A salesperson is meeting with a new prospect.
As the prospect begins to talk, the salesperson thinks, “I’ve heard this story before. She’s facing the exact same problem as Carl and Joe and Andrea and half a dozen of my other customers.”
Pretty soon, the salesperson gets antsy. He wishes he had a remote, so he could fast-forward this conversation to the end. Because he knows exactly how to solve this customer’s problem.
When the prospect is done, the salesperson doesn’t need to ask any questions. The sooner he can get to his solution, the better off for everyone.
By this time, two things have probably happened, neither of them good:
The salesperson misses the unique and subtle details that make this prospect’s situation different from Carl’s and Joe’s and Andrea’s. So he presents a solution that’s pretty close, but not perfect.
He communicates to his buyer that he’s more interested in his solution than her problem. She can sense his impatience as she speaks. When he has no questions, she thinks, “This salesperson wasn’t listening, doesn’t care and can’t possibly understand my problem.”
Let’s face it: If you’re an experienced salesperson, you’ve heard a million stories. But your buyer hasn’t told her story a million times. Maybe she’s described it to another salesperson or two. Or maybe you’re the first.
Remember when you were first starting out? For better or worse, every conversation with a buyer was an education. You hung on every word. You couldn’t ask enough questions. Which told buyers that you were really, really interested in their story. And that’s what buyers want to hear.
You can recapture some of the excitement of those early days. It starts with throwing out that feeling that you’ve heard this customer’s problems before. Even though you’re fairly certain you know what the customer is going to say, ask the same questions you would if you didn’t. The worst that happens is you hear something you already know, while giving your customer a chance to talk about their problem. At best, you might learn that this problem isn’t like all the others, giving you a chance to tailor your solution accordingly.
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