Sales Philosophy #5 – Information is power.
Knowing something about your customer is just as important as knowing everything about your product.
The greatest weapon you can have is superior information.
On our holiday in Italy, I wanted to buy a leather briefcase. I had heard you could bargain at the markets. So, I used my son to do a little reconnaissance; he determined that the asking price was 300,000 lire (about 135 pounds – $200). I divided 200,000 lire (90 pounds) into four different pockets. I started negotiating pocket by pocket.
He shook his head back and forth each time. Three no’s.
I emptied my fourth and final pocket. As I stood there with empty pockets waving the lire, I told the seller it was all I had left. If I didn’t catch the taxi that was waiting and get back to the pier, my ship would sail without me.
“We’re just here for two hours. Just long enough to do a little shopping and get back to the boat. You’ll never see me again. I’ll get in the taxi and be gone. And you won’t have the sale. There may not be another buyer for ages.”
A fourth shake of his head, “No.”
I started walking toward the taxi.
If he lets me get into the taxi, then I know absolutely for sure he will not change his price to 90 pounds, but with each step toward the taxi I have a chance that he will holler and say, “Mister, I will give take your offer.”
I go to the taxi. I open the door. He never called me back.
I had the taxi drive around the block and then walked back to his stand and said, “Okay, you win. I want the briefcase; here’s the 300,000 lire.”
He nodded solemnly, took the money, and counted it very slowly. The he said, “Maybe you want me to deliver it to your hotel?”
“Hotel? But I’m on the ship….”
He held up his hand to stop me and shook his head no for the last time. “I waited on the table next to you at the hotel last night. My brother, Maurizio, has been your waiter all week. He says you take real good care of him, signor. We check out all the tourists. That’s our business, you know. Thank you. I’m sure you’ll enjoy the briefcase.”
Moral to the story: It’s one thing to be a moderately successful amateur bargain hunter, but when your livelihood depends on knowing more than the other guy, then don’t play amateur games. You make it your business to know.
Mackay 66. Windsor 44. Computer 9.
Harvey Mackay is the author of the best-selling book Swim With the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive. One of his major philosophies (and an important factor in the success of his business dealings) is knowing a lot about each person you are selling. The Mackay 66 is a list of 66 questions/topics that will give you tremendous power as you build and maintain your relationship with your key customers. Begin to develop this information on your Top 20 accounts. Then use that information to build your relationship and generate more sales.
I believe strongly in the importance of information about the company you are selling. I have developed a list of 44 questions that, once answered, will enable you to become a marketing consultant for your clients.
Four of the 44 deserve special attention:
41. What do you want from ________?
42. And what would having ____________ (the answer to question 41) do for you?
The answers to these questions will provide some of the most important information you can gather. You will learn why what you are selling is important to the company and the specific benefits to the buyer or his/her company. With this information, you can emphasize the appropriate features while selling these benefits!
43. What will our company have to do to justify that we can provide an important service to you?
This is the ultimate bottom line question in my mind. Okay, what do we have to do? What do we have to prove? I know if you knew all that I know about my great magazine, you would advertise; what have I failed to make clear; what do you question; what do I have to prove, or what do we have to do?
How often we dance around and make call after call, and never ask such questions…
44. How can we help you?
What a powerful question! Most buyers have salespeople trying to sell them something. What a refreshing approach to simply ask, “How can we help you?” It’s a great opening question with a new prospect, and it’s a question you can and should use with customers you’ve had forever. It’s a great comeback to “No” or to many objections. Besides, it’s what we want to be – consultative salespeople who act as marketing consultants to our customers. When we help our customers, we get what we really want.
Your sales contact management computer system should contain a specific place for the brief answers to 9 questions – data drawn from the “Windsor 44” and your observations. Get the answers to these questions, and summarize the data in the computer.
Asking the right questions and gathering worthwhile information will enable you to close more and more sales. It will also establish you as a professional and will set you apart from the average salesperson. You can have the power, if you focus on what’s important and remain hungry for information.