Archive - September 2017

The Old Elevator Speech is just that; Old

“I’m going to try my best to do a great ‘elevator speech/benefits statement’ so the customers know exactly what we do”. We put so much time and energy into coming up with this big introduction/benefit statement and honestly, it is not as important as any of the other things that we do.


This thought is on the mind of most sales people. They feel that they have to have some great, two-sentence explanation of what they do, and that will help sell it. Now, it is important to summarize what you do, but that is not what sells. Let me illustrate this point. Think about the last time you read a book, and then saw the movie. Which is typically better? Well, almost every one I talk to says the book is better. Why is that? Because when you read a book, you have the ability to create what the scene looks like, what the characters look like, even the voices and sounds therefore the story becomes yours. When you put something in your own brain, you are able to create what it looks like, and what it sounds like, and what it feels like to you. You attach more directly to the story because it becomes yours. Your interpretation of the events as opposed to some producer, or director’s interpretation of what the story should be. This is the same reason why telling someone what you do and the “features and benefits” of your product or service is much less powerful then asking great questions and getting them to see how it can help through their own eyes.


When you tell someone why they should work with you, what the benefits are, what the advantages are, those are your interpretations of the benefits or the advantages that you offer. When you ask really good questions to get people to think about what is important to them, it is their idea. If that they had the ability to use your product or service and what difference would it make to their organization it allow them to begin to interpret their own book.


— If they had success in a particular area, how we can change things, it is a lot of those kinds of thought provoking questions that allows a prospect to see the advantage on their own, on what your product is supposed to bring. So, ask me questions is really much more important than coming up with an important benefit statement.


There are a couple different types of questions. The first question that I talk about is what I call big picture questions. Big picture questions are thought provoking questions that are questions about the person that is talking about the overall situation. For example, talk about the goals that you set for your organization, and where you are along the line of those goals. Right now it is plug in the date and if it was project to ourselves a year forward, if it was one year from today and you were to look back


So you have the ability to ask big-picture questions and get people to think. So if you say, if a year from now you were to look back and say, that was a really successful year, what would have had to happen over those 12 months to make you say that? What are the things that you fear the most over the next 12 months and what are you doing to avoid them? What are the things that are in your way in reaching your goal, and how are you planning on working around those things? What does success look like to you? There are so many what I call big-picture questions, and when you ask questions like this, it allows that person not only to think, but to put things in their own perspective. And when they give you the answer, the answer is coming from their own thoughts and their own processes.


The second type of question is what I call advantage questions. Advantage questions come directly from what you believe the advantages are that you portray. For example, if you sell advertising in a very high-end magazine, you might ask the question: talk to me about how you get in front of high-income, or high-net worth, individuals now. And if you had the ability to get in front of more of them, what would you say? So it forces them to think about not only being in front of two potential clients that they’re trying to get in front of it, but it has them think about what the message would be. It begins to develop where you’re going to go with your recommendations or proposals in the end. So rather than you saying, here’s what you can do, the difference is coming up with question to get them to self-realize it. Remember when you read a book, it’s the author’s interpretation of those words, but you have the ability to put what it looks like and feels like. When you go to the movies, it is purely the director and the producer’s interpretation. It’s much more effective when it’s yours.

Are You a Commodity?

Are You a Commodity?


Do your prospects perceive you as a commodity, even if you don’t? Do they see you as the person they’ll consider working with if you can give them a discount?

Guess what? You’re the 20 percent guy (or girl).

How do you know? They say things to you like: “Things are tough and I’d like to give you a shot, but you have to beat this price.” And you fall for it. So here’s the question: If you are not always the cheapest and you have business, how is that possible? If everyone buys because it’s all the same and they’ll only switch with a discount, how does anyone have any business?

I recently worked with an insurance agency that gets it. Their top salesman was giving examples of how he works with — or, in some cases, refuses to work with — his prospects. Right from the beginning, he is clear that he may not be able to save them money and may even cost more then they are paying now, but he has the ability to bring a true consultative approach to the conversation. And if they respect and are open to that, he can do a true diagnosis of the situation.

Some of the prospects he talks to are quickly brushing him off. They tell him that “if he can’t save them money, then forget it”. He is so thankful when that happens. Why? Because time is the only true asset we have in sales, and to save some by spending more time with qualified prospects is invaluable.

What does qualified mean? It doesn’t mean, for example, that you only call on organizations with a minimum of 200 employees. Since they fit that criterion, they’re qualified. No, it’s much more than that. Consider:

  • Do they have needs that aren’t being met by there existing representative?
  • Are they willing to share these with you and openly discuss their situation: the good, the bad and the ugly?
  • Will they open their “files” to you so you can do a true analysis and not hold back?
  • What will they do if you are not going to be the least expensive, but solve some of the issues you uncover and give them a true assessment?

These are a few of the things that need to be dealt with when you prequalify a prospect. What are we really talking about here? Plain and simple, we are talking about trust. Yes, trust. This is the deciding factor in any relationship. Without trust, you have game playing, bidding wars and all-around time wasters.

How is trust gained? Certainly not by telling them you are trustworthy. Why not? Because people trust you based on your actions, not what you say. It’s the way you work with them, the questions you ask them and truly listening to what they say.

Don’t jump to a proposal, and don’t promise them anything – especially not too early – and always pull back when questions like “Can you save us money?” and “Can you give us better coverage’s or better service?” come up. Yes, pull back. The answer to these questions should be something like: “I certainly hope so, and that’s our goal. But it’s too early in the process to really tell you any of that with confidence”

Scary? Yep. I get it, but start telling the truth – even if it hurts. Have the tough conversations with the tough questions. That’s where true respect and trust come from. You sure don’t want to be the 20 percent guy, do you?


Make sure ALL of the members of your sales team are commodities by getting your sales leader in tiptop shape!

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