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Sales Solutions
Whose Pitch Are You Buying? vol 5, issue #11
November, 2008

"I ask you to elect me your President, because I've been a senator for 18 years.  Because I went to BigshotUniversity.  Because I live in the country's most populous state.  Because I've traveled the world extensively.  And I was an All-American athlete in college.  Elect me because I,,,"


What would be your gut reaction to such a pitch?  If you're like most people, you'd be scratching your head, saying, "That's nice.  But what's in it for me?   What if, on the other hand, the candidate asked you to vote for him because he'd make the country safer and more secure for you and your children?  Because he'd lighten your tax burden.  Clean up your environment.  And make a trip to the doctor more affordable. 


You probably see where I'm going with this.


This very day, we in the United States are making some very important choices.  For a President.  For congressmen. For representatives.  For or against ballot proposals.  To a great extent, our choices will have been directly impacted by how well each of the candidates connected with our needs, our dreams, our fears, and our concerns.  The ones who took the time to understand what those were, and to develop and propose programs and policies that address them - those are the ones who will get elected.   The ones who created a sense of trust.  In any competitive situation - whether you're selling yourself to the public for an elected office, or your product or service to a customer of your company - the one who wins is the one who best connects with what the "customer" wants, and who earns their trust.  That's the one who wins the prize.


In the world of sales in which I live, I too often encounter salespeople who don't know, don't understand, or don't implement this simple axiom.  They are so enamored of their product, so eager to extol its virtues, so focused on showing and telling the customer about all its wonderful features, that they forget the cardinal rule of all selling:



Customers make decisions to buy for their own reasons, not for yours.


Just as our first candidate - by talking about the "features" of himself - failed to connect and build trust with us (his electorate), so too will you fail failed to connect and build trust with your customers if all you do is talk about the features of your product or service.  And you can't know what a customer's reasons for picking your product over that of your competitor are - nor propose an appropriate solution - unless and until you find out.  And the way you do that is by asking questions, and then presenting the relevant benefits of your product or service, supported by the appropriate features.

In a previous issue, we touched on what those questions were. The key is to ask questions that demonstrate to the customer that you are sincerely interested in understanding his situation, his concerns, his worries, his needs, and his goals - that is, that you are customer-centered, and customer-focused.  This scores big points with customers, and goes a long way to both building trust, and positioning you as a front-running trusted advisor, instead of an as also-ran sales person.  Once you have a good fix on what a "win" is for a customer, then you're ready to present your solution.  Best of all, your customer, having gotten all his "stuff" out, is now prepared - no, eager - to hear how you're going to help him.



Block out a half hour to sit down and think about all the needs, wants, and goals a customer might have, and all the concerns, worries, and reservations he might have about your product, your company, or even you. Then jot down a few questions designed to draw these out (for a list of questions I ask, click here).  Then ask your manager to ride along with you on your next couple of initial (qualifying) appointments to make sure you use these questions, and to observe how they work.  I'm confident that after just a few meetings, you start seeing significant improvement in the percentage of deals that advance to the final stages, and that eventually close.


Now that's a pitch I'd vote for!

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