Years ago I worked in newspaper ad sales. As the rookie, I was assigned automotive ads, which everyone in the industry knew that was not an easy sale. Most of the owners with whom I was going to be working had owned their businesses for generations and were used to employees who had longevity with the company. Since ad sales reps have great turnover, they were used to getting a different rep often trying to come in and sell them something new; they were used to doing things “old school” and typically weren’t open to new ideas.
As I was preparing to visit one of the dealerships, I spoke with the rep who had visited before me. He told me to not even bother going in there. The owner wasn’t interested. He said he had been in numerous times and told the owner about all of the new promotions, ideas and advertising opportunities and the owner always said no. Well, I had no choice and had to pay him a visit – it was my job. But you can imagine my trepidation and lack of confidence going in.
I had all of my notes prepared, copies of all of the promotions and my sales sheet ready to be filled out. As I walked in to our meeting I was as prepared as I could be. I sat down and the first question the owner asked me was: “So, what are you going to pitch to me today?” At that very moment a light bulb went off for me. Rather than start telling him everything I could offer, I simply asked one question.
I said to him, “I am not interested in telling you everything we have, instead, why don’t you tell me what’s important to you and how I can help you?” At that moment I saw a great look of confusion on his face. We then sat in silence for what felt like 3 hours but was probably just 2-3 minutes. I didn’t say a word.
The result? I sold my biggest advertising package that day. The owner had told me that no one had ever asked him what was important to him or what he wanted. We spent the next hour strategizing on ideas and issues he had in the past and came up with a great plan. He even asked that I come back monthly to revisit the plan. To date, I have never forgotten that meeting. I learned that in the art of selling it s better to SHUTUP and let the customer do all of the talking. You have even heard the maxim – “you have two ears and one mouth” and you should use them according to that ratio. In other words, listening is a far more powerful sales weapon than talking.
When you start offering everything that you think is good for your customer without knowing their needs and wants, you lose that customer from the inception. That’s why we created the Platinum Sales Rule: “Sell to others as they want to be sold.” By obeying this fundamental rules of sales, you will always help the customer and help identify their wants and needs and in turn give yourself the best sales perspective.
Jaime Marco is the owner and President of Evolve Business Consulting. Jaime is a graduate of the University of Central Florida in Orlando and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Interpersonal Communications. Jaime has an established, comprehensive, and proven background in sales, branding, training & development, leadership coaching, facilitation, change management, business development and professional speaking – experience that she has cultivated over many years.