When I started working in sales, I recall a conversation with a wise and experienced sales person where I asked the question, “What do you think sales is all about?” I remained quiet and listened to what he had to say. He explained sales is about painting word pictures, and salespeople are the artists. If your customers and prospects like the picture and see themselves succeeding, they will buy. At the time, I thought this idea was kind of silly and too simplistic. It was not what I expected from someone who had been selling for over 30 years. Now that I have decades of experience, I’ve come to understand just how wise he was.
The inspiration for this article came during one of our recent training programs. I was conducting practice sales calls with one of our attendees, and I remember losing my train of thought, because I had no interest in what the sales person was saying. He had not asked any questions. He behaved as if he already know what solution he was going to pitch without determining what I needed or wanted. The picture he painted was his own and not mine. Anyone who has looked at group photos knows firsthand that the most interesting photos are the ones that include themselves. After this call, I understood why my customer’s clients were not interested in what he offered. The word pictures were only of him. They all seemed to be the same and were delivered with little or no enthusiasm.
What word pictures are you painting? Are they yours or your customers? Are you painting your pictures with enthusiasm about customized solutions for each customer or prospect? Here are a few tips that we practice.
The next time you work with a prospect or customer by phone, email, or even voice mail, determine the behavior style of that person. Each customer or prospect has a behavior style (a way they like to conduct business) where he or she naturally resides. If we, as sales people, are going to meet the expectations of customers and prospects, we need to customize our delivery to meet their style. If we don’t, the picture we paint will not appeal to them.
Listen to your calls. As time passes, it becomes difficult to maintain the required level of enthusiasm needed to attract and keep customers. Sometimes we fall into a routine where our messages sound the same and we treat all of our customers the same. Be aware, while you may not notice this, your customers will. I recall a time when I replayed some of my voice mails and could easily understand why no one was returning my calls. I sounded the same in each message. Have people listen to you and ask them to give you genuine feedback. This helps you understand how others perceive you. Avoid routine. If you are bored, your prospects will be bored.
Practice on your coworkers. Make sales calls on the people with whom you work. Just as we do in our courses, record the calls. This is a powerful method of learning. Again, ask yourself about your delivery and word pictures. Are you convinced you would buy from yourself? If not, what should you change? If so, why? Are you approaching the sale with your contact in mind? Are you tailoring your method of delivery to the individual you are calling? If not, practice the ideas listed here, ask for suggestions, and you are always welcome attend one of our upcoming courses for professional guidance!