The Best Salespeople Don't Sell Anything
The great 17th century philosopher John Locke believed that man is born with a clean slate: a tabula rasa. How and what he comes to think is imposed on him by others. What he reads, what he sees, and what he is taught all shape the person and his predictions about the products and services he buys...and those he rejects.
Although Locke never would have thought it at the time, what he wrote has powerful implications for salespeople. Your customers and prospects do not have blank slates -- or as Locke's term has come to mean, blank brains -- but they are always looking for new ideas and concepts to believe in. And therein lies your greatest opportunity: put aside for a moment the products or services in your bag and bring them something, anything they can believe in. Then they will buy from you because unlike the Willy Loman salespeople you are competing with, you sow ideas. You fill in the blanks. When people see a salesman coming they run in the opposite direction. When they identify an advisor, they embrace him. The best salespeople don't sell anything: they gladly educate and inform.
They are an expert and a friend.
An expert because they have knowledge and experience that can actually help the person make the wise choice in life insurance, real estate, software -- anything they are selling. A friend because they use every opportunity to demonstrate genuine concern for their customers, going far beyond how much and how quickly they can earn commissions. Is this you?
On my first day of house hunting with a real estate agent, our last stop was a home she had not visited before. As soon as I laid my eyes on it, I fell in love and a tour of the interior only added to my determination to have that home.
As we left the property, I asked the agent to put in a bid for me that evening. To my surprise, she said "No," advising me that the unusual layout would make the home hard to sell when I was ready to move on. Given that I had advised her I might only stay for two years, this was expert advice from a friend who relinquished an early commission to protect my interests. She has been my real estate advisor ever since. I have never seen her as just a salesperson and I have referred her to more than a dozen friends, all of whom have learned something valuable about buying and selling real estate from her.
As an expert and a friend, keep in mind the following key principles of trust-based selling:
1. Treat all of your clients and customers as family.
2. Make a 100% guarantee to your customers that you will always stand behind them if the product is defective or the service fails to meet their expectations.
3. Remember people buy trust before they buy products or services. Do you deserve to be trusted? Why?
My financial advisor at Smith Barney has consistently forced me to put a will in place. He has found the appropriate attorney, he has attended the meetings, and he has been a bulldog about it, even though he earns nothing for this. More than that, he gives up the time he could be selling to others. He has my trust and my friendship. And I put up a Chinese wall when anyone else even attempts to serve my financial interests.
Always keep in mind it's the provider that counts more than the product. As an expert and a friend, you will always be in a league of your own financially and professionally.