Whose system are you using when you sell?

I had the opportunity to participate in an interesting conversation this afternoon that reinforced some fundamentals of sales that I sometimes forget about.

The essence of the conversation was why would you need a system for selling.  Admittedly it’s not easy, but isn’t it as simple as contacting a potential customer and asking them if they’d like to buy what you’re selling?

The problem with that simplification is that you actually are using a system – you’re using the buyer’s system!!!

You might not have thought about it, but Buyers (even you) have a system for buying and it doesn’t help the seller out one bit.

Buyers have been conditioned over the last fifty plus years to instinctively distrust salespeople – and generally for good reasons.  It’s unfortunate but true that the stereotype of the salesman is someone using any means possible to trick you into buying something you don’t need.

Think snake oil sales.

Think about some time where you went car shopping – especially used cars.

Or how about this famous movie quote:

A-B-C. A-Always, B-Be, C-Closing. Always be closing, always be closing.               – Blake

* One of the few Glengarry Glen Ross quotes I could use here without making this NSFW  😉

Now I’m not saying that all sales people are like this, but there’s a rich enough history that it’s not a surprise that Buyers distrust Sellers.

Which is why Buyers have a system.  Think about when you go into a retail store and the eager sales person says “What can I help you with today?”   Nine times out of ten, you’re going to say…”I’m just looking – thanks”.

Whether you really are looking or not.  Why?  Because you’d like to do your shopping on your terms, using your process.

Later, depending on what it is that you’re buying, you might ask a lot of questions about the product, the price, etc.  It’s highly likely that you will then use this information to comparison shop and as a negotiating point against another seller.  “The guy down the street is selling the same thing for $100 less”.

Finally, as you start to exit the store without buying – perhaps to see what kind of deal you can get online now that you know all about the product, the knowledgeable but desperate salesperson will try to close you on the product “So can I wrap this up for you?”.

As the buyer using your system your most likely response is…”I’ll get back to you, I need to think it over”!  Leaving just enough hope that the salesman will chase the opportunity, thinking there’s still a chance.

The Buyer’s system is a clear cut practiced response to traditional selling techniques refined over time to give the buyer the advantage.

In the corporate world, the Buyer’s system is even more pronounced.  Most large corporate companies have a whole team of people whose job is to ‘manage’ the purchasing of major items.  They put all sorts of hurdles in place to keep the sellers from doing what they want to do – what they’ve traditionally always done.  This Vendor management group will require a proposal process and will play Sellers off of each other to get the best price – often times at the expense of the financial health of the vendor!

So what can you do?  You’ve got to sell your product/service to keep the doors open.

You can start using a non-traditional Sales System. 

Don’t approach the interaction as a sale, approach it as a consultation.

As the seller, you need to find out what the buyer needs and determine if you have a product that fits that need.  If not – then you move on with a minimum of wasted time and effort on your part and the buyer’s part.  It’s okay to push for ‘No’.

If you do have a product that can address the buyer’s need and you have determined that they have money and that they are truly the decision maker, then you can focus on getting them to buy your product.  People like to buy, but they HATE to be sold…so don’t sell them.

There’s obviously a lot more to this and it’s not easy, but it can be much more effective and satisfying than using the traditional ‘used car’  type of sales approach.

A couple of suggestion of additional information on this would be to look into Sandler Sales – locally in Kansas City, the guy to talk to (highly recommended) is Dan Stalp.

You could also check out Spin Selling, a book that’s been around for a while, but is still extremely relevant.

Do you know of any other non-traditional Sales Systems?What system are you using to sell? 

Share some stories here.

Shawn Kinkade  www.aspirekc.com

2 thoughts on “Whose system are you using when you sell?”

  1. elizabeth allen says:

    Interesting post Shawn…

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