Earlier in sales, the elevator pitch was all the rage. The idea was to memorize a compelling statement about what your company does that was no longer than the length of an elevator ride. Management thought that if you told enough potential customers what the company did, then eventually some of them might have a need for your product, service, or solution.
Incredible as it may sound, the elevator pitch is still alive and well, but now marketing is calling it a positioning statement. With all due respect to marketing, this is not an effective way to make someone feel like you are interested in their input in a conversation. If you don’t like it when you are on the receiving end of an elevator pitch, then why would you think anyone else would like them?
Ever Had One of These Sales Calls?
Remember calling on customers who would invite you in to speak to their buying team, only to be faced with a conference table lined with people you’d never met, all expecting you to give a product pitch. This could be a challenging and uncomfortable place to be if you have not attended a sales call/sales opportunity training. One of the many valuable lessons from those trainings is to learn in advance who would attend the meeting, then prepare to ask questions relevant to the stage of the selling cycle and the people present. Once you demonstrate sincere interest in understanding their business situation, they become more responsive and open up.
Still, there would be occasions when one or two people never said much during a meeting. You start asking yourself the unknowns that are important to know: Did the quiet ones see it the same way? Did they share the same concept of a solution as the others? What was their role in the buying decision? What did they want out of the project, both personally and professionally?
You would ask the best open-ended questions you could think of, and either they would give you one-word answers or someone else would answer for them. By the close of the meeting, You typically didn’t know what they were thinking or even what role they played in the decision.
Personal “wins” are especially hard to ferret out. Experienced salespeople know that buying decisions are made by human beings. Even if they share the group’s idea of a “win” for the project, each has their own personal win. Examples of this may include fewer headaches in their specific role, personal advancement in the organization, or even a bullet point on their resume. Customers have business and personal priorities when considering acquisition of your product, service, or solution. They want it to do something to help them.
We like it when people approach us with thoughtful questions, great listening skills, and the desire to help us. This is 180 degrees opposite of the “positioning statement” approach discussed above. These are called Win Results. As a sales professional, your job is to figure out what they are. They can range from simple to complex based on the situation at hand and on each customer’s specific needs according to their position in the decision-making process.
Credits to Miller Heiman
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