In my career, I have had the pleasure of selling everything from analog adaptors to ZIP drives; from art supplies to zippered deposit wallets.
Whether on the road or on the phone, I made friends with whoever I worked and shared desk space with. When I was young, seasoned sales reps showed me the ropes. Today, I always try to make time for the new sales reps who are “cutting their teeth,” so to speak.
One thing that always fascinated me, and provided spectacular entertainment, was what I like to call the “White Knight”. Referring to Medieval lore, the White Knight always comes to the rescue. Among other things, the White Knight promises (and rarely delivers) to get you the following:
· Best pricing
· Free shipping
· Break the rules and supersede managerial or company directives to satisfy you
· Lauds his previous achievements and glory
· Embellishes his title
· Turn his mom into the police to get your order
The list goes on. What always stopped me in my tracks was the guy who called a customer, introduced himself, stated why he was calling (usually one or all of the aforementioned bulleted points above), gave his contact information and said goodbye. The customer said “Hello” and “Okay, thanks for calling.”
What in the world did that sales rep accomplish? Probably at most a 90-second call to pad his stats. He made himself look pretty silly and incompetent to his customer and the bottom line is, he’ll never hit his numbers and succeed at the occupation he has chosen.
Where did the White Knight fall off his horse? Well he certainly used his mouth to scare the customer into considering the competition. But the weapon he did not use was his aural complement; that is, his ears!
I would argue that the ears, and the ability to listen to your customer, is oftentimes more important than the chatting up a storm, like the wind-bag that calls and promises you the moon, the stars, and the PBX!
Consider these hints on your next call to a prospect, vendor, a partner or customer:
· Cut down on the yes or no questions like “Do you need to order any pens today?”
· Ask more open-ended questions that require more than a yes or no answer like “I’ve noticed you have purchased quite a few pens lately; what do you attribute the spike in your business to?
· Discover what they did over the weekend
· Inquire about the town they live in and tell them if you’ve had an experience in their home town
· Pose a pertinent question(s) about their business
· Offer up legitimate value that can help them on the spot or in the long term–see if they are interested
I can tell you that more often than not, you will get quality responses from your business interaction by preparing for your call and lending an ear.
The goal of course, is to not simply get the sale. You’ll get the sale, but you’ll also build a relationship. Let’s face it, if you prove yourself as adding value to your customer, you’ll satisfy their need and succeed at your profession.
And then everybody’s happy.
People always value these professions:
A good mechanic to take care of your car
A great hairstylist/barber to offer the coiffure
A fine bartender to pour and listen
A reliable sales person to listen and deliver