When someone tells me they are in sales I always like to ask them what they sell. The responses vary from the very basic answer like, “I work for XYZ company and I sell widgets” to the detailed explanation that includes there tittle, their role, the customers they call on, and all too often, everything about their product.
The other day I was at a networking event and I met a young sales person and when I asked him, “so what do you sell”? his response, to be quite frank, was overwhelming to say the least. While I was impressed with his enthusiasm, I really didn’t need to hear all about his product capabilities and the various features and benefits. I couldn’t even imagine what it would be like to be one of his prospects. He pulled what famed author Ron Karr likes to call, a PUKE. People who Utter Knowledge about Everything.
When this sales greenhorn finally finished pontificating about everything to do with his product, it’s capabilities, and all the features and benefits, he asked me what I did, and what product or service I was selling.
Feeling a little feisty, I decided to have a little fun, so I said “I sell change”. He looked at me with a puzzled and befuddled look.
“Change” he ask? “What do you mean”? “Like money or something like that”?
Understanding that he was really green and new to sales I decided to share some of my many years of wisdom with him. I explained that selling is not specifically about a product or service. Unless of course you are calling on someone who doesn’t have a business or currently doesn’t utilize the type of product or service that you are selling. What you are really selling is change.
Change is about transforming, converting, substituting or exchanging something for something else. As a sales professional you are changing the way your prospects are currently doing things. You are selling change in the organization, changes in processes, people, technology and methodology. You are selling refinement and adaptation to, and you guessed it, changing conditions.
Change is difficult, and it’s not easy. Organizations don’t necessarily like change as it disrupts the way they do things. It affects their capabilities, their efficiencies, and their agility. Change affects the way they do or conduct business.
In other words, successful selling is essentially about helping a customer achieve change. Its important to understand what the customer wants to change and why they want to change? What is their ultimate goal? What is preventing the change and why haven’t they changed already? Finally, what will take to make the change and how will it affect the organization.
Bottom line customers don’t care about product features. Customers only care about how they can benefit. To gain customers, focus on what the customer wants to do. The key is to focus on the changes and help them achieve their goals.
In his book, Selling Change, Brett Clay states “sales people who don’t just adapt to change, but become the leaders of change, will be those who succeed”.
Will you succeed?