Recently, I’ve been looking back through some of my old articles and posting #throwbackthursday posts on my LinkedIn and Facebook pages. ( As a side note, if you’d like to link with me, here’s my profile.) It’s interesting – I’ve written over 500 articles, and sometimes I’ve found some really strong material that I’d forgotten about.
One example is this sentence: Sales is a sport that’s played inside the customer’s head. It’s one of the truisms of sales, now and forever. Sometimes, we think that sales is like a pro/con comparison on a legal pad, and if we end up with more ‘pro’ entries than ‘con’ entries, we win. And then we’re surprised when it doesn’t work that way, and we lose the sale.
The problem is that we’re playing on the wrong field. If you’re playing football and you’re on a baseball field, you’re probably not going to do very well. Same with selling. Unless you know the rules of the field, where and how the goals are located, and what’s in and out of bounds, you’re probably not going to win the game.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that the rules of the field don’t have to be a mystery. You can discover them – all you have to do is have the patience and willingness to ask.
In the sales process, in fact, the customer has the entire control. The customer’s head is the playing field, and the customer is judge and jury. This being the case, shouldn’t you understand the rules first?
A good questioning process incorporates the questions that will expose the rules of the game. Here are a few to get you started:
How will you define a successful purchase?
What’s your criteria for selecting a vendor?
Assuming this purchase is successful, who benefits the most? Who gets rewarded? How will they be rewarded?
Why don’t salespeople ask these questions? Because they ASSume that they know the answers – and we all know how the word “assume” breaks down. It’s not enough, in fact, to just ask these questions in an initial sales process. Things change, and the framework for a sale can change from sales process to sales process – make sure to refresh your knowledge often.
If you always remember what the playing field is when you start a sale, you’re going to be much farther toward the sale than salespeople who don’t.