In his New York Times BestSeller ‘To Sell is Human‘, Daniel Pink presents the ‘Fuller Brush’ salesman as an illustration of how sales was done in the past (and shouldn’t be done in the present). The Fuller Brush salesman carries a bag stuffed with all kinds of brushes, moves from one house or office to another, and inundates whosoever chose to listen, with how great the brushes are. By the late 1930s, there were more than 5,000 of the Fuller Brush salesmen who had sold out 12.5 million Handy Brushes in the US. They succeeded then, ultimately, because they could talk.
That was 1930. This is 2016.
Yet, there’s still that erroneous perception that a good salesperson is the one who can talk the most. Talk your way into every situation. And then you talk your way out of every objection. Some decades ago, perhaps, it was ideal to be doing all the talking because the salesperson had more information than the potential buyer. Not today! The salesperson is not the sole concierge of information. Information is everywhere. Customers have become more informed. More intelligent. And more empowered.
Listening is a more powerful quality than talking – at least in software sales. When we listen, we more clearly understand the pains of the customer. And what the customer wants to achieve. Then, we can ask the right questions. And potentially offer the right solutions that will enable the potential customer to achieve her own goals or solve her problems.
But if we’re always talking, we only hear ourselves. The bad news? We’re not selling to ourselves. Talking makes us self-absorbed, rather than customer-focused. We miss opportunities to learn. We second guess customers. We do not get to the core of their pain. We do not understand their situation. And we have little clue as to how the solution we are offering can be used to increase the prospect’s value. And the customer’s trust grows weary.
Instead of talking all the time during a sales call with a prospect, a better way is to listen more. And ask more questions. Show genuine curiosity in her business. That will move the chat forward. That will unearth more insights which will drive the conversation forward. That will make you better. And move you closer to closing a deal.
Author: Kwesi Sakyi-Gyinae