Prescription without diagnosis is malpractice - it's a phrase I heard a lot growing up since my father was a proud pharmacist of 52 years.
I heard it again this week directed toward what many of us have been guilty of at one time or another in selling. As soon as we have a buyer in front of us, or on the phone, we are quick to share with them all the great things we can do to help them.
The only problem is that we don't really even know yet what it is that they want or need. We have our solutions and we think it is obvious that since we are so great, they must need what we offer.
Have you ever caught yourself doing that? It is particularly rampant after product training or annual sales off-sites. We leave excited and full of information ready to pounce on the next person who crosses our path.
Instead of doing a data-dump on potential buyers, hold back and wait to offer ideas or solutions. Use a real, true curiosity to better understand what your buyer's world is like.
Do you know their aspirations? What would they like to have happen for them, both personally and professionally?
What is slowing them down, or afflicting them?
Can you have a conversation as though you had met up on the sideline of your son or daughter's or niece's or nephew's soccer game? You're not selling, you are learning - about the quirks, differences, and commonalities of their viewpoint to yours.
If you sound scripted, it will seem as if you are reading a list of questions and NO ONE wants to be interrogated.
Instead think of yourself as a wise pharmacist. My dad never blindly filled prescriptions - he always talked to his customer to make sure the doctor had given the right drug with the correct dosage. More times than you'd think, he caught errors. This was back in the day before computers told doctors and pharmacists what to prescribe. It was before machines could spit out the correct number of pills into a bottle.
It seems crazy that having a curious conversation with prospective buyers would be so hard to teach - but that's because it is human nature to get focused on something and want everyone to use that thing or do that thing. Buy a red car, and suddenly you see red cars everywhere. Learn to sell a new technology and suddenly everyone is a prospect.
Craft a series of questions that you can use to better understand your buyer and their world. If you sell to an industry or niche, this will be easier than if you sell broadly or geographically - but it still can be done.
Click here to get your FREE DOWNLOAD of a list of some general powerful questions. If you'd like more on this to help yourself as a seller or your sales team to be more effective, send us a message and we'll talk.
What questions can you craft right now that will help you learn more about your buyer?
What questions should you answer about your buyer's industry or market sector?
What questions should you have on hand to learn about the responsibilities at your buyer's company?
Lori Richardson is recognized as one of the "Top 25 Sales Influencers for 2013" and one of "20 Women to Watch in Sales Lead Management for 2013". Lori speaks, writes, trains, and consults with inside and outbound sellers in technology and services companies. Subscribe to the award-winning blog and the “Sales Ideas In A Minute" newsletter for sales strategies, tactics, and tips in selling. Increase Opportunities. Expand Your Pipeline. Close More Deals.