The best salespeople who exceed their sales goals have no need to sell. Instead, they attract sales to them. As you’ll see in this story, the power of questions, authentic, radical curiosity and care, and coaching your customers to succeed is their secret to becoming a sales champion.
Adrian was responsible for managing the sales team for one of the largest sporting goods and boating distributors in his town. He recently hired a new salesperson to work in the boating and fishing section. After two months, Jerry, the new salesperson, was outselling every salesperson he’s ever worked with. And big-ticket items too; including fishing rods, rowboats, camping tents, and a canoe!
Adrian was so impressed, he had to find out what Jerry’s secret was. He observed Jerry, as he continued to sell something to practically every person who walked into his department.
At the end of the day, Adrian went over to Jerry and said, “You’re doing fantastic. Not only have you increased the traffic tenfold in this department, but sales are better than ever! What’s your secret to identifying the buyers, getting them interested, and then motivating them to buy?”
Jerry simply said, “I just take the time to care enough and listen, especially for what their needs are,. And then I fill them.”
“It couldn’t be that simple,” Adrian thought.
So, Adrian quietly observed the next customer who started talking with Jerry. After about 45 minutes, Jerry watched, as this customer purchased fishing hooks, a new rod, a life preserver and a new jet ski!
After Jerry rang up the sale, and the happy customer left to pick up his new purchases, Adrian walked up to Jerry.
“You have to tell me how you did that.” Adrian excitedly asked with intense interest. “What did you say that made him buy?”
What Great Salespeople Be, Not Do
Jerry said, “Most of my customers, including this person, walk into my department with no intention to buy anything. It just so happened that when this gentleman was walking by, I simply asked, “How is your day, sir?”
He told me he was looking for his wife and ask where the women’s clothing department was. After pointing him in the right direction, I simply asked him what he was doing this weekend, and he told me he was going fishing on his boat. That’s when I started asking him questions. One thing led to another and it turns out he needed some things he didn’t even know he needed.”
“Like what?” Adrian asked.
Jerry thought for a moment and said, “Well, if I stop and think about it, these are some of the questions I ask most that help customers find what they need.”
- “What kind of fishing do you do? Where?”
- “What do you love most about boating and fishing?”
- “What kind of boat do you have?”
- “Who do you go fishing with?”
- “How often?”
- “What special place do you see yourself fishing that you haven’t been to yet?”
- “What does the perfect day look like when you’re out on your boat?”
- “If there was one thing you’d love to have that you don’t currently have, what would it be?”
- “One thing my parents always focused on when it comes to boating is safety. I’m curious. If there’s ever a problem with your boat or the weather, where you and your passengers could be in danger, what safety equipment do you have?”
- “What are you most concerned about regarding safety and ensuring you and your guests always have a great experience?”
“And I especially focus on safety to ensure they always have a great boating experience,” Jerry reflected.
“The safety gear he had was old, and outdated. If I never asked, I would never have been able to truly help this person, enhance his boating experiences and possibly even save a life. What’s more important than that?”
Jerry self-reflected for a moment. “That’s why I guess I’m good at what I do. I love people first, and I want to know who they are – their story. It’s genuine sense of caring and curiosity. I focus all of my attention on them, not on me or what I have to gain if I sell anything.
Funny; I don’t really think about selling when having a good conversation with people. But I guess that’s what I’m doing – selling. Then, sales just happen.”
There’s a reason why the position Sales Leader exists. The greatest salespeople are the greatest leaders. And the greatest leaders are exemplary performance coaches. Therefore, the greatest salespeople are world-class coaches.
The Salesperson Who Doesn’t Sell Will Always Sell
This story illustrates not only what great salespeople do but who they are and how they think. Do you take the time to seek to understand others as people, not a prospect or a part of your quota? Are you mindful, and care enough, to put all of your attention on them rather than on you? There’s a difference been just hunting for the sale and being genuinely interested in helping people unconditionally, without pushing your self-centered agenda because you genuinely care more about them, than any quota you need to hit or money you can make.
The lesson? Your primary focus will always be on the who, not the what (the sale.) So, stop making assumptions, and shift to being:
- Insatiably curious
Develop the habit of coaching that will organically make you a sales champion and world-class coach. Start by leading every conversation with care, curiosity and questions, rather than leading them with answers.
Excellent article not only for sales, but for getting along with people that disagree with you. Thanks, Keith.
I always know when a client really “gets it” and will start to enjoy the dramatic increases they deserve.
It’s when they realize that “good” Sales people do a good job at representing their products and services – GREAT Sales people do a great job representing their CLIENTS :)
Love the story…it paints a very powerful message on the art of selling.
Yes, I believe Curiosity is the most powerful thing we own. Being curious about the person you are selling to, or better yet, serving! Making the conversation about them and what is important to them!
As you state “being genuinely interested in helping people unconditionally, without pushing your self-centered agenda because you genuinely care more about them…”
The picture of the Magnet….love it…once you make it about them and what matters to them….they are “attracted” to you and opens the conversation up to greater opportunities to deliver value (Sell)!
What a great article! It’s refreshing to hear such a great message on authenticity. It truly is the genuine and authentic curiosity that builds a connection between individuals faster than anything.