In the UK we hate salespeople, but lawyers have always had our unconditional respect. Bizarrely,in the US it’s the other way round: there is a huge stigma to being a lawyer while sales is a profession of choice. The ambulance chasers of the US ruined it for the lawyers while the loudmouthed, fast-talking door-to-door American types ruin it for salespeople here. Selling is a tarnished word in need of a revival. Talking with a supplier’s CEO recently, I noticed he didn’t understand its meaning, believing that ‘selling’ implies a short-term transactional thing.
Wrong – you can sell a vision!
The ability to sell is the fundamental skill of an account manager, so let’s be clear on what it is. Selling is presenting something you have to another party (the buyer) in a way that focuses on the benefits and makes them want it. The key words, sometimes forgotten, are ‘focuses on the benefits’. It seems that many don’t know the difference between a product feature and a buyer benefit, while those who do often ignore it. So why are they getting it wrong? So often we hear just about features: ‘The new lid is resealable.’ The buyer is thinking ‘so what?Who cares? No Benefit to me!’ ‘So the food will stay fresher longer,’ you say, believing you’ve cracked the code, The buyer now thinks, ‘that’s bad news, they won’t come back to buy again for longer!’ You see, a benefit to the consumer is just another feature to a buyer,leaving them guessing as to the implication. You should make this clear: ‘So consumers will pay more and you make more money.’ There – finally!
Apart from the obvious prerequisite of cash profit, other buyer benefits include reducing complexity, saving costs, reducing stock holding and saving time. At least some of these must come through in your initiatives and your sell. So it’s back to basics; change your focus from ‘I want this because’ to ‘the buyer wants this because’. Obviously, you should understand what the priorities and needs of your customer are before you can match up the benefits of your idea properly. You’ll get more success with shorter meetings as you pinpoint the relevant benefits rather than bashing the irrelevant features. Be proud, sell well and prosper.