So You Think You Can Sell

A while ago I was in the market for a new car; so, one afternoon I went down to the dealership to look around, and a sales man approached me. He asked me if I was looking to buy a car, and when I said yes, he asked me what I did for a living. I told him I was in sales and training. He immediately took this information and went on to tell me that as a sales man I must travel a lot and probably needed a car with a lot of miles. Not just any car though, I needed a sporty car that would impress my clients. This was not what I was in the market for; so, I left. I went back to the same dealership a week later and was approached by a different salesman. He started the conversation by asking me what type of car I was looking for, and he listened while I explained that I wanted a large SUV. He then proceeded to ask me why I wanted a large car, and I told him that I had kids. Once he realized that this was my value driver, he brought me to look at SUV’s with high safety ratings. This man realized what I needed in a car because he took the time to listen and understand why I was buying.

There is a point to this story. As salespeople, we sometimes get caught up in the selling part. We go on long-winded stints of telling clients about the product, it’s benefits and it’s features without realizing that the customer may not even be in the market for the product we are describing. Instead, we need to actively listen to our prospects and find out what drives them; why are they in the market for our product? Out conversations should be 80/20 with our customers talking 80% and the 20% is left to us. Don’t dominate the conversation because it is vital that we understand our customer’s needs so that we can effectively sell them our products.

To fully help a customer find the right item, you can do the following:

- Determine what your customer needs and if your product fits that description. It’s simple, people will not buy what they don’t need; so, you don’t want to waste your time or your customer’s time trying to get them to make an unnecessary purchase.

- Ask questions. Then listen. Don’t just listen for half of their response. Really engage with them. In order to do this, don’t think ahead and try to concentrate on what they are saying.

- Know your product inside and out so that you can find the most suitable solution to their need and handle any objections. If your price is higher, be able to list the reasons. For example, there was a higher price on the SUVs that came with high safety ratings, but because that was something I needed, I was willing to pay the extra price.

If you use active listening and make sure you are selling based on needs, you will slowly see your sales progress.


Business coaching and adult education expert, Tim Hagen, has been in the consulting industry for more that 15 years. He specializes in employee coaching and training reinforcement. His Progress Coaching system, and Training Generator technology have revolutionized the idea of effective training. His services focus on sustainable employee development and growth, leading to increased return on employee training investments.

Tim Hagen

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