Help Buyers Buy

Suppose you are out looking to purchase a new digital camera. You know you want one, you have saved up the money to buy and you make the trek to your local electronics store. While looking at the cameras a sales associate approaches and asks if you need help with anything. What is the default response to this question? “No thanks, I’m just looking.” Why do we answer this way? Because we all know people like to buy, they do not like to be sold.

Why do people like to buy? Many times people associate buying with self improvement. They feel they are improving their lives and they want to be in control of that process. So how can we help them open their minds to buying?

In a recent blog, Dave Brock points out a very good problem that some buyers have.

I’ll say it again – people like to buy. People need to buy to achieve their goals. A problem is that people don’t necessarily know how to buy! Solving this problem for customers is the real opportunity for sales professionals, it’s the opportunity for sales to add value to the customer’s buying process.”

Mr. Brock is very insightful. As sales people we need to be brilliant at helping our prospects discover why they need to do business with us. This is where the Needs Audit Routine in the Griffin Hill Sales Process becomes so valuable. During the Needs Audit Routine you want to foster a discovery experience for your prospects—you want to stimulate an “epiphany of value.” This is your opportunity to be a wise guide and help decision makers come to the conclusions that you have already reached. The discoveries have to be their own, but it is the salesperson’s responsibility to lead them there.

Asking the right questions will lead prospects to discovery. The Needs Audit routine consists of questions that drill down and stimulate our prospects’ thought process. These questions also help create a gap between their status quo and their vision. This is critical because where there is gap there is opportunity. Most importantly, these questions will break down the barriers between prospect and sales person, opening up the lines of communication and allowing the prospect to discover on their own why they want to buy from you.

Art + Technology = Sales Success

There is a widespread belief that sales is an art and that sales artists are naturally born. Because of this, the world of sales has largely been the exclusive domain of so-called artists. And the prevailing belief has been that the art of selling could not be taught nor could the art itself be measured. This belief is exemplified by one business professor who, when asked what text he uses to teach his course on sales replied, “I don’t use a textbook because sales is an art

So is there enough room in sales for both art and technology?

In my research and experience I would say the combination of art and technology can bring great success.

Art doesn’t flow out of nothingness. It relies on fundamental principles that can be taught and learned. There is actually quite a technology behind art and only those ignorant of the subject are foolish enough to suggest otherwise.

The connection between art and technology is better understood in the context of a university environment. Most university campuses have a fine arts department where performance arts like dance and music as well as graphic arts are taught. Musicians learn common basics of rhythm, scales, chords, and chord progressions. The more rules a musician comprehends, the greater her ability to create original music. By learning the basic rules of color, dimension, and presentation, young artists develops their skill more rapidly.

In a recent blog, Jonathan Farrington noted that even when your skills take you to great heights, there is still room for improvement.

“In skills development there are many similarities to sport; i.e. does an athletic champion stop training as soon as they win their first medal? In music does a concert pianist stop rehearsing as soon as they have given their first recital? In art, does the artist stop improving after they have enjoyed the first exhibition of their work?”

“The answer in all cases is obvious and we should apply the same common sense principals to the ongoing development of our sales teams.”

Debunking the natural born artist theory does not mean that the classical sales attributes lack value in sales people. It does point out that managers and sales leaders cannot rely on the “sales gene.” Gifted and talented sales people still need training, coaching, and accountability for performance measures. An additional lesson is that sales people from all backgrounds and experiences with a wide variety of skills can be successful if they possess the will to learn and use a system based on true principles, proven models, and natural laws.

Like art, the rules of selling have to leave room for artistic expression. They should be principle based and thoroughly demonstrable. The sales artist should be able to apply the true models to their own world and synthesize an application that fits their own style, personality, and environment. Under these conditions an artistic technology has wide application.