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Good-Bye Product Selling --
Let the Dialogue Begin
How open are you to looking at your selling process up close -- and every salesperson has a process he or she uses over and over consciously or unconsciously? If so, then you should read this book. As you read it, you can assess your sales approach, spot your strengths and weaknesses, and make the necessary corrections. You can tap into your natural skills and knowledge and sell more by creating a need-based dialogue with your customers.
This is a how-to book for selling at the turn of the millennium, an era in which customers are more demanding, products look more and more alike, and the level of "customer focus" is a chief differentiator among competing firms. You are probably thinking, "But I already focus on my customer's needs." And you probably do. But the level of customer focus and the skills and processes it takes to sell to today's customer are different -- not completely different, of course, but enough to make the difference between winning a piece of business and coming in second.
The consultative approach works. Most salespeople, if asked, would say they are already consultative, "customer-need-driven," "customer-focused." And most salespeople truly intend to be consultative. But our experience in over two decades of working with thousands and thousands of salespeople and their managers in the finest organizations in the world, from Fortune 100 companies around the globe to small businesses, shows that few salespeople have mastered consultative selling. Have you? How can you tell? Traditional sales approaches, approaches that worked before, are failing miserably in today's market where a commodity mindset rules.
If you were to ask 100 salespeople whether they were customer-focused or product-focused in their sales approach, what do you think they would say? Probably 99.9 percent would say they were customer-focused. Few, if any, would boast about selling "a box." Most would tell you they find out or "know" their customers' needs. But it is this very self-perception that is the biggest obstacle in making the transition from product selling to real need-based dialogue selling. The most difficult part of teaching consultative selling is that people think they are already doing it!
Many salespeople don't see the need to change because they see themselves as need-based salespeople already. Often they are so very, very close to being consultative -- often just a few skills away. But being very, very close can still mean coming in number two.
While many top performers already sell using the real dialogue approach, in which they deeply understand and address customer needs, too many salespeople are still stuck (and usually trained) in the old molds. They respond to their customer's view by offering their own point of view, using sales talk like, "If I did X... would you then...?" or "Don't you want to save money and increase productivity?" "Yes, but..." or "__________" (you fill in the blank). The old formulas of selling are still around, holding good salespeople back. Preparing for his new job as head of training, one of my clients -- a top performer in a large brokerage firm -- read every phone-sales training book he could get his hands on. "I'm going into the sales book writing business," he remarked.
About the Author-
Linda Richardson is president of The Richardson Company in Philadelphia, a sales training firm with more than 160 clients, including Morgan Stanley, Johnson & Johnson, Aetna U.S. Healthcare, Citibank, Andersen Consulting, Tiffany & Co., Dell Computers, and Lucent Technologies. A member of the faculty of the prestigious Wharton Business School, she is the author of six books, including Selling by Phone and Sales CoachingMaking the Great Leap from Manager to Coach.
Table of Contents-
- The Six Elements of the Dialogue Framework. Dialogue Element: Opening. Dialogue Element: Product Positioning. Dialogue Elements: Price Positioning. Dialogue Element: Objections. Dialogue Element: Close/Action Step. Dialogue Element Follow-Up. The Six Critical Skills of the Dialogue Framework. Dialogue Skill. Dialogue Skill: Presence. Dialogue Skill: Relating. Dialogue Skill: Questioning. Dialogue Skill: Listening. Dialogue Skill: Product Positioning. Dialogue Skill: Checking. Preparing for the Sales Dialogue. Preparing Your Sales Strategy. Planning for the Sales Call. Negotiating Terms and Price. Self and Peer Coaching.
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