This is my 40th year in sales. And in all that time I’ve never come across a potential prospect who wanted to buy what I was selling.
Peter Drucker understood this well when he said “the customer rarely buys what the company thinks it is selling them.”
The customer is interested in resolving issues and producing results. They look at our products and services through that specific lens.
If they think we are the best choice for resolving their issues, they are more likely to do business with us.
In other words we need to…
… put the problem before the product.
Unfortunately, most sales people sell the other way around. They put the product before the problem.
Imagine for a minute walking into a doctor’s surgery. The doctor greets you warmly, hands you a prescription and then sets about explaining why the drugs she is recommending are some of the best drugs known to man.
You would feel somewhat confused. The process would feel like it was back to front.
You would wonder how the doctor could prescribe first and diagnose later.
In the world of medicine, prescription before diagnosis equals malpractice.
The first thing the doctor needs to do is diagnose your situation and find out what is going on with you.
It would feel extremely weird if she start telling you about the merits of her medical practice and the strengths of the various drugs she has available.
Unfortunately, many sales people sell by putting the prescription before the diagnosis. They extol the benefits of their company and their products and services.
They hope to persuade the client that they are the best choice available.
And they believe that if they do a good enough job, the client will give them an opportunity to quote for some work.
Unfortunately, this process ends up commoditising what you do.
And even if you do win business, you will get beaten up on pricing.
The sad reality is that many sales people do not fully understand the issues that their clients are trying to solve, in the context of the products/services they sell.
According to Forrester research, 64% of senior executives believe that the sales person does not know enough about their buyer’s business to bring any value to a meeting.
In fact only 25% of them are prepared to take a second meeting.
Think about this for a minute; three out of every four prospect meetings are a waste of time and money – both for the seller and for the buyer.
If you want to master the art of consultative selling, you must learn to put the problem before the product.
Diagnose first – prescribe second!
FREE Resource: I produced a special CONSULTATIVE SELLING CHEAT SHEET that I give my private clients to use. It will help you to ask the right questions so that you put the problem before the product. You can download it for free using this link.