Sales Agent! Do not talk – listen!
Do you know sales agents? Overconfident men and women who believe they can sell you anything by just talking about it? Charm you – the customer - into submission, into buying a product, even though they really have no real idea of the product, its benefits and so on?
There are many sales agents who believe they can close any deal through nothing but glib talk and through the Art of Persuasion. Yes, that may have worked in the movie Glengarry Glen Ross – in fact many sales agents pick their idea of salesmanship from the admittedly brilliant David Mamet film – but it doesn’t always work like that in real life.
The consumer of today is a completely different animal. She is much more sophisticated, smarted and educated. And she has the power of internet to back her up. Any sales approach that isn’t cognizant of the new realities of the modern day consumer isn’t likely to succeed.
Sales has essentially been about getting people to move from one point of view to another. Sales is about changing the perspective of a person, opening up their mind to a new idea and stimulating their thoughts and imagination.
No, a salesperson does not have to be an extrovert at all – he or she does not have to be an entertainer or have the characteristics of a TV anchor to create rapport with the consumer and built trust. A salesperson of today should do what great customer service reps of a bygone era used to – ask relevant, pertinent questions, and listen to the customer’s answers.
The ABC or Always Be Closing of traditional salesmanship does not hold true anymore. Today, it has been replaced by the terms Attunement, Buoyancy and Clarity. There is no place anymore for the aggressive sales tactics of yesteryears.
The compulsively talkative salesman who forces his point of view upon a customer as though performing a hypnotic trick, is a relic in today’s times. What works is a different sort of persuasion skill that can be compared to persuading your child to do finish her breakfast.
Salesmanship today is about being calm, sensitive, quietly interactive and communicative, without ever being forceful or aggressive. Salesmanship is about engaging the customer, listening to their point of view as much as it is about expressing your own opinion about a product.
There is a certain level playing field between the buyer and the seller today, and it’s no longer about “buyer beware” – the situation has turned so much into the buyer’s favor because of the ready up-to-date information available on the internet about any product, that is is more about “seller beware”.
This is more so because the buyer holds all the cards today, unlike in the past when the seller held all the power at his disposal, primarily, the power of information. That power no longer belongs to the seller as the internet has democratized the distribution of information. Today, the buyer is all knowing and well informed, perhaps even more so than the seller himself about a given product or service.
As a seller you shouldn’t try to beat the buyer with information, it’s likely that the buyer knows more about the product or service you are selling. But what the buyer want to know if you really care about the product or service being sold. Maybe you don’t know much about what you are selling – at least not as much as the buyer – but are you sincere and passionate about it?
Passion is important and so are exemplary customer service skills. It’s no longer about talking to the customer, but listening to her. Listen to what the customer says about a product, wait for her to make her points and then, once she is finished and once you have truly understood her issues, that’s when you express your opinion about the product or service and lead her in the way you want – so that you succeed in making the sale.
Ask open ended questions. Learn from business coaches and find out how to as good questions to the customer. And then listen. Listen very carefully, because listening is an often underappreciated talent, but a highly effective one, when it comes to making a sale.
Empower the customer into making a decision. Don’t force a decision out of her, but play the role of a facilitator, sell, without really selling. Talk about the benefits, explain the features. And never get upset at being rejected – it’s just a part of the job. Remember, it’s not about you – it’s always about the customer.