The world has supposedly only just come out of a recession so our real work is just beginning. The South African economy certainly did not fair as badly as the European and American ones, but we have definitely seen a down-turn in sales, which is why this month I am going to talk about a new way of selling in order to restore; and even supersede, what you had before in order to be able to keep on growing.

The secret key to unlocking the door to increased sales is solution selling as opposed to product selling. Let me draw on my own experience to illustrate my point. I recently went to an electronic goods shop to purchase a video camera I would need for work. Admittedly I was hungry when I entered the shop, which if you are me, is never a good time to be making decisions. But I walked in, and was ignored by at least four sales personnel, which was not a good start and did not make a good impression on me, which did not exactly entice me to want to give the store my money. When I eventually flagged down somebody’s attention, I informed them, decisively, that I was there to purchase a video camera. The salesperson, in their haste to sell me a camera quickly, rushed me over to the far end of the store and proceeded to lecture me on every single camera available. Of course after three sentences I started zoning out and an overwhelming desire to eat came over me, which is why after about six sentences I asked him to stop and release me from his epic deluge of information, at which point I ran from the shop, hopefully never to return. What was he doing? He was product selling – the equivalent to dumping useless information on me. When I already live in an over-info-sized world this was absolutely not the way to make friends with me. My Gen X brain screamed for a solution to MY problem, because remember, I am an individual and not a target market.

What should he have done?

Simple: he should have asked me questions. If he had only asked what I wanted the camera for, how much I wanted to spend, whether or not I needed to be able to take stills, if I needed the camera to talk to my computer, how much memory I needed and actually listened to the answers, he would have made a quick and easy sale. Why, because he would have known exactly what I needed and therefore he would have quickly been able to provide me with a solution to what I needed. I wouldn’t even have felt like he was selling me anything. I would have felt like he was providing me with a solution to a problem I had and it would have felt good. So good in fact that I might have even visited the shop again for other electronic needs, or recommended him and the shop to my friends.

So what is the moral of this story? What are we all desperately trying to do in order to increase sales and grow our businesses? We are trying to make friends. Because friends stay loyal, friends talk about how fabulous we are and friends recommend us to other people because they trust us.

How do we make friends? We listen, we gather information and we tailor make solutions to fit the need that had been created through asking questions, but not just any questions, the right questions, which is a skill to be mastered all on its own.

TomorrowTraining has what we call a 7-step sales process to solution selling. In seven easy steps we will show you how to

  1. establish interest and credibility
  2. create a need
  3. measure the temperature of the sale
  4. provide an appropriate solution for the need that has been created (thereby making the purchaser feel special)
  5. address any concerns or ‘buying signals’ that may arise
  6. brag a little about how many other ‘friends’ (clients) we have and what we’ve done for them
  7. and then closing becomes a formality

We live in such a fast-pace, information-overload world; the last thing anybody wants from a salesperson is a whole bunch of information about a product or service that bears no relation to what they need. We are actually no longer (or should no longer be) in the business of selling. We actually should be in the business of listening, providing solutions and telling stories. In short, we should be in the business of making and keeping friends.

TomorrowToday Global