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Save it for another day

Don’t waste ammo …

An important skill for Sales Professionals is to be able to assess what the customer wants and offer just that … nothing more, nothing less!!

In the Indian tale Mahabharath we read about heroes and warriors who sit in penance to acquire powerful weapons – Lord Indra (the ruler of Heaven) would reward his devotee an Indrastra (Astra means weapon) and Brahma (The Creator according to Hinduism) would give his devotee a Brahmastra if buttered –up suitably!

These are powerful weapons and can vaporise the rival, but not if this guy has acquired the suitable counter-measure (which too is possible through penance … how convenient!!). So the trick is to be aware of the weapon to be used against a particular rival in the battlefield … you just need a single arrow to finish your opponent if you know WHICH ONE!!

The same is true in sales.

In the early days of mobile telephony in India the Sales Representative for the company I represented, like most of their counterparts, were over eager to reach this incredible product to the stunned market. The only deterrents were the price of acquisition and usage charges.

So the Sales Reps built value much like the street hawkers – “Good Quality Plastic Comb, long lasting, excellent plastic handle, stylish looks, can be used by ladies and gents, six colour options, only Rs. 10/-“. This guy on the street is selling a low cost product and has to shout out everything upfront to attract the customer because nobody is going to stop and give him time to make a pitch.

My Sales Reps, in their enthusiasm, would rattle off feature after feature the moment they meet the customer and since we were selling the concept of mobility he would go on and on about the possibility of using the phone at home, at the office and in other cities.

After patiently listening to the rant from one representative for five minutes one customer replied in a measured tone –  “I have a shop just 1o minute drive away from my house and at my age I hardly move out of my office. I have assistants who do my running around and I have not travelled outside this city in the last 7 years. I don’t think there is any emergency that can’t wait for the 10 minutes I take to reach home from office or vice versa and I had landline phones at both places.”

The Rep was stunned by the response and didn’t know what to say next. He thanked the man and left, deeply dejected – he thought it was a killer pitch that he had made.

I wish like to believe that we sell solutions, not boxes. Hence it is important for us to understand what the customer concerns are. Those concerns in turn are amplified into the need for a better solution – better than the one he currently has.

So if my Sales Rep had curbed his enthusiasm and had spent more time in understanding the customer he probably would have unearthed one or more need that could have been fulfilled with the solution he was offering.

And he would have come away with many of his valuable weapons still in the quiver … waiting to find the ideal target!

  1. January 26, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    But what if it is a technology or a solution? …………… where both the guys do not have hundred percent knowledge?

    • JayadevM
      January 26, 2012 at 7:45 pm

      Mahesh, good question!

      We are convinced that even for conventional products, which come out of a box, there is a need to understand the customer’s need before providing the solution; hence the amount of probing needed in the case of customised solutions is much higher. Sometimes new technology may be needed, multiple vendors may need to be roped in and a unique solution may have to be produced to fulfill the requirement – for this its not enough that the solution provider is a good listener, he needs to be a good visualizer and highly creative. He needs to have in-depth knowledge and understanding of the customer’s business and be able to foresee how it would evolve and then create a unique solution.

      But how often does this happen or what percentage of sales professional encounter such situations? I am sure we can have a private chat to solve your unique problem.

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