Stu Schlackman

The Relationship Selling Expert - Building High-Performance Teams

What Do You Sell?






I was trying to sell our newest computer with twice the speed and capacity at half the price to a new customer in the hi-tech center. The client was intrigued and asked us for a detailed proposal including the specifics of the configuration. I came back to the office excited to let my manager know as I was certain we would have add a new customer to our portfolio.

My manager then asked, “Who is the competition”? IBM I proudly touted being sure we would defeat them. So I was shocked when I my manager offered a sarcastic, “good luck”. Good luck? IBM could not even come close to our price. My manager continued, “The customer won’t buy on price.” Maybe you won’t be surprised that two days later I learned that they chose IBM.

Bryan Flanagan, a good friend and longtime motivational speaker of the Ziglar Corporation wrote the book, So, You’re New to Sales.

Bryan asks sales people to list 3 things they sell. The typical responses he gets are:

  • Myself
  • My company
  • Our products/services

Bryan then asks the participants to list 3 things you’re prospects want. When he compares the 2 lists they never match.

Do customers really want what you sell? Do they want you, your company or your products and services? Did the prospect I was selling really want twice the power at half the price? Was he buying on low price? No, he was buying high value.

I was a rookie sales person in Birmingham. Alabama and all I thought the customer wanted was a low price. He bought a much more expensive computer system from IBM because IBM was selling value. Big difference. Big lesson.

Bryan says that the responses people give to his question are typically things in their “comfort zone”. But your customers really want what’s in their “buying zone”. Sales professionals need to understand what their customers are buying in order to provide the true value and benefits from their perspective. Only then can a meaningful and profitable sales conversation happen.

For example, Flanagan shares this: if you are selling insurance and your prospect wants peace of mind, you will miss the sale. The list of what you sell and the list of what your prospect wants must match. In this case, you must understand and interpret for them how their peace of mind is improved by purchasing your insurance.

Value is only seen in the eyes of the prospect. What you perceive as value might be insignificant to them. What are their true needs? We tend to over-explain the features and under-explain the value and benefits.

According to So, You’re New to Sales, you must focus on value if you want to be successful. Three strong selling words are: value, advantages, and benefits. If you catch yourself using one of those three words you are in “selling mode.” If you aren’t using one of those three words, you are in “telling mode.” So as Bryan states- to succeed in sales, you must be in a “selling mode.”

The key principle he states is this:

  • Features- tell
  • Value- sell

When you communicate value, your prospect sees why they should buy your product or service. If all you convey is a low price, then that’s all they see, which translates into no value.

I highly recommend Bryan’s book if you are looking to begin a career in sales or just know that revisiting the basics can always help you. Nothing in my opinion is more exciting. Bryan Flanagan is also the author of Now Go Sell Somebody Something.

Good selling!
Stu

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