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Imagine Making a Sales Call Without Mentioning the Product

By: Dave Brock


We are anxious to meet with customers to tell them all about our products and services. We practice the few questions we need to ask—you know the ones—they create the platform to launching into descriptions about how our product it the answer to everything they want to do. We practice our pitches, refining and polishing them, hoping that at the end, the customer pulls out a purchase order saying, “I need to buy a bunch of these!.”

Our product and marketing people train us incessantly on product capabilities, how we stack up against competition. They train us in the questions we should ask to elicit a need for our products, then provide us endless materials and presentations about the product and how customers buying them suddenly have all their problems solved.
Yet, we struggle to get customers to see us. We want to meet customers, we’re excited about what we have to sell, we just need someone willing to listen to us.
But customers have changed. They don’t care. They really don’t want to hear about our products. If, by some chance they do, they’ll research it themselves, minimizing their need to talk to us.
Things are clearly going the wrong direction. How do we accomplish our goals, how do we present our fantastic capabilities, what should we do?
Imagine a different kind of sales call……
What if we made sales calls without ever talking about our products and services? How could this even make sense?
If we couldn’t talk about our products and services, what would we talk about? Well there could be some pretty cool things.
We might talk about what the customer is really interested in. We might talk about their businesses. What’s happening, what problems they may be having.
We might bring them new ideas about how to grow, address new opportunities, improve their operations.
At some point, they might have identified a problem they need to solve. We might talk to them about the problem, its current impact, what they want to do. We might start identifying and prioritizing needs.
We might spend our time learning their perspectives and engaging them in different conversations—all without talking about our products and services.
But when do we get to doing something about their problems? When do we need to start talking about solutions?
Possibly not yet. Once we’ve identified what they are trying to do, we can talk to them about outcomes. We can pose questions, “What would it mean if your share position could be improved by  2-3%?” “How would it impact your customers and competitiveness if warranty claims could be reduced by 37%?”
We haven’t presented any solutions, we’ve not talked about our products. We’ve gotten them excited about making a change and doing something, but instead of focusing on products, we focus on outcomes. We get the customer committed to wanting to change their current situation and achieving certain outcomes.
None of this involves talking about our products. They are conversations focused on the customer. Where they are now, where they want to be, why, what the impact of that might mean?
Imagine making sales calls without ever mentioning the product. We can focus on the customer’s business. We can engage them in conversations about growing their business and more effectively achieve their goals. We can focus on what they want to do and potential outcomes. We can do so much of this without ever mentioning a product, or pulling out a product brochure. We can get to the point where the customer says, “We have to do this! How can you help me?” Then we might talk about a product—but we actually don’t have to spend that much time, since it’s just a vehicle to helping the customer achieve what they have already committed to.
This article was originally published by Partners in Excellence
Published: March 12, 2014

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Dave Brock

Dave Brock is the founder of Partners in EXCELLENCE, a consulting and services company helping to improve the effectiveness of business professionals with strategy development, organizational planning, and implementation. Dave has spent his career working for and with high performance organizations, ranging from the Fortune 25 to startups, including companies such as IBM, HP, Nokia, AT&T, Microsoft, General Electric, and many, many more. The work Dave does with business strategies is closely tied to personal effectiveness of the people in the organization. As a result, Dave is deeply involved in the development of a number of training and coaching programs.

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