As I’ll be starting a job as a salesman of shipping and freight services in September, I found the textbook’s chapter on selling and the processes and techniques involved to be very interesting. There were a couple major principles presented in the chapter that really stood out to me: listening and need satisfaction. These ideas are also important to Dave Matteson, CEO of Sandler Training, a professional sales training service, and author of The Sandler Rules: 49 Timeless Selling Principles and How to Apply Them. Kathy Caprino, of Forbes.com, summarizes Matteson’s book here
While sales may, on the surface, seem like a 1-way pitch from seller to buyer, it is much more effective to treat the sales process like a conversation. Not only is it easier to discover the customer’s needs and objections this way, it enfranchises the buyer and makes them feel more important in the process. As Caprino paraphrases, “Resistance is pre-programmed and people don’t like to be told what to do (or buy). A better approach than “selling by telling” is to ask key questions…When you ask questions that lead to a discovery, the prospect then “owns” the discovery and the resistance disappears.”
The book describes a process called “need satisfaction” that calls for simply discovering the buyer’s need, or helping them too, and offering them the product you feel best suits that need. Considering a buyer is in a need fulfillment state, meaning they are aware of their specific need, it is then up to the salesman to create differential competitive advantage. Matteson covers this in rule #21 saying that a mistake many salesmen make is “Over-educating the prospect when you should be selling.” Matteson’s point is that the first step is asking questions, before educating the client about your offering.
Finally, I found this interview with Rich DeVos, co-founder of Amway, describing his approach to selling, fascinating. Particularly, I enjoyed the first half in which he describes the mindset a salesman should have about losing a sale: