You are probably thinking: “Crawford, you have really lost it now. This quarantine is getting to you. Of course they are buying what I’m selling. I got the sales to prove it.” Really? It’s true nobody buys what you are selling. Your customers buy because they are convinced your product or service will solve a problem they have. Great salespeople know that to make a sale they first have to identify the problem the prospect has. And they make the sale because they can put the buyer’s mind at ease by solving the problem. The product or service is a means to an end for the buyer, not the end itself.
First Find The Pain
All great salespeople have a selling system. The one I use challenges me to find the pain early. Yes, pain. All purchases are made emotionally even though it may feel like a rational approach to the buyer. Salespeople must discover the buyer’s problem and the impact of the problem. Once they understand the buyer’s need for change, great salespeople offer a solution to the problem. Depending on the severity of the problem price may be the least of the buyer’s concerns.
Think About Your Experience
For you regular readers, you’ll remember I use toothpaste examples for simple consumer purchases. But not today. To show nobody buys what you are selling, I’ll use a personal dentist story. A few weeks ago, I broke off part of a tooth. So off I go to my dentist. He does his examination, asks some questions and makes a couple of recommendations for repair. Some of the repairs can be done quickly and others may take several weeks. My problem was a broken tooth. It wasn’t painful yet but eating was difficult. (my problem) I wanted it fixed quickly. So I opted for the method where the dentist could make a crown in his office. Only after the decision was made and the appointment set did I ask the price. It was reasonable so we went ahead. I didn’t visit the dentist to buy a crown for my tooth. I wanted to have a serviceable tooth so I could comfortably eat the foods I enjoy.
How About The “Rational” Business-to-Business World?
Here’s a classic B2B story of how to redefine the pain. When I sold for a safety products distributor, a buyer of safety products at a rail road company sent a letter asking for a 5% reduction in price on all they purchased. Typical buyer! He thought his problem was paying too much for the products he bought. Our VP sent a somewhat snarky letter to the buyer asking him: “Why only 5%? Why not 20%?” The buyer took the bait and we ended up meeting with the buyer and the safety manager. The pain question in the meeting was directed at the safety manager: “What was your most pressing safety concern?” The answer was the rail yard workers getting struck by trains at night. Our solution was to design a whole new set of clothes, gloves, hats, etc. for the rail yard workers using highly reflective material. Those guys showed up like the bright lights of Las Vegas when caught by the head light of a train. The customer saved more than just the 20% we teased them with. And our gross sales to the company increased. All because we recreated the pain point and provided a solution.
What Problem Do You Solve?
Great salespeople don’t focus on the products and services they sell. They focus on the problem a buyer has. So take an inventory of the last 10 sales you made. List the characteristics of the buyer. For consumer it might be age, gender, socio economic status, education etc. In the B2B world consider the industry, job description, geographic location, size of company, etc. Then identify the problem you solved for them. Perhaps for the consumer you replaced the windows in their home making it more comfortable while saving energy costs. For the B2B buyer maybe you helped them reduce inventory costs freeing up those funds for business expansion. Remember nobody buys what you are selling. But they will pay you to solve the problem that keeps them awake at night.
What Can You Do Right Now Since Nobody Buys What You Are Selling?
- Realize your products and services are only a means to and end
- Understand the problems your best customers depend on you to solve
- Develop a set of key questions to find out the customer’s problem