When we think of salespeople the first thing that comes to mind is the slimy cold caller/spammer. We don’t trust them. They want to get in our wallets. They talk A LOT. They spew all the information about themselves and the product they are selling and somehow their use of buzz words is supposed to impress. All they want to do is “close the sale” and get a “yes” out of you. Sales has a negative connotation in many places. It’s viewed as selfish and dishonest.
GOOD sales is not like that. Good sales is about listening. You need to listen to a potential customer’s needs and desires. What do they need? What do they want? What problem are you trying to help them solve? Is your product actually the solution or are you trying to fit a square peg in a round hole to make a quota?
Recently, I had a call with a potential client. His name is Kulraj. As usual, the he started by asking what our company does and I fell into the trap of “showing them what I’ve got”. I listed our companies and what each one does. That’s exactly what slimy salespeople do! I quickly course-corrected and posed a question to receive more context about his organization. I paused for the response. It wasn’t long before this stranger poured out his heart to me.
Kulraj told me the truth about why he started this organization and why it’s important to him. His intelligent, hardworking daughter was in her first year studying dentistry abroad when a rare disease struck. The disease, Guillain-Barre Syndrome, took Jas’ life in 1 day. She was only 26. This happened just 2 years ago. It was still very fresh for Kulraj, so I deeply appreciated his sharing. I can’t imagine what it feels like, as a parent, to lose a child.
He went on to tell me that this disease hasn’t even in medical school curriculums until recently. Even if his daughter had made it to the hospital it would have taken extremely long to diagnose due to lack of training and awareness. The symptoms of Guillain-Barre Syndrome aren’t well known, so those who contract it may not know how serious it is; therefore, Kulraj, his younger daughter, and just 1 other volunteer decided to start this nonprofit to raise awareness for this disease: The Canadian Guillain-Barre Syndrome Awareness Society.
Hearing the story was truly heartbreaking.
I didn’t need a yes. That wasn’t the point. My aim is to listen to his need and come up with a win-win. I gave Kulraj a ‘yes’ in my heart. I believe in this. I genuinely want to help him start this nonprofit. This sale didn’t get closed. This relationship began.
Perhaps, if I was busy selling hard from the get-go, it would have been a real turn off and he wouldn’t have shared. I’m not here to boast of how wonderful my agency is and how we’ve raised millions of dollars for charities. That doesn’t mean that our solution is what’s best for the Guillain-Barre Syndrome Awareness Society. But truly understanding a client’s needs and desires will go a long way in finding what the solutions IS rather than merely ‘closing a sale’.
I encourage more salespeople to take this approach. Maybe it doesn’t get you the customer/client because your product or service ISN’T a fit. If it’s not a fit for many people, consider refining your product or service. With the listening rather than talking sales approach, you come away sharing something with another human being, thinking through their problem together, empathizing with someone, and learning from their experiences. You may be surprised how many more sales you end up closing with this more honest and helpful tactic.