“Most people in business or in sales recognize that it’s the relationships they have with their customers that are the most valuable,” says Blount. Yet, for the past 30 years, as computers and the Internet have changed business practices, focus has changed from building relationships to streamlining processes. And since these tools are available to everyone, it’s created a somewhat homogeneous marketplace where the challenge for any business is to stand out and get noticed.
“What is the competitive differentiator if everybody from the buyer’s standpoint looks the same? It’s the relationship; it’s what the salesperson and the businessperson brings to the table that sets them apart from their competition. We know that, but the question is why do people buy you, and how can we use that knowledge to get them to want what you’ve got?”
The answers often begin with a radical change in mindset. “Salespeople are still talking at their customers and pitching to them instead of listening to them and solving their problems. If you strip any business down to it’s core, it all comes down to one person solving another person’s problem.
“Our problem is that we’re so busy that we don’t take the time to sit down and actually understand what people’s problems are. And what’s worse is that if we do ask, our customers might tell us what they think their problems are, but we never get to the real issues. If you can learn how to get people to tell you what their real problems are, and then solve those problems, they tend to throw money at you.”
Yet, explains Blount, there are techniques that salespeople can use that are honest and non-manipulative to connect with buyers, earn their trust, and uncover their real needs. In his book, People Buy You, he offers five ‘Levers’ salespeople can use to accomplish this:
Lever #1: Be Likable
“People need to like you before they will open up to you and enter into a conversation. People buy you. Salespeople have been taught that ‘You’ve got to sell yourself first.’ That’s not what we’re saying; that doesn’t work. What we’re saying is that people will buy because of you, not because of your product or service. They will buy from you because they like you, they trust you and they feel that you can solve their problems.
If you look back on all the purchases you’ve made from other salespeople and really think about it, most of the time your decision will have been based on how that salesperson made you feel; the emotional side of the sale.
We’ve been taught that people buy from people they like. I believe that people buy from people that they believe like them. When you’re listening to someone when their talking, your treating them like a friend and making them feel important, they believe that you like them and they open up.”
Lever #2: Connect
“We tell people to forget about the whole concept of rapport, because rapport is on the surface manipulative. Connecting with people is an honest, authentic way to get people to talk to you. Mostly, it’s just learning how to listen to them. Once you connect with people and get them talking, it becomes a conversation. The more people feel connected to you, the more they will reveal what’s ‘behind the curtain.’
“People don’t care about what you’re pitching. 95% of the time [during your presentation,] people are thinking about themselves and not about your product. At the same time, most salespeople are thinking about themselves. That’s why they pitch so much! It takes a lot of self discipline to shut off that desire to tell people about what you do and to listen to what they want.”
Lever #3: Problem Solving
“Problem solving is one of the most powerful concepts in sales. It has to do with how to ask questions; how to have an objective for your meeting and still be able to be empathetic and stand in your client’s shoes; what’s the process for asking those questions and getting people to tell you what their real issues are.
“When you really learn how to focus on problem solving, you become unstoppable. The people who solve problems own the business world.”
Lever #4: Build Trust
“You can’t do business without trust. No matter what business relationship you enter into, the person on the other end is always looking at you and making judgements as to whether they feel they can trust you or not.” Listening, connecting, and understanding and solving people’s problems builds trust.
Lever #5: Create a Positive Emotional Experience
“This is the most critical thing we do, because it anchors people to you so that they feel loyalty to you and at the end of the day, they want to do business with you and they won’t leave you.
“Buying a new home is an emotional sale to begin with. People don’t walk into a model home and think about buying a home based on logic. They buy on emotions first and then justify their decision with logic down the road. When they’re touring a model home they’re thinking about how it feels to them. And what they’re looking for in that process is a friend who will help them make the right choices about the home. The salespeople that are listening and connecting and making their customers feel like they really care are the ones that are closing the most business.
“So, it’s not about the home or the neighborhood, it’s about what the buyer says is most important to them and then showing the buyer how your product matches up to their ideal from a value standpoint. And they’re not going to tell you those things if your not listening and connecting with them.
“And, if somebody really likes you and has had an great emotional experience buying from you, they are going to go out and tell everybody they know to go see you to buy their next house.”
If referrals are the key to a successful sales career, then building relationships that lead to sales is more important then ever. Blount may not have invented relationship selling, but his 5 Levers certainly puts it an a context that fits today’s market.
Contact Jeb Blount at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website, www.SalesGravy.com.
Developing a Killer Website
Webinar featuring Brian Flook
Your website is your single most important marketing tool. Studies show 87% or more of your buyers will visit your website before they ever see or talk to you in person. Learn the simple secrets of creating a website that gets found by your buyers, generates excitement â€¦ and converts website visitors to onsite buyers!
Wednesday, August 11Â 2:00pm EDT (Presentation will be recorded for on-demand viewing.)
Developing a Killer Website
Registration:Â $37Â Â Â Register here.
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