“Greg,” said Harold, “I know that grin. For the past five years you’ve been selling us the lubrication oil and whenever you have that grin, you have something else to sell us.”
Greg walked into the office of Able Manufacturing, sat down across from Harold Covill, the president, and smiled.
“I don’t know how to tell you this. You may be upset,” responded Greg, as his grin disappeared and was replaced with a look of pain.
“What, nothing to sell me?”
“Worse.” Looking at his left hand, Greg loosened his tie with his right.
“Worse? You leaving the Linden Oil?”
“This isn’t easy for me ... I wanted to put off telling you . . .” Greg took a deep breath and looked up at Harold. “They are changing the formulation of the lube oil. In six months, all of your equipment will have to go through a three month change-over. Or you can switch to the competition. I’d understand.”
Greg averted his eyes and stared at the company pictures on the wall behind Harold.
“Is the new formulation any good?”
“Probably. You know what they say . . .”
“Yeah, newer and better than before.”
About a minute of absolute silence ensued. Greg fiddled with his tie, his sleeve cuff. Then finally looked back to Harold and saw he was grinning.
“Never thought you’d be grinning about this.”
“Well,” began Harold, “I guess I shouldn’t let you keep squirming. I appreciate that you didn’t try to sell me, but you are going to anyway.”
“Our competition has the old formulation.”
“Don’t care. I’ve been thinking about upgrading all of the equipment, and with the new lube coming, I think I will. I’ll get you the specs for the new units by tomorrow.”
Harold got up from behind the desk, “Stop looking so pathetic, Greg. You’ve solved my problem without even knowing what it was.”
Greg made this sale because he made it “safe” for the prospect to talk. The prospect came up with the reason to buy, not Greg. Since it was the prospect’s reason, the need to buy became very important and had to be acted on as soon as possible.
Greg has made the long journey that many salespeople never make. When he started out in sales, he knew nothing and still made sales which he attributed to beginner’s luck.
He then journeyed on to educating himself in-depth about products. He knew everything. His sales went up. Then, deciding that product knowledge was obviously the key, he spent untold hours learning every nut and bolt. His sales then started dramatically going up, and just as dramatically, going down. Up and down like a yo-yo.
Something wasn’t right.
So he found himself struggling to make sales and discovered a wonderful result. Watching him struggle on purpose, the prospects told him what they needed. His sales were higher than ever but more importantly, they were consistently higher, month in, month out.
Greg has journeyed to become a professional salesperson.
The biggest difficulty a salesperson will have in trying out this approach is one of self-image. The stereotypical salesperson is in a three-piece suit, perfectly groomed, well-spoken, has an answer for any objection that a prospect will ever voice and knows every closing line ever invented.
So you have to ask yourself, which is more important, selling your image of a salesperson or selling your product? Don’t answer this too quickly. Think about it.
Allowing the prospect to see you struggling, which you know you are doing on purpose, allows him to relax and open up. He wants to help you make the sale if your product works for him.
You “struggle” by asking questions, not giving answers. You may already know the answer, but ask the question anyway. The prospect may surprise you. You may find an answer you never considered. And that new answer, which the prospect gave you, may be the one to make the sale.
Consider this for a moment, if you already know all the answers, why bother with a meeting? Just call the prospect up, rattle off the answers and take the order.
But we know it doesn’t work that way.
It should not be the goal of the salesperson to sell his image. Selling your image doesn’t put money in the bank. Selling product does.