The single most important principle I have learned about sales since 1980 is to find out what the other person wants and help them achieve it. There is only one way to do that, by building a relationship that is built on trust. You could have the best product or service on the planet but your prospect or customer will not take action unless they know, like and trust you. Trust is something that is developed over time. It is not a one-time transaction. I learned a painful lesson early on in sales. The first sale is always the easiest one. What comes after that is a true test of mastery.
How do you develop and build trust? It starts with putting yourself in other people's shoes. Do you treat others how you would like to be treated? When building a relationship that is going to last, it's important that you put their interest before your own. The people you serve are not as concerned with how much you know, although knowledge is important, they are more concerned that you care about what is important to them.
Do you show up on time? If you tell a prospect or customer that you are going to call them at 10:00 am. and you don't call until 10:05 am., is that okay? Depends. Was there an emergency that prevented you from making the call at 10:00 am. or were you not paying attention to the time because you are disorganized or you didn't think that five minutes is no big deal? Remember this, being casual leads to casualty. I love Vince Lombardi's definition of lateness, “Lombardi time” where only if you were 10-15 minutes early, only then were you not late.
Do you clearly understand your prospect or customer's problems that you are trying to solve? The best ways to do that is the art of asking the right questions. One of the best books that has ever been written on the subject of sales is, “How I Raised Myself From Failure To Success In Sales” by Frank Better. The book was written in 1949. You can still get a paperback copy of the book at www.Amazon.com. One of the things I really like about the book is how to ask the right questions to find out what is important to the other person. In other words what does the other person want or what motivates them to take action. Once you understand what the other person wants or what motivates them then you can show them how to get it.
Recently we were having problems with our internet connection. My wife, Jane, called customer service to explain the situation. The woman on the other end of the phone had no interest in learning about what we were experiencing. She was scripted like a well oiled robot. I took over the phone and tired to explain the situation. The customer service person had no interest in my point of view and it was clear to me she wasn't listening. At one point in the call I had to ask her, “Are you still there?” She responded with yes, and then proceeded to read from her well tuned robotic approach. I was floored. I handed the phone back to my wife in total frustration. Eventually a service technician came out to our house. He approach the situation like someone who cared. He asked many questions, listened intently and fixed our problem.
If you don't have the right solution, are you willing to recommend your prospect or customer to your competitor? It goes back to what I said earlier, putting their needs before your own. Helping them find the right solution that is good for them, even though you may not receive any compensation. Have you become a trusted advisor so when they have a need outside of your area of expertise you can introduce them to your network of solution providers?
How are you exceeding your prospect's and customer's expectations? Several months ago my wife and I were traveling on business. We had some free time so we went for a walk in the area we were staying. We found a nice restaurant to have lunch. The food was great and the service was excellent. When we finished paying the bill I asked the waitress if she could eat at any restaurant in town for dinner where would she go? She immediately responded, “You have to eat at The Pink House.” Now, she could of responded with, “You should eat here and this is why.” But she didn't.
We made a reservations for The Pink House that evening. The food and the service was off the charts! After we finished eating the server came around with the desert tray. It was beautiful. My wife and I were so full there was no way we were going to indulge in one of these deserts. What we really wanted was a bowl of fruit, which wasn't on the tray or the menu. I asked the server if the chef would be willing to make us up a plate of fruit. She said, “Let me see what I can do.” Several minutes later, she came out with the most beautiful plate of fruit, with a raspberry sauce delicately drawn over fruit plate that looked like a work of art. I was speechless. It was one of the highlights of the evening. We finished our desert and it came time to pay for dinner. I looked at the bill and again I was speechless, there was no charge for the desert. It doesn't surprise me that this restaurant is one of the busiest in town.
One of my favorite quotes comes from a master salesman Zig Ziglar, “You can get everything in life you want if you help enough people get what they want.” It's so true.
How are you helping the people you serve achieve everything they want?