“People buy what they want. They have to be sold what they need.” – Unknown
Heard that one before? Remember that from those old tapes still playing way back in the recesses of your mind? Most likely there are still some memories of how those widgets you are selling are such good widgets, that everyone needs several of them – or an annually renewing subscription.
To be a really effective sales person, that inner conviction that you’ve got the widget that everyone needs is important. Almost as important as the personal ethics to avoid selling your prospect something they don’t need.
Here’s the situation presented to health insurance salesman, Brian Goodwin:
“I once made a sales call to a middle aged couple. The husband had recently been laid off, and they were on COBRA, which if any of you out there know, is not cheap (the rates are calculated on group insurance rates, which to many people's surprise, are more expensive than individual policies!). He had started a real estate investing company and was now in business for himself.”
When Brian set the appointment he “pre-qualified” his prospect to make sure they could afford to buy. They obviously had a need and some cash flow from the new business. In their minds, the man and his wife had already decided to buy. Let’s see what happened next. For a salesperson to satisfy the needs of the client, we need to know what those needs are. An appropriate segue would be, “To save time and better determine how I can help you, would you mind if I ask you a few questions?”
Now, back to Brian: “The husband chimed in at about this point, letting me know that they never make 'spur of the moment' decisions and that they wanted time to discuss it. I said, 'great, that's why I'm here! Let's take all the time you need to figure out how you want this structured so I can help you out of the problem you contacted me to fix.' He got more defensive this time. 'Look', he said, 'I hope you don't think I'm signing up tonight, because I'm not.' I realized that in being laid off and his situation being difficult, he was really protective of his finances.”
This is an interesting dilemma for a professional salesperson whose goal is not to sell something to earn a commission, but to help his client. If the client is helped this time, there is an excellent chance they’ll become clients for life. A poorly trained agent that had little or no confidence in himself and his product may have thrown in the towel. This is a case where the prospect had a significant need. Suppose this couple had been in a serious auto accident the next morning – without adequate coverage? If you can’t stand up at the Kiwanis Club and say with pride, “I’m in sales!”, how will you get through this situation? If you’re sitting there in someone’s home in a polyester suit, dandruff on your shoulders, using a cheap ball point pen and sporting a five o’clock shadow, are you showing them that you are the professional they can trust to save them? Would they allow you to forge ahead and press the issue?
Brian had the confidence and courage to continue. After some discussion about why he was there, available alternatives, and the prospect’s needs, he was able to let the prospect:
“close the deal on himself, I wanted to have him acknowledge that my policy was better, and that I had actually come to help him. My goal was complete. The competitor may have closed the deal if he had been more confident in himself, or if he had really been there to help them. I had both!”
If you are going to be in sales for a living (or just extra income) and want to be successful, make a solid commitment. Get the training you need so you can be confident and know your product. Sell yourself and establish some trust. Put yourself in the position so that your prospects will trust you to help them make the best choice! When you’ve done these things you can, like Brian Goodwin, look in the mirror on your way to an appointment and say, “I’m in sales! And I’m proud of it!”
Special thanks to Brian Goodwin for his contribution. Visit his site at: http://www.Goodwin4.info