"If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail"
I was on a conference call last night talking to some marketers about sales tactics. A guy on the call is going through some well know sales training. I will say up front that I'm not familiar with this sales training but it has a great reputation. I think it's probably stellar, but this guy has only taken one small part of the training and inflated its importance.
In his opinion, the right way to sell is to drive your prospect into so much pain that they are practically begging to buy from you. Like most generalizations - this will work for some people and not for others.
In general - people move away from pain and towards pleasure. However, the push or pull people feel is different. People can have more or less risk aversion, and have more or less orientation towards a promise of reward. High performers tend to be motivated forward by the promise of reward - they are driven and risk is just part of the game for them.
This outlines a flaw in all "systems". No system is perfect, and everything that relies on people to interpret it can be corrupted. Hey, that's human history!
Personally I am far more influenced by a promise of a reward or positive emotions. I don't do business with people that make me feel like crap, or reinforce negative states. I do my best not to associate with people that operate in negativity.
There's another school of thought regarding sales. You put your customer into such a positive emotional state that associate those good feelings with whatever you're selling and buy it. Think of "state" as the unique mental and emotional framework that the customer is operating in.
The meta-level strategy that's common to both schools of thought is that influencing a customers state is important to sales. Sometimes you need to find the pain and offer a way out, or sometimes you need to show a reward that truly excites the customer. To be great at sales, you need to be able to figure out which tactic is the most appropriate. Sometimes you have to mix both - this is what champions do.
A lot of fast-food commercials are great at stimulating hunger. If they stopped at that and then flashed their logo they wouldn't be too effective. What they do is show you that juicy burger flying through the flames. I'm making myself hungry just thinking about it.
No matter what sales systems you study here's a Marketing Comet Principle: People do not like to feel 'sold'.
I remember talking to a sales trainer about doing a seminar for me. The joint venture would have represented a potentially large income for both of us. He decided to go hardball on me and demand a outlandish amount of money up front. He then used a bunch of "out of the book" objection counters when I told him the money was out of the question.
I realized then that the guy could regurgitate sales manuals chapter and verse, but couldn't sell me, or other sophisticated buyers. He hadn't built value, found out what my goals were, made a connection. He talked at me rather than to me. He let his ego get in the way of really communicating. My business partner and I walked away from the table and dropped the deal.
I have certainly read some sales books, or attended seminars and said to myself, "man this is it - this is how it's done." And what I've discovered is that no one thing, one system, or one strategy works all the time. Different high-performance sales people can and do use conflicting systems.
I'm not saying don't learn a sales system. Certainly sales training can be useful - especially if you aren't performing in the sales department or are new to sales. As a small business owner - selling is an essential skill - even if you don't work in direct sales.
J D Moore - Marketing Comet