Friday, January 20, 2012

Want to be Rich? Sell People What They Want to Buy, Not What You Want to Sell Them

It's so painfully simple. Sell clients what they want to buy and you will be rich. 

You can tell by looking at this guy that he doesn't care about you or even what you want 

Ah! But easier said than done. Most salesmen do not get rich because they keep trying to sell people what the salesman has to sell, not what the people want to buy. How can the salesman sell people what they want to buy? How can the salesman know what people want to buy?

Simple. Ask them.

I meet salesmen all the time and constantly have to repeat myself when it comes to this point. No matter how many times I repeat it, it still bears repeating as sales people don't seem to get it: Sell people what they want to buy and you - and what you have to sell - will always be in demand.

It doesn't matter if it is a product or service, or even you, learn what the customer wants and sell that to them. 

I must be poor at explaining this concept to people. Why? Because, yesterday, with my own staff, I had to explain it again, and I've worked with that person for several months! I had to explain it again! Folks, this was at least the 5th or 6th time I've had to go through it.

"Have I got a great deal for you!"

Here it is again: Sell customers what they want to buy, and not what you want to sell them, and you will be rich. Does this sound like some sort of word game or Za Zen Buddhism? It isn't. 

Like I said, my explanation must be bad. Let me try again, this time let me put you into the head of the customer. Imagine that you are the customer in this next scene.

Here goes two examples. One is the example of a bad salesman. The other is a good salesman. Which, as a customer, do you prefer?:

Example A: 

You are the customer. You go into a clothes store because you want to buy a new coat. The salesperson approaches you. The sales person holds up a pair of bright red and white striped slacks and says to you, "Hello! Please buy these pants!" 

Do you buy the pants? Probably not. You probably run out of the store and think this sales clerk is nuts. You certainly don't like being approached this way. And you probably won't go to that store again.

Unfortunately, this is how most salespeople are approaching their sales job today. The honest sales manager and sales person will admit it.

Example B: 

You are the customer. You go into a clothes store because you want to buy a new coat. The salesperson approaches you. The sales person says, "Hello! May I help you find something today?" Do you answer? Do you say, "I'm looking for a coat"?

Yes, you do. Why? Because the salesperson has offered to help you find what you are looking for. The sales person knows where most of the merchandise is located so, if you are really serious, you will respond positively as it saves your time and is convenient.

This salesperson has asked what you want and you answer because you really do want something and you have walked into their shop to look for it.

It is so simple. Find out what the customer wants and see if you can fill their need. 

Aha! But it's different if I am a salesman and I go to the customers home or place of business. This is true. In the example above, the customer has walked into the clothes store for a reason. How does the salesman create communication and trust with a customer - when visiting that customer at home or work - so that they can explore what the customer wants to buy? Simple again. Ask. Create communication. Do not say, "Buy these pants!" Ask how the salesman can help the customer achieve what they want. 

"You don't need a new refrigerator! Buy this car!"

I work with a lot of mass media; broadcasting stations, both TV and radio, and magazines. They all have a problem. Under their traditional way of doing things, they are selling what they want to sell. They are like the sales person in Example A. All of these salespeople make appointments with clients and then go to see them and ask them to buy time slots in programs that have already been decided on. I can't name one broadcasting salesman - and I know several at many different TV and radio stations - who is out asking the clients what they want to buy and making the effort to fill customer needs. (Recently, though, I know a magazine who has been doing that and has begun to do very well doing so).

The broadcasting station salesmen are like used car salesmen in the United States; they are still selling their services they way they were sold 40 years ago: One way sales. Instead of creating open communication and having the ability to answer customer needs - and offer a flexible, wide array of services and choices, the broadcasting stations are still selling time slots on TV and radio. The great salesman will be creative and offer solutions to customers. 

Are you still selling yourself or your services and products the way you were doing it ten or twenty years ago? If you are, then it should be obvious why your sales are bad. Is there any successful company in the world selling things they way they did twenty years ago? Not is the west and not in Japan there aren't.

Become a needs and solutions provider for your customers. Do some research on them. Go to their web page and see what they are doing for in-house promotions. See how you can support. Get information and knowledge. Talk to the customers and ask them what they want.

Find out what they want to buy and help them to get it. Brainstorm and offer creative solutions... Once you do and trust is made, perhaps then and only then, you'll be able to sell them what you want to sell them.

But first you have to find out what they need and help them get it.

This article was inspired by Kimitoshi, Youichi and Tom

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