Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Good Salesmen Do Not Sell Their Product.. They Sell Solutions for Customer's Problems

Never forget: Everyone is a salesmen. Everyone is a salesman every waking moment of every day of the week. Good salesmen sell what the customer needs and wants to buy. 

Always think about the needs of others and what they want and provide solutions for them and you will succeed.

I got a phone call from my oldest daughter the other day. She is a professional Jazz vocalist in a very famous company here in Japan. In her company are some of Japan's top stars. That company is getting ready to release her debut album.

She phoned me, and in a nervous voice, said, "Daddy! I am at this giant meeting of music industry presidents and executives. They are listening to my songs. Things are getting really serious now. It is exciting but very scary. What shall I do?"

I wrote back to her: "Imagine that your life is a movie and that you are the star actress. What would she do in the movie? She'd 'wow!' those people. Give them what they want. They want a star, and they want you to be that star. So, give them what they want. It's simple."

She later wrote and email to me and thanked me and said, "It went great!" 

What did she sell them? Did she sell them what she wants to sell (herself) or did she sell them what they wanted to buy (a dream)? She did both. But she was smart enough to put their wants and desires first!

A few days ago, I got a call from a very dear friend who is a salesman. He wanted my help. He called me and, in a nervous voice, said, "Mike! I need to go meet the industry people. I want them to buy our products. This is really serious now. It's exciting but the pressure is on. What shall I do?"

I wrote back to him: "Imagine that your life is a movie and that you are the star actor. What would he do in the movie? He'd 'wow!' those people. Give them what they want. They want a star salesman, and they want you to be that star. So, give them what they want. It's simple."  

I hope he takes my advice to heart.

To be more specific, in the case of a salesman (and who isn't a salesman?), always remember what the client wants. If you go to the client with the purpose of saying, "I want you to buy my product!" Then you will most certainly fail.

You must always give people what they want. A good salesman will not go to meet clients and say, "I want you to buy this!" They will, instead, say, "How can I help you?"

Think about it. A good salesman at a clothes shop walks up to you and says, "How may I help you?" He  does not approach you and say, "I want you to buy this shirt." If he did say such to you, you'd feel offended and walk out.

Why do salesmen, when the shoe is on the other foot (pun intended), think they can do the same when they are selling their wares? No one cares what you want to sell. People are selfish. People are only interested in their own problems. They are not interested in yours. Good salesmen know this and, instead of selling what they want to sell, they provide solutions for clients. 

The other day, another friend called me and asked me if I would introduce him to my other friend who is the chief editor for the oldest, most widely read and famous women's magazine in Japan.

I asked him why he wanted an introduction. He told me that he wanted to promote his new online service to the magazine and, perhaps, have the magazine promote that service.

I asked if he was going to pay for the promotion or advertising. He said, "No!" I then told him that my editor friend is approached, I'm sure, dozens of times every week from people wanting him to use this powerful marketing tool to promote their product. But, if I introduce him to the editor, what is the benefit for the editor?

He couldn't answer. He hadn't thought of the editor's needs. He thought only of his own needs. 

Let's look at this simply. What do these two parties need?:

Mr. A owns a new social media service. He needs promotion. He wants Mr. Editor to promote his service in a famous magazine. 

Mr. Editor runs a famous magazine. He needs advertising revenue. He needs to increase readership. He needs to generate future income. Does he need to promote a new web service? No. And, if he does, will that help him achieve any of his goals? No. If he does or does not help Mr. A, will he make more or less money or will readers increase of decrease? Nope.

Mr. A needs to be thinking more about Mr. Editor's needs before he can even hope to get anywhere.

I haven't introduced Mr. A to Mr. Editor. Mr. Editor is my dear friend and will always pick up the phone when I call because he knows I am always thinking about how I can help him. I never "Take. Take. Take." He knows that. He knows that, if I call him, it's always to his benefit to answer.

After all, I am a salesman too. 

Whether with an introduction or none, the good salesman will always be able to open doors and start conversations when their approach is totally geared upon providing a solution to the prospective customers needs.

The client is not interested in what you want to sell. The client is only interested in finding a solution to their problem.

If you can be a part of that solution, you will be a great salesman and make big money. So remember to always think of your prospective customer needs first. Never meet a new client and start discussing your product. Always start discussions on their problems and needs. Sell people what they want to buy. Sell them a solution to their problems.


RYO said...

so true, if you know the needs of clients and you don't have right product in the stock, you can always search and find it for them.

diego.a said...

This post reminded me of your in-laws. Have you thought about having some beer can cozies/covers made with US soda logos? You wrap your beer cans with them and drink in public. That way people will point and whisper, "Look at that crazy gaijin drinking all that Dr. Pepper."

But, wait! There's more. You can even put your picture on them and claim you are a US soda exec and spokesperson for: Mike-a-lade.

You fulfill your daylight beer needs and your in-laws' needs for a respectable son-in-law.

boo said...

Unfortunately, the word "solution" has long been co-opted as a marketing codeword for "get the sucker to pay 100,000 yen for 1,000 yen of poorly-designed product plus 800 pages of bloated verbiage full of the latest b-school clichés."

Anonymous said...

I've printed this out for my son who's just starting out in life. I'm a teacher so I never use the word "solution". Nor am I selling anything of course so this piece has no relevance to me whatsoever.

Seriously, tho, tomorrow morning I have this particularly difficult class of young people. Reading your post, I wonder if I have not focused a little too much on what I want them to buy, and assumed that what I'm selling is (of course) a solution for them, one that they want (otherwise they wouldn't be in my class, right?). Hmm, thanks for giving me something to ponder.

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