This mistake goes way back. Probably to the very beginning in sales. In 1937 Robert Collier mentions it in “The Robert Collier Letter Book”. Funny how some things don’t seem to change.
To help you really understand this mistake I want you to think back to when you first started selling whatever you are selling now whether a product or service. What was the first thing you thought you had to do? If you have a sales manager they probably told you…
You Have to Know Your Product Before You Can Sell Your Product
This big fat myth sets you up to make the most costly mistake you will ever make in your sales career or in the life of your business.
So you study all the ins and outs of your products. You think of objections prospects might have about your product and plan how you will respond. Soon you are like a walking talking product encyclopedia and that is how you cost your self big money.
“Study your reader first — your product second”
Now why would he make such a blasphemous suggestion?
Because Robert Collier, a direct response marketer, understood how to sell. He knew until you understand human nature and human reaction you aren’t just leaving money on the table…
You Are Chasing Money Away!
Just think about how this plays out in everyday life. Here comes a prospect already in the early stages of the buying process. When I say already in the early stages of the buying process I mean they at least already recognize they have a need and now they are looking for options to take care of that need.
You greet them exchange a few niceties then you launch into a spiel about your product. This automatically makes the prospect uncomfortable because they don’t like being sold. They impatiently wait for you to slow down or pause so they can ask a question.
When they finally get their question in what do you do? Why you launch into another diatribe about product details that answer their question. Or at least you think you are answering their question.
In reality, you probably aren’t addressing the real question they have because you did not understand what they were really asking.
The frustration escalates in this back and forth exchange of you streaming the product catalog at the prospect and them trying to get you to shut up long enough to actually hear what they are telling you. Even the ones who buy aren’t happy with their experience, they aren’t happy with you, and they tend to project their displeasure onto the product meaning you can expect returns.
Now if only you knew about Robert Collier and understood and applied what he suggests things would be so very different. If you understood your prospect it would be so much easier to help them buy. Both you and the prospect could relax and actually enjoy the exchange.
Your prospect simply wants to be understood and heard. The only way they know if you do actually understand them and that you have heard them is if you ask intelligent questions. Intelligent questions are simply questions that demonstrate your understanding and the fact you are actually listening.
The inexperienced sales person walks up to a prospect and asks, “What are you looking for today?” The prospect hesitates to actually tell you because they don’t want you following them around pressuring them to buy.
The experienced sales person walks up to a prospect and asks, “What are you looking to accomplish today?” This immediately snaps the prospect out of the sales person buyer mindset. Now you are the person who is there to provide expert advice and assistance.
They may say they are just looking for ideas for an upcoming event. Now you have the opportunity to actually work with them even though they are “just looking” because you can then ask, “What is your highest priority for that event?” Then keep the conversation going asking questions, listening, and engaging further. Show them options and have them tell you if this is more like they had in mind or less.
Once you allow yourself to think prospect first and product second things are a whole lot easier. You stop leaving money on the table and you stop chasing money away. You will find you make sales faster and the sales you make tend to have larger totals. All because you put the prospect first.