I’ve been thinking – about the tale of two companies. The first company struggles to make every sale. The second company makes most sales with ease. Why is that? Why are their experiences so different?

The first company has many prospective customers in their sales funnel, and they make a lot of calls each week. They describe in detail what their product does and list its many features. Sometimes they’re invited to demo the product to the customer. The sales rep whizzes through every feature, taking the customer on a dizzying tour, speaking quickly of the advantages, hardly pausing for breath. The customer listens patiently, ask a few questions, and makes some positive noises about being impressed with the product.

Then, before the sales rep can close the deal, the customer explains that they are currently very busy, but they invite the sales rep to get back in touch in a few months.  Encouraged, the rep reaches out after two months, endlessly optimistic that a sale is imminent. But the customer has an endless list of excuses as to why they aren’t ready to buy. Soon they stop responding to the rep’s persistent calls and emails – actively ending further conversation. No sale!

The second company makes many fewer sales calls but closes significantly more deals regardless. They don’t meet with the customer to sell them anything. They meet to learn more about their challenges and understand how specific problems are impacting their lives. They let the customer talk, asking great questions to uncover the reason a problem exists before they suggest a solution. And then, they don’t overwhelm the customer with the entire list of product features. They speak only about the identified problem – drawing a clear path from the customer’s problem to their solution. The features of the product aren’t important at this stage. It only matters that the customer sees that the proposed solution can solve their problem.

I think that the first company struggles because they are selling a solution. Wanna buy a watch? It doesn’t matter what the customer’s problem is. They focus only on their solution. They don’t start the sales call trying to understand why the customer always seems to be late. They begin the meeting sharing the entire list of watch features – believing that the customer will be able to make the correct leap from their problem to a particular feature and understand how that feature will solve their problem.  This company believes that the amazing features of the product will motivate the customer to buy.

How is the second company different? I think they would work to understand why the customer is always late. If they discover that the customer loses track of time and leaves late for their appointments, the only relevant feature might be the alarm. There is no need to tell them about the oyster shell dial, the adjustable strap, the hard-as-nails crystal, or the jewelled mechanism. To the customer, these features have nothing to do with their problem and in their mind, might be adding to the price of the watch for irrelevant features – at least irrelevant to the solution of their problem.

I think being good at sales means being good at asking questions and actively listening to the answers. I don’t think it has anything to do with being a fast talker and a smooth talker. I think you just have to care about your customer.

What do you think

Until tomorrow, GUNG Ho friends!