While waiting out a flight delay at an airport bar, I struck up a conversation with a fellow stranded road warrior. The topic shifted to our work, and he asked me what I do.
I answered by asking him,
“Do you ever get any sales calls at your office? (He’s a manager in the corporate accounting division at a large life insurance company.)
“Yeah, I got one today. I’m in charge of the printing of our company’s annual reports. Apparently I had received an email–which I never read– from a printing rep a couple of months ago who wanted to get me to change to his company. In the meantime he was let go, and replaced by a new person who called me.”
“Was the call any good?”.
“No. It really turned me off. She called and said, `I’m _____ ?with ___. I’ve taken over (the previous rep’s) accounts. So I was wondering if you’re going to use us?’ I told her no, and she ?was pretty antagonistic as she shot back with, `WHY?’ I told her I didn’t see any reason to change, She wasn’t too courteous when she hung up.”
I asked him, “What could she have said so that you would have listened to her?”
“Well, she could have said that her company specializes in printing annual reports, and that they might be able to provide equal or better quality than we’re getting now, at a lower or competitive price. If they had done anything else for insurance companies that would have been a plus.”
“Would that have sold you?”
“Of course not. It only would have gotten her to the point where she could ask questions to find out what I’m looking for and what I need. Then I’d want to find out how and if she could do that.”
I told him he just described exactly what I do. That is, give people a system and ideas to accomplish what he just described.
“Well, I don’t know anything about sales, but it seems some of these people would get the message.”
I told him he actually knows a lot about sales. He knows what it takes to sell him, which is essentially the same as most of your buyers, and my buyers. And as I spoke with him, I thought what a great idea that is:
Interview buyers and ask them how they like to be sold to.
Find people who you know are decision makers for different companies.
Locate buyers in your own company. Find out what they react favorably to. Even talk to customers you’ve built up a personal relationship with, and ask them what they’d listen to.
Don’t sell people the way you want to. Sell the way they want to buy.