“I Didn’t Know You Cared”
Action Selling teaches that most of the selling you actually do during a sales call takes place while you are asking questions, not while you’re presenting your products. That calls for a pretty radical change in behavior for some veteran salespeople.
Suppose you called on a familiar customer and you began to ask insightful questions about the customer’s business that didn’t obviously pertain to the product you’re trying to sell. How surprised would the customer be to discover that you’re interested?
“I didn’t know you cared” is a reaction that some veteran salespeople fear they will hear from customers if they begin to practice what they learn in Action Selling. In training sessions, I have been asked, “What are my long-time customers going to think if I start asking them all these questions?”
What are my customers going to think?
It’s a fear that can cripple salespeople’s ability to change their behavior, even when they realize that they have discovered a far better way to sell. They know that Action Selling provides them with a more effective toolkit, but they worry that existing customers will find it odd if they pull out the new tools: “Will they think I have been replaced by a space alien?”
That fear has to be faced and overcome if salespeople want to win genuine loyalty from their customers. Customers grant loyalty only to salespeople whom they view as trusted business partners. Customers will never regard you as a trusted partner unless they know that you understand their needs—and that you care about their success.
The way to understand key needs, and to demonstrate that you care, is to ask great questions and listen closely to the answers. No questions? No loyalty.
Fortunately, overcoming this particular fear is usually pretty easy because the fear is baseless. Customers certainly may be surprised at the change in your behavior, but they won’t be alarmed or put off. Think about it. If you discovered that someone actually cared about you and your problems, would you assume they had gone crazy? Or would you think, “Hey, there’s more to this person than I thought?”
Action Selling in Action
Dakota Supply Group, based in Fargo, N.D., is a major Midwest distributor for a wide variety of mechanical, electrical, and communications products. When president Tom Rosendahl introduced Action Selling to the company, he began to see the impact quickly.
In one case, a 30-year veteran salesperson called on a longtime client and began to ask the kinds of questions he had learned in Action Selling training. The customer’s response: “I didn’t know you cared.”
In other words, Rosendahl says, “The customer thought that the rep was only interested in what business he could get.”
Some salespeople fear that customers will find it weird if they begin acting differently, so they resist changing their behavior. But this salesperson learned that customers actually like to work with someone who cares. And he took the message to heart.
The old saying is true, Rosendahl says: “Customers don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
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