Our customers will buy what they want, now what we want to sell.
That is kind of a pain isn’t it? No matter how great our product is. No matter how compelling our sales pitch is. No matter how absolutely convinced we are that our customer should be buying what we’re selling. If that customer doesn’t want it she is not going to buy it.
So many of us spend too much time trying to convince our customers to buy what we want them to buy and not enough time listening to them on the way to actually hearing what they want. We all do it. It’s a bad habit that we all have to try to get over.
We all spend hours and hours on sales strategies. We spend too much of our time developing tactics to get our customers to buy something. But none of us spend enough time on trying to find out that one very important thing…and that’s trying to find out what the customer wants.
Think about it, most great salespeople always seem to find a way. Great salespeople seem to be relaxed and content while they blow their sales forecast and quotas right off the charts.
Great salespeople are like Al Pacino’s character Ricky Roma in the movie GlenGarry Glen Ross. While all the other sales reps were complaining about the leads, complaining about their bosses, complaining about their lousy customers, old Ricky just breezed along making his numbers on the way to winning that first prize Cadillac. What was the difference? The difference was he played the cards he was dealt. And I am certain the most important thing he did was he gave the customers what they wanted.
I have a friend who owns a circuit board shop. When I was talking to him the other day he told me that his company had grown by over thirty percent last year. As I was about to congratulate him on his good work, he interrupted me to tell me that it was not growth in the right business. He told me that his global sourcing business, that is the boards he bought from offshore companies, had grown by over forty percent while the sales from the boards he built himself in his North American facility had stayed the same. It took me only a minute to point out that the boards he had bought from offshore and sold to his customers is what they preferred. It was what they wanted. I went on to tell him to listen to his customers, they were speaking to him loud and clearly with their orders and their dollars. They wanted his offshore business. The strategic direction of the company was laid out right in front of him. He needed to expand his offshore offering. He needed to listen to his customers and give them what they had demonstrated they wanted.
It’s all so simple. Just listen to your customers. They will tell you what they want. And your job is to find a way to give it to them.
Remember all the sales advice we’ve gotten over the years? How often have we been told to shut up and listen? Or there is a reason why God gave us two ears and only one mouth. Or you never learn anything while you’re talking. We have all heard those sayings. But most of the time we have not listened, we have not absorbed the message.
Most salespeople are so busy, so involved with letting their customers in on what they can do for them. How great their company is. How great their products are. How their products are so much better than the other guys, that they seldom leave time for the customer to fit a word in edgewise.
A great salesperson listens and hears her customers. Actually, she learns to question her customers, especially the ones she meets for the first time. She developed interview skills that would make Barbara Walters jealous and she gets the customer in front of her talking about what is most important to them, themselves, their company and their needs. She lets them tell her what they want.
There it is right there. Let your customers develop your sales strategy for their accounts. As a salesperson. If you are patient enough, if you are interested enough, if you are curious enough to be a good listener. If you care enough to ask the right questions, you will learn everything you need to know about successfully serving that customer.
Properly given the time to talk about his needs and his business, your customer will tell you exactly how to serve and succeed at his account.
The same applies to current accounts. By constantly listening to them, you will learn what direction they are going in. You will learn where they are headed, what their plans for the future are and they will tell you the right ways to meet their needs both today and in the future.
Sales is not difficult. Sales strategy is not difficult. Instead of sitting around a mahogany table with your team for hours, scratching your heads and trying to figure out what direction to take your company, all you have to do instead is listen to your customers, to those companies you want to sell to. Listen to them and hear them. They will tell you what they need and what you can provide them. It’s as simple as that and of course it’s only common sense.