3 must-haves for sellers
A couple of weeks ago I was having lunch with my 15-year-old son, Carver. If you know any teenagers, you know just being able to look them in the eye over a meal instead of at the top of their heads as they are buried in their devices is worth writing about.
Source: Jeff Schmidt, RAB
Carver was asking about my upcoming seminar at the Texas Association of Broadcasters. “Sales must be really difficult to learn; what do you teach people in your seminar?” Carver asked. I started telling him about preparation, relationship-building skills, and getting to know the client’s business better than your own. I explained the importance of having an aptitude for listening and understanding problems, then once you understand them, being able to create solutions that solve the problems, hopefully using your product or service.
In the midst of what I considered a rather “eloquent” discussion of the sales process, Carver interrupted, “Dad, just give me the top 3 things sellers must have to be successful.”
Startled a bit, I paused, and then they just rolled right out: Empathy, expertise, and problem-solving skills.
Don Beveridge was an early influencer in my career. In his book, The Achievement Challenge: How To Be A 10 In Business, Beveridge asserts that success in business rarely “just happens.”On the contrary, success is the result of a clear, definite, and pre-planned approach to the market. It was in this book that I first learned about the 3 must-haves for sellers: the afore-mentioned empathy, expertise, and problem-solving skills. After 30 years of on-the-street selling, it took my 15-year-old son to really make me stop and think what those three qualities really mean.
1. Empathy: The ability to listen, evaluate, and understand the customer’s problems from their point of view.
2. Expertise: Knowing not only your product and what it can do for your customer, but knowing your client’s product as well as your own so you can identify the appropriate fit.
3. Problem-Solving Skills: The ability to tie the client’s problems with your solutions in a manner that will be beneficial to your client -- and profitable. Again, from the customer’s point of view.
There are many sub-layers and discussions to be had about each of these three qualities. As we strive for excellence and improving our selling skills, can you think of any planned improvement thatwouldn’t fit into one of these three areas?
A few years ago, I asked Carver what he thought about “sales” as a profession and he said, “I don’t think it’s that hard to sell something. All you have to do is be nice, but at the same time be aggressive; talk to a lot of people and just get them to buy your stuff.” Now several years later, as a 15-year-old, Carver has a new, more mature view of the sales process. After sharing the 3 must-haves, he said, “I think I get it. Listen, learn, and then show them how you can help solve their problems.”
Admittedly, it was another proud father moment for me to see how my son’s view of selling had changed in just a few years.
Empathy, expertise, and problem-solving skills. Can it really be that simple? Is there anything else you need to be successful in sales?
What do you think?
Think Big, and Make Big Things Happen.
Jeff Schmidt is the SVP of Professional Development for the Radio Advertising Bureau. You can follow Jeff on Twitter @JeffreyASchmidt or email him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.