Asking ‘So?’ will let you look outwards to the buyer and the sale, not inwards to you

How do you get to speak in the language that connects with the buyer? By asking, “So?”.

Virtually all in-house sales training busy themselves with product knowledge. So if I’m selling waste-water treatment equipment, my in-house training will focus on the types of plants we have, their specifications, what they can do and how they do it. So carbon filters, insulated transfer chamber, pit walls and other technical terms will litter the training. In-house sales training look inwards. This is who we are; this is what we do; and this is how we do it. All good, to a point. The point at which a chairman of a multinational manufacturing concern once told his global staff, “The customer does not buy strategy- if our seasoning is not on the shelf when she wants it and if it fails to spice her food as she wants it to, then be damned with us and our lofty strategies!” In-house sessions look inwards, yet successful selling looks outwards.

Newbies struggle with reality

It is for this reason that upon release to the field, ostensibly equipped to sell, many sales people quickly hit a wall. Much like the theory of driving school is as different as death is from sleep, when compared to the practice evidenced when the novice hits the road. When addressing the engineer, ozone injector, oil skimmer unit and sludge output may keep the conversation going. But it is highly unlikely to get the sale going for two reasons: facts alone never sold, emotions do. Also, besides the engineer, the others who most likely comprise the decision-making unit won’t understand half of what you are saying.

How to connect product to need

How then does the seller connect his product to the buyer’s need? Through the use of the one word question, “So?”. It’s considered rude, yet in selling, is indispensable if we are to succeed. It is not meant to be verbalized, but silently shouting it will force you to find points of convergence between the buyer’s need and your product’s solution- if at all any exist. And why, “So?” Because, that’s exactly what the buyer is asking himself when you rattle on about how you have been doing this for the past seven years (So?). This establishment and that establishment has it (So?). The center-withdrawal coriolus pipe is unique to your plant…So?

Spell out the response to ‘So?’

So, based on the water requirements in your 100 apartments and borrowing from our 7 years experience with similar establishments we have worked with we know this. On average you will require 10,000 litres of water readily available at any one time if your guests are to enjoy their stay. Because water sanitation, reliability and conservation are important to you and us, continual research over our seven years has seen us improve our recycling technology. As such, now you will use a whopping 80% less water and you can put the cost savings into phase two of your ongoing construction.

Whether in in-house training or the field, go through every aspect of your product and put each to the “So?” test. And don’t stop at, for instance, ‘It will save you money’: that’s still abstract. Stretch it further. So? So, you will incur less interest at the bank. Or so your customer will be happier with you when you transfer the unexpected cost savings to them. Or, so, (whatever it is you know will benefit him)…So?


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