Cover Story: The New Art of Selling
Those current attitudes, along with everything associated with the economic meltdown, make consumers especially wary, leaving no patience for a slick-sounding pitch. The answer is to simply stop giving it to them.
“When a patient walks into a doctor, you don’t hear a doctor say, ‘Hey, wait, before you start telling me symptoms, I want you to know we have a sale on Valium this week’,” Ryan said. “They’re not trying to qualify you for an appendectomy just because there’s a special this week.”
In the same way as doctors, salespeople have to earn a person’s trust and then carefully ask a lot of questions and listen intently before making any suggestions about solutions. If you find out what problems a customer wants solved, you can make a spot-on diagnosis about the most effective products for particular needs and, thus, gain the customer’s trust.
But getting a customer to talk to you can be a trick in itself. Bryant’s training programs devote three hours just on how to say “Hello” to today’s consumers. “I can tell you, the words ‘May I help you?’ or ‘What can we do for you?’ destroy any chance you have of making the customer look at your company as a different place to shop,” Bryant said.