“I Hate Selling!”
A few years ago, I sat down to lunch with one of the most fascinating people I have ever met. Jim Adams is the founder and owner of NewHomesDirectory.com, and he bleeds boldness in just about every way possible. When Jim gets an idea in his head, he is as determined as anyone I’ve ever seen in pursuing that dream. The success of his company is evidence of this fact.
At our initial lunch, Jim said something that intrigued me to no end. He said, “Jeff, I love everything about my job and my company except for one thing: sales. I hate the sales process.”
Now, if you know me at all, you’ll know that them’s fightin’ words. That statement had to be challenged. I asked Jim what was so disturbing about the sales process.
He replied, “Here’s the problem. I get an appointment with a company, and I’ll sit with them for 30 minutes. I’ll tell them about the product, about its track record, and about why this makes so much sense. I’m as excited as I know how to be. At the end of the presentation, they say something like, ‘We’ll get back to you,’ and that’s it. Often, I never hear from them again. I just hate being out of control.”
I could spot the flaw immediately and it had nothing to do with control. I offered Jim this advice: “Jim, the next time you have an appointment with a company, I want you to lead with this question: ‘Why am I here?’” Jim looked at me as if I had a hole in my head. I continued, “Jim, they’re going to look at you like you’re crazy. Just explain your question this way: “Look, you’re busy people and a lot of would-be service providers are asking for your time. You would not have agreed to meet with me unless something was wrong with your situation as it is. Let’s talk about that. If I have a solution, I’ll show you. If I don’t, I can save you some valuable time.”
Jim trusted me on this and took that exact approach with the next sales presentation he went on. The results were night and day different. He called me the next day, as excited as I have ever heard him. “It was incredible! The 30-minute meeting went for 90 minutes. We spent the first hour just diagnosing what was wrong. At that point, the solution rolled out right in front of us. We signed them up on the spot!”
Jim’s sales presentation has never been the same, and now he loves the process. Let me make a bold promise: If you understand the customer well enough, the sales path will roll our right in front of you. The customer will literally show you how to sell them your product.
There are two fundamentally different ways to look at the sales presentation:
Option 1: What do you have to sell?
Option 2: Why does anyone want to buy?
The difference in these two approaches tells us everything we need to know about our success in the business of sales. It also demonstrates who the star of this show happens to be – the seller or the buyer.
Assume for a moment that the insurance industry did not exist, and that you had to pick some other product to sell. I’ll tell you what I would choose: mattresses. That’s right, I’d sell mattresses for a living, and I would clean up. I would close on 90 percent of the people who walked into my showroom.
Cocky? Perhaps, but let me back up that claim. What do you suppose mattress salespeople want to talk about? (Hint: the answer has to do with something big and rectangular that you sleep on.) That’s right – mattress salespeople want to talk about mattresses. Not me! If I were a mattress salesperson, I would want to talk about current dissatisfaction.