Twenty years ago, when I was a young salesperson just starting out, I was fortunate enough to get sent to quite a bit of sales training. All of the training programs seemed to center around the "Three Big Steps to Selling."
The "Three Big Steps to Selling" are:
In the presentation step, I was encouraged to gush lovingly about the features and benefits of my products and services-you see, I was working for a company with a strong brand that was assumed to be important. I was taught to pitch at prospects convincingly and relentlessly. Closing, I was taught, was something I should always be doing and that meant dealing with resistance and gaining commitment by saying something along the lines of, "Press firmly, you are making three copies."
But as I learned to sell in the real world and started to listen to my prospects, I realized there was a big problem with what I was doing: my process was very much about me. And my prospects were clear in their response: "Me, me, me is dull, dull, dull." Unfortunately, I was caught in a tough spot. I knew that to keep my job, I had to keep my boss happy by moving products and making quota. My boss wanted me to sell what I had to whomever I could convince to buy. "Don't worry about what the prospect needs," he said, "It's not about them."
Well, I had good news and bad news. The good news was that, if I could get some of the people to sign papers, I made my quota. The bad news was that those people had no reason to stay when my competition came knocking on their doors. Even worse, the people who would not sign papers confounded me. I had no idea why some people bought and other just ignored my pleas. I started to feel like I was selling by accident.
After becoming part of the Sandler Training System back in 2000, I learned that what I was doing was wrong. It was pretty simple: to be really successful, I needed to make every sales call about the prospect, not the product.
Salespeople who use the product-pitching approach will get lucky from time to time. They will sell something simply because they bump into someone who just happens to need what they are selling. But this approach is not very dependable, not very repeatable and not very much fun to suffer through.
Selling by accident is a tough way to make a living. Selling with Sandler has made selling easier, more enjoyable, and most importantly, more profitable for me and for my clients.