Friday, August 27, 2010
Today, I read a fun article by the Harvard Business Review on salespeople's seven deadly sins.
Although they listed chattering as the least deadly of the sins, I find it to be one of the most overlooked qualities of salespeople. Amateur salespeople are naturally very nervous to get on the phone. As a result they’ve probably scripted a pitch, or have been given a scripted pitch. A good salesperson might use this pitch for their first call or two, a bad one will use it throughout their entire career. The problem with the scripted pitch is it doesn’t leave much room for interruption. Bad salespeople assume this is a good thing- that the longer they have to talk at the customer, the better. But customers don’t want to be spoken at they want to be dialogued with. Even if you’ve interrupted someone’s day, they will appreciate the call if they hang up having gotten something out of it. Asking customers how they would like to see their plans, services, or businesses improved and then finding a way to deliver them that result should be the objective of all sales calls.
Delivering this same service online is much trickier, as you’re speaking to a much wider audience with a vast array of unique problems. It’s nearly impossible to avoid assumptions about your customers when developing a website. Presumptuousness was listed as the second deadliest sin by HBR. They write, “assuming information you really don’t know is one of the worst sins for a salesperson.” The solution: get to know the information. The rule of talking with your customer and not at them still applies to selling online. Your research should fill in their end of the conversation. What are their biggest concerns/setbacks (ALL of them)? Respond with your solutions. But your solutions can’t solve every customer’s problem, and they’ll wonder how it pertains to them specifically. That’s when you list every possible problem they might have and a specific solution for each.
Online sales require a whole other set of techniques. You have a few words to get it right, or the back button is going to get clicked.