Selling Versus Telling
There seems to be an age-old debate regarding the differences between selling and telling.
When I make sales calls with my clients’ salespeople, I’ve noted an increase in the number of sales calls which are inappropriately identified as “selling”.
More often than not, these people are telling.
They tell the customer about their products or services. They tell their customer about the company that employs them. They tell their customer about the features of their products and services.
In other words, they’re quite able to disgorge all of the “speeds and feeds” associated with their product. Salespeople that adhere to this approach to selling are really telling their customers about their product or service; they’re not selling.
Salespeople who sell solve business problems for their customers.
They understand that the application of their product or service will produce a measurable and permanent improvement in one of more of the operating conditions within their prospect’s business.
If you’re not solving a business problem, all you are doing is showing your customer a product or service and hoping that they will “see the light” and make the appropriate decision.
Tragically, most sales orientations (I’m hesitant to call them training sessions) highlight all of the product’s features but very few, if any, of the results that the application of the product or service will produce for the customer.
The results that are produced should, in a perfect selling environment, involve some discussion of measurements and some quantification of the beneficial results that are produced.
Again, millions of salespeople have closed billions of dollars’ worth of products and services without selling. They have been telling.
But, the salespeople who earn the biggest commissions and have the most satisfied customers and the best careers are the salespeople who have mastered the ability to understand the value of the results that their product delivers.
They also understand that value is always defined by the customer or the prospect.
Customers bond with these salespeople and make purchase decisions, due to the fact that they understand the quantity and quality of results that will be delivered when they utilize the product or service that is being promoted by the sales professional.
Make sure your salespeople are engaged in selling rather than telling.
During your monthly forecast review (you do have a monthly review, don’t you?), determine what business-operating condition improvements will be produced when the customer embraces your solution.
If the answer is unknown, the sales professional must return to the customer’s location to understand what operating conditions will be improved, to what degree they’ll be improved, and how the prospect feels about the current situation.
If the prospect is uncomfortable with the status quo and you align your beneficial results with a resolution of their discomfort, your value in the eyes of the prospect go up immensely.
Make sure that you’re solving business problems, and personal sales stress will diminish, if not evaporate.[toc]