types. Learn and then apply what you’ve learned. I love this line from the Clint Eastwood movie Heartbreak Ridge: “Improvise, Adapt and Overcome.”
Don’t be afraid to try new things. Study different selling methods and approaches. Strive not only to replicate, but to innovate. If you’re not learning, you’re losing.
I hope you’ve found this series informative and helpful. Make up your mind to help, not sell to, your customers. Make up your mind to listen more than you speak. Make up your mind to never stop learning. Make up your mind. It’s the key to being an invaluable asset to your customers, your organization and yourself.
Until next time…