It has often been said in the sales arena that the old guys know all the tricks. They are the silver tongued devils that have the greatest gift of gab; consequently, they tell great jokes and have the most persuasive tongue.
Additionally, more seasoned sales gurus have all these relationships and know all the right people. And while relationships do, on occasion, have some bearing on the old guy’s ability to create opportunity; it’s really their practice of the following that has allowed them to achieve success.
- Stop, Look, and Listen:
Many times when visiting with a customer or potential customer, we generally have an agenda or business concept that we want to present. And, all too many times I’ve seen salespeople just talk over the perspective customer. Most often, I have found that if I let the customer speak, I’ll find out so much more.
Over the years, the best skill I have learned is the ability to listen. Most times, if given the chance, our customers will tell us exactly what their biggest challenges are and offer us opportunities to help them fix those issues.
A great deal can also be garnered from actually seeing a partner’s work environment. Looking can help to determine if they have the proper resources to accomplish their goals.
Questions that can be answered by simply looking:
- Do they have facilities to bring in equipment?
- Do they have staff to configure and test equipment?
- Do they have the ability to transport large amounts of equipment?
- Do they have sufficient personnel to handle marketing, administration and other back office responsibilities?
- What’s Important to the Customer:
Often when adopting our own agenda, we lose the opportunity to really get to the heart of where we can be of the most assistance. So, unless you can have the initial conversation that expands into the larger conversation, say going from “Where’s my such and such!?!” to “What’s the real, bigger issue?” you’ll never know what opportunities were there and how well you could have tackled them.
I often ask the partner, “What can we do to make your job easier?” or “What’s your single biggest headache?”
It’s always much better to focus on your customer’s needs rather than what you would like to sell at the moment. A moment of sincere concern will help to build those long-term relationships that the “old guys” always seem to have.
It may seem obvious, but most people forget the trust factor when trying to develop a relationship.
However, that’s the heart of what we do: We develop and nurture relationships.
Unfortunately salespeople, in the most traditional sense, are saddled with a stereotype: Hard charging, aggressive, difficult, out for themselves, and on and on…
It has been my experience that if I practice the first three things mentioned—stop, look and listen—and find out what is important to the customer, I then have the basis for developing something with an individual or organization. Accordingly, if you exhibit integrity, sincerity and good business acumen for what they are trying to accomplish, you will have a relationship for life.
And, most importantly: Don’t ever lie!
Bad news is often difficult to deliver, but almost everyone would rather know the truth and deal with that rather than speculate on exactly what the truth is; dishonesty kills all relationships, especially in business.
So, there you have it…a few tips from the old guy on the sales floor, aka the Crypt Keeper.
- Stop, Look, and Listen.
- Take the customer’s needs into account.
- Nurture trust.
Incorporate those tips into your sales strategy, and you will be successful.