So there you are great salesperson. You have a collection of products and services to sell. All presented in living color on a well-designed website and in a beautiful printed catalog. Off you go to meet with the buyer proud of what you have to offer. But more importantly armed with the tools to understand the buyer’s problem or need.
Buyers Don’t Care What You Are Selling
Don’t believe this statement? Think about your own experience. Here’s one from my past. I needed a new lawn mower. I went to the local dealer and was met with the most enthusiastic salesperson. He wanted me to try the new 48” mower with power drive. I had a small yard I could cut in 20 minutes with a small electric mower. So since the salesperson didn’t take the time to understand my problem or need, I moved on to the next dealer.
Every successful sale starts with understanding the buyer’s problem or need. Once you have that understanding then open your laptop and show them the solution. Or flip to the page in the catalog with the product they need. If you are selling accounting software to a start-up company, focus on the fundamental need of keeping track of income and expenses. Service them well and as they grow add the other functions to manage their business.
How Do You Know What Buyers Want?
Well, hopefully you know the typical buyer’s problem or need for the type of business you are meeting with. Great salespeople bring their experience in solving problems to the buyer. But to find out what your current prospect’s need or problem is you ask good questions. My mentor Jim Wilson put it this way:
“In the old days, salespeople walked in knowing what they wanted to try to sell to the prospect. Well, those days are long gone. Today, the successful salesperson lets the prospect “paint the picture.” It is much easier to sell someone their own picture than to sell them one you create for them.
A few questions to ask are:
- If you could change one thing about your current situation, what would it be?
- In a perfect world, how do you see it?
- If you had your druthers…?
- What would have to happen to make you feel good about where you are?
Learn to ask the right questions, and keep probing until you see the prospect’s picture more clearly. It is difficult to paint someone else’s picture for him.”
Great salespeople have a “tool kit” of questions to ask the customer to determine the buyer’s problem or need.
Begin With The End In Mind
Great salespeople know they want to close the deal. The purpose of the prospecting process is to find, win and keep good customers. To do that they must focus on the buyer’s problem or need. A buyer has a problem when there is a limitation to achieving their goal. A growing company which needs better inventory control has a problem to be solved with an inventory management system. When my wife has a birthday coming up I need to get her a nice gift. Otherwise I’ll have a problem to solve. So great salesperson, by focusing on the buyer’s problem or need first you are in a position to present a perfect solution. When you do this the buyer feels your personal focus on them. You become a valuable asset to them rather than a product pusher looking for a quick sale.
What You Can Do Right Now To Focus On The Buyer’s Problem Or Need
- Practice asking the qualifying questions for your product or service until you are comfortable with them.
- Develop clarifying questions to be sure you understand the problem or need.
- Listening more and speak less.