Recently I called a local trade seller with an enquiry, from a sales perspective it was a car crash, but provided a great example of why it pays to be a ‘Sales Dummy’ even in the simplest of sales situations.
I had a couple of questions about which product would suit me best. Before I’d finished asking the first question, the sales assistant decided they had heard enough and could answer the question, so they jumped in. Second question, similar result. He contradicts me on a factual but irrelevant point and gives me an answer which again doesn’t help. I won’t go on with the rest but it didn’t get any better.
After I’d hung up and was sadly reflecting on how many sales rules had been trampled, the one that came to mind was ‘Dummy Up – in sales it’s smart to be a dummy on purpose.’
What came across on the phone was an affliction that traps many sales people, particularly if they have been selling for some time. They start to see themselves as an expert who is expected to dispense knowledge and they compound this by indulging in a bit of mind reading. They hear what they want to hear, some part of them gets excited and they can’t wait to jump in and start talking.
Why does it happen? Fundamentally it’s a behaviour that is rooted in our own individual psychology and the beliefs we have built around that. Interestingly the same drivers are often why people have found sales an appealing career in the first place and some sales people just don’t have the humility that’s required to change this behaviour.
How would it feel if you went to see your doctor and within a few seconds of describing your symptoms they decided they knew what the problem was and you were on your way. What actually happens is that your questions are answered with other questions and they carefully build up a clear picture of your situation, ambiguous answers are clarified and only then will a diagnosis start to form. They use their expertise in the background and the questioning process also helps you build confidence in them and accept the diagnosis.
It’s a great approach for salespeople to adopt. Getting your prospects talking enables them to qualify their issues and you‘ll find out information that will help you either close the sale, or disqualify them as a prospect.
Preparation is the key – think of some typical sales situations where you find yourself talking too much. Come up with some ‘Dumb’ questions to ask that will shift the focus back to your prospect and keep them talking.
PS. The next call to a similar supplier was answered more professionally, they took time to understand my enquiry, asked a few questions that enabled them to discover that there was an alternative product that could help address my fundamental pain, which, even though its more expensive, will be worth the extra. I wonder how much business the first person misses out on.
The smartest sales people know its best to be a dummy on purpose.