There’s an old adage that says with sales it’s not what you know but who you know. That is true, but not in the way most people think. They key to sales is to understand your customer and your competition before you even think of yourself.
Know thy customer
Too often I’ve seen salespeople launch straight into their pitch when meeting someone. But a good salesperson takes the time to first understand their customer – their needs, wants and desires.
I remember car shopping one day and telling the local dealer that I was interested in a MX5. He immediately started pitching the speeds and feeds of the car. What he missed was what was important to me. My need was transport. My want was a car rather than buses. My desire was a cute convertible that would let me stand out. Telling me I would go from 0 to 60 in however many seconds was of no interest.
Know thy competition
After your customer, the next most important thing to know is your competition. In the example above, I said I was also looking at a cute purple MGF down the road. But he kept comparing his car to the old model MX5, not his actual competition.
The other mistake I often see is people assuming they have no competition. Too often I’ve heard “but our product is unique”. There is ALWAYS competition, even if it doesn’t look the same.
Years ago, Lotteries Commission was a client and I asked the GM who they saw as competition. His answer surprised me. It wasn’t TAB or some other form of gambling. It was the Chupa Chup. Back then, most Lotto tickets were sold at the check-out lane at the supermarkets. They were competing for the last $10 in a customer’s wallet. If the kids were in tow, the Chupa Chup won out. If not, then Lotto would win.
Only once you know your customer and your competition can you successfully pitch your product. Sell the benefits of your product or service, not the features. Tailor your pitch for the customer in front of you and show why you can meet their wants or desires better than the competition can.
And in case you were wondering, I did buy the cute little MGF and not the MX5. For years I had the only purple MGF in NZ and I loved it.