“…you’re looking too closely. And what have I been telling you all night? The closer you look, the less you see.” -J. Daniel Atlas, Now You See Me

Here’s a review of a sales call where I was a customer and a sales coach. As we review this sales call, look for similarities in your own sales process. Then determine if you can use the 3 sales ideas listed below to step back and expand your view of your client’s sales environment.

Back in 2008, when I was selling Dale Carnegie courses, I decided to change voice carriers.  So, I called information, using my then current service provider Sprint, and asked for directions to the nearest Verizon store.

I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted.  This was back at a time when the LG Chocolate was making waves and the commercials had me enamored with the device. I didn’t just want one of these phones, I needed it!  But this need wasn’t based on the phone’s functionality, its compact size, or because it was the “in thing”.

I wanted one because it looked like that black monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey.

10 minutes after I received directions, I found myself standing in a Verizon store marveling at the wide array of hardware displayed before my eyes.  I was ready to begin.

Sales Idea 1: Open Your Sales Call with Something Unique

The minute I stepped through the door and started ogling the hardware, a young, enthusiastic sales rep approached me and introduced himself.  I’ll call him Bob.

After his introduction, Bob asked me an unusual question.  He asked, “Have you been here before?”  Since I was a Sprint customer, I replied no, at which point he walked over to his terminal and began gathering information from me.

Here is the deal.  When you walk into most retail stores, you’ll be greeted by a sales rep who will ask either, “How may I help you?” or “Do you need any help?”  Both questions will likely get a response like, “No thanks. I don’t need help. I’m just looking.”

But Bob’s question put me in a different mental state.  From there, he could take two routes.  Either he could pull up my information from his system, or he could enter in my information into his system.  But I couldn’t slink away by saying, “Just looking.”

As salespeople, we often get swept up in the customer service mentality, and we try to be helpful by asking the commonly used phrase, “how may I help you.”

Remember, this is a sales call, not a customer support inquiry. Focus on finding solutions that will make you clients profitable. And that means you first need to get your clients’ attention. So, stand out and do something unique and different.

After Bob got all my information loaded into his database, he could’ve asked the standard, “Now.  How can I help you?”  But he didn’t.  Instead, he asked, “What brings you into our store today?”  Again, a different question that required me to think about my response and stay engaged in sales call.

Sales Idea 2: Make The Client, Not Product Features, the Center Of Your Sales Process

In response to Bob’s new question, I gave him the rundown on my situation. I had two phone numbers and I wanted to keep them both.

Then I made the mistake of telling him that I was interested in the LG Chocolate.

That’s when he changed. Bob started talking about the cool phone features and how great it was. He listed all the great things it could do. He even pulled his phone out of his pocket, a Chocolate, and began showing me all the great stuff it could do. It was a great demonstration,One of the 7 forms of evidence. Click the link for a more in depth review of the forms we review in the Dale Carnegie Sales course. but the timing was wrong. It didn’t help his sales presentation or his sales process.

Bob had fallen prey to what most sales reps succumb to during the sales process.  They become enamored with product features and believe the product is going to make the sale.

Know this – salespeople solve problems. You can’t solve a problem without doing some exploratory work. If all you are doing is reciting a list of features hoping to hit a hot button, you’re a walking product brochure. And your company can replace you with an informative web page and a couple of lines of JavaScript for a lot less money. Keep your client the center of your sales process and ask questions to uncover problems.

I was a little disappointed, but wasn’t ready to throw in the towel.

Sales Idea 3: Ask Questions About the Client’s Environment Before Making a Recommendation

So, being a good coach, I asked him a question to get him back on track.  I asked him, “If I do a lot of traveling, how would this phone help me?”

Bob stopped reviewing the features, thought for a moment, and then answered me with a question of his own.  He asked, “What exactly do you do?”

Notice the focus of his process is now off product features, and now on the needs of his client, me.

That’s when I began to explain what I did daily, what I wanted to do, and some of what I was looking for in a phone.

Bob did something amazing at this point.  He didn’t go back to talking about the phone features.  He listened, affirmed that he heard what I was saying, and asked, “What else?”

After reviewing my situation and my applications, Bob suggested several different phones, including the LG Chocolate, that would meet my requirements, not just my desires. His solutions also provided the necessary service for my applications.

When I left the store, I had two phones for my two phone numbers. I also had a comprehensive data service that satisfied my needs for the two territories. In addition, I had a headpiece that allowed me to use my phone hands-free.

Oh, and I also had my LG Chocolate!

If Bob had stayed focused on my initial statement that I wanted the LG Chocolate, I would have walked out with just a fancy phone.  Instead, I came out with a total communications and data package that gave me a lot of mobility.

Recap: 3 Sales Ideas To Use In Your Next Sales Call

Bob started off his call well, but fell down a bit after he had my attention. He got back on track by asking questions and focusing on my situation to offer a relevant solution recommendation.  He was only able to do that when he stopped focusing on the product features, and started focusing on my applications.In Dale Carnegie, we use FBAs, which are Facts about the product, Benefits gained from the facts, and direct Applications for the end user.

Bob provided a real solution because he incorporated these three key sales ideas:

  1. Get your prospect’s attention immediately by asking something different.  Be unique, because uniqueness gets noticed. You must get your prospect’s attention before you can earn their interest.
  2. Focus on your client and see things from their perspective. The only way Bob could do this was by getting out of his head, his perceptions, and desires. He had to see my world through my eyes. Remember, your prospect doesn’t care what you want. So, stop trying to sell them what you want them to have.
  3. Help the prospect clarify the big picture for you. That will give you the opportunity to create an encompassing solution instead of a single sale. If you want to build client trust, get seriously nosy about their environment.

Remember, when somebody buys a drill bit, they do not want the bit.  What they want is a hole.  However, if you can step back and discover the reason they need the hole, you can construct a comprehensive solution. That makes you a value-added consultant. And those are a lot more valuable than a walking brochure hoping to make a sale.

Good Selling!