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Talk to the HandGreat salespeople establish the need first, then propose the solution. Terrible salespeople just start talking.

Here’s a call I just received today from a “voice-over-the-internet” phone company:

Salesperson: Mr Ferrara, we’re calling to sell you a new phone system, which BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH! Can I stop by on Monday?

Me: Thanks for your call, but we’re completely satisfied with our existing phones and plan.

Salesperson: But Blah, Blah, blah, blah (superfast talking)

Me:I understand, but we only have three lines and we’re totally happy with our current models. We actually use more email and social media than phone calls, anyway.Salesperson:Yes, but what if this, what if that, what if someday, what if you might…..?

Me: Hello? Sorry to interrupt, but please TAKE A BREATH. As I’ve already explained, we don’t have a NEED for your product and service right now. In fact, you didn’t even ATTEMPT to see if we had a need for it. You just rushed into your “bullet points” and objection-busters. So, I’m totally turned off to you right now. I’m going to give you one more chance to just say “have a good day” and hang up please…..

And there you have it: The absolutely worst technique ever, breaking every rule I’ve ever read (or taught). No rapport building, no learning about the customer business, no attempt to identify challenges or needs. Just hello, here’s our stuff, now buy it! Complete inattentiveness to the responses, with an unhealthy dose of speak as quickly as you can, without pause, so the customer can’t respond.

Have you ever heard the phrase, You can’t talk your way into a sale, but you sure can listen your way into one? Obviously somebody skipped that in this person’s training. It’s a recurring theme these days, especially with the telemarketing revivalists who preach the churn and burn style. Get ’em on the phone, tell them about your stuff, get a sale, or hang up and move on.

Never mind if they then tell their friends (say, in a blog post?) that their experience with your brand sucks. Just keep dialing for dollars.

If you believe selling is “hawking your stuff to suckers who will pay you” then by all means, try this technique. If, on the other hand, you believe selling is the “noble art of helping others fulfill their needs and achieve their goals” with your products and services, then listen up:

The customer doesn’t care what you know, what your product does, or how little it costs until they know you understand their needs. 

Only then can you suggest, carefully, products and services that will meet their needs. And as the customer gives feedback, you will listen, respond, demonstrate and confirm they’re working towards a mutually beneficial outcome.

That’s sales.

Everything else is just pissing people off.