The best way to approach each aspect of selling is to remember how much you don’t know. Appreciating what you don’t know puts you in a discovery mindset and keeps you from living in sales mode. Yes, you know your product or service. You hopefully know its value as well as what an ideal client looks like. That’s it. What you don’t know is everything else.
YOU DON’T KNOW:
√ How someone you meet at a networking event fits in your world, or if they even do
√ What a prospect really needs
√ How a prospect operates
√ Whether a prospect can afford your offering
√ What a prospect looks for in a provider
√ How a prospect makes decisions, or deals with problems, or defines success
√ So much more
Your job as a “salesperson” is to learn not to tell. Too many salespeople spend all of their time trying to convince people to buy. When they network they are looking for clients. When they are prospecting they believe every prospect should become a client. When they are in the sales meeting they talk more than they listen. None of these behaviors help the salesperson discover meaningful connections and client relationships. Instead of telling, let’s explore what you should do in each phase of the process.
When you are networking, be open-minded to learning about a couple of people or about someone you previously met. What’s their story? Are they someone you’d like to continue to get to know? Are they all sales and no substance? You know the type. Their only goal is to gain a client. They aren’t great to be around, are they? If you were focused on selling like they are, no one would want to be around you either. Focus on learning, not selling. You’ll enjoy yourself and gain resources, business friends, and referral sources.
When you are prospecting let go of the idea that you know what your prospects need. Truth is, you don’t. Your job isn’t to convince them you have the solution to their pain. It is to learn as much as you can about them so that when you reach out to schedule a meeting, you have something meaningful to say. And it won’t be that you have a solution. It will be something you learned about them that was interesting; something you’d like to learn more about. As you research, you’ll identify prospects that don’t fit your client model. These are people or companies you shouldn’t contact. They go in a “down the road” folder. Down the road, they might reach out to you, or they might become someone you should contact.
And, how about when you are in a meeting with your prospect? Your job is not to tell them all about how great your offering is. Your job is to ask a lot of questions and truly listen to the answers. You are connecting dots if you can. The more you learn, the more you can identify whether there’s a fit. If you determine there is a fit, you now have something to say. Now you can tell them that based on what you heard you believe you have a solution.
When you lead with “I don’t know,” you are open to gathering all of the information you need to build relationships, discover potential prospects, and have meaningful conversations that lead to sales. So, be open to what you don’t know instead of focusing on what you do know, or think you know.
Diane Helbig is a business advisor and trainer. She is the author of Succeed Without Selling and the host of the Accelerate Your Business
Growth podcast. Learn more at www.helbigenterprises.com.