As an extension to the lessons in the previous essay, â€œSelling: The art of Questionsâ€, I want to take a minute and expound on a very simple idea. It seems that as we prepare ourselves for a â€œselling momentâ€, our research and pre-work sometimes produces unintended results and outcomes. As I covered in the last essay, we need to take time and prepare thoughtful and â€œplanfulâ€ questions to use in â€œselling momentsâ€ in order to get the customer talking about his/her issues, opportunities or concerns. Even in moments where we have done this vital preparation, we still need to be prepared to review and cover our â€œselling propositionâ€ in detail. Now, not just detail or all the details, but â€œdetail enoughâ€ to secure the customers commitment to the sale. Sorting out this delicate balancing act, figuring out how to â€œSell the suit, but not the buttons,â€ is the core of this essay.
In my experience, it is so tempting to be given a venue to share your thoughts and expertise, that all of us are tempted to â€œgo overboardâ€ with un-needed levels of details. At times, it is a matter of â€œshowing offâ€ on how much one knows, whether with our without intent. At times I have seen it a result of the level of preparation or pre-work gone haywire. I was in a recent customer meeting that was going well from the first minute. The â€œbuyerâ€ was excited about our category, our brand and our products and seemed ready to â€œbuyâ€ almost anything we were selling. After a few questions to help us understand the landscape and the buyerâ€™s headset, my sales lead dove into the â€œdeckâ€ and started presenting our proposition. As I said above, the buyer loved it and started saying â€œyesâ€ immediately. Now this was on page 5 of a 25 page presentation and rather than slowing down and taking a breath, (see a previous essay titled â€œPBR: pause/Breathe/Reconnectâ€) the sales person kept driving forward, clearly unaware of the buyers status of already being â€œsold.â€ After a page or two more I intervened, literally placing my hand on the sales persons arm to get them to stop speaking for a moment, and asked the buyer a few questions on potential next steps, and any additional information requirements. They had no follow-up questions, needed no additional information, and instead wanted to talk about timing and executional elements. Quickly we turned to page 24 & 25, shared the dates, and timing of our plan which the buyer loved and 5 minutes later we were done. We sold the â€œsuitâ€, but almost had the â€œbuttons â€œget in the way!
I see this situation all too often, and sometimes at very high levels in meetings between senior executives. Work hard to use questions to help understand the â€œselling landscape.â€ Stay very aware to buyerâ€™s needs, and responses to your selling propositions. Remember to practice â€œPBRâ€ and slow down enough to actually see where you might stand in the situation and work to understand what the buyer needs/wants to know in order to say â€œyesâ€ to your proposition. And finally, try hard to remember to â€œsell the suit, donâ€™t sell the buttonsâ€ as you work to have success in your â€œselling moments!â€