Every time you talk to somebody about your product when you go to a trade show, get in front of a buyer, or get on the phone, you’re selling your product. You are a salesperson. You sell people on investing in your product, you sell people on the idea, you sell people on how it works. Every time you talk about it, you’re technically selling. The bottom line is you are the epitome of a salesperson. The question is how do you sell what’s in your head and thinking about selling? Discover the five keys to solution-based selling so you can work and partner together with your clients to solve problems.
I hope that you are all doing awesome. I am having a great week. It’s going good. We’ve made some contacts, we’ve talked to some people and the strategies that we’ve put into place are really working. I hope they’re also working for you. I hope that by reading this, you’re learning some strategies, you’re putting those into practice. It’s giving you some ideas and it’s making your life a little bit easier. That’s our goal. We want you to come back to us and tell us, “I tried that thing you said, and guess what? It worked.” “I reached out to the buyer in this way and guess what? It worked.” “I tweaked my pitch email and guess what? It worked.” I would encourage you to reach back out to us. Let us know how things are going. Let us know what’s going on with you and your program and your product and your struggle or your successes. Let us know what is happening and how the show is or is not helping you. We want both.
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There are so many ways to get ahold of us. There should really be no issue, nothing holding you back. We want to see you on our closed Facebook group, which is On the Shelf Now. Join, you’re in with the experts. We’re going to be recording Flash Topic. I know that you are all liking the Flash Topic podcasts as much as we like doing them. You’re probably wondering what we’re talking about? I’m going to tell you it’s not what’s in buyers hear or what buyers are thinking about. Enough with the buyers for now. Enough with what they’re thinking, wanting and wondering.
We’re going to take a break from trying to get into the head of a buyer at least from the perspective of what they’re thinking. We’re going to talk about sales. I said that we were going to have a couple of podcasts that were dedicated to sales because everything that you guys are doing, every time you talk to somebody about your product, go to a trade show, get in front of a buyer, get on the phone, you’re really selling your product. It’s important that we talk a little bit about sales and some sales techniques and what I use, how I formulate my thoughts around sales. I hope that you’re not too disappointed that we’re not going to go deep dive into the brain of a buyer now.
There are a couple of things I want to talk about regarding sales. If you don’t see yourself as a sales person, “I’m an engineer, I’m an inventor,” you are salespeople. You sell people on investing in your product. You sell people on the idea, you sell people on how it works. Every time you talk about it, you’re technically selling. Don’t think that you’re not a salesperson. You are the epitome of a salesperson, bottom line. Now, that we have that out of the way and you know for a fact that you are sales person, your ears should be picking up a little bit or more. I’m sorry to tell you that you don’t get to tune out on this one. What we’re going to talk about is important. How do I sell? What is in my head when I’m thinking about selling? The easy answer to that is just one thing. I want to solve your problem. That’s all I care about is solving your problem.You are salespeople. You sell people on investing in your product. You sell people on the idea, you sell people on how it works. Click To Tweet
One time when I was a district manager of a small group of stores in San Diego, we were last in the company. I was just trying to rally this group and I said, “Listen, we’re not going to focus on anything, except for solving problems. I don’t care what problem comes through the door, I want you to solve it. If somebody walks into the door and ask where the nearest Krispy Kreme doughnut places, I want you to look it up on the Internet and find it for them.” We put this big sign on the back of the door from the backroom that goes into the showroom.
Every time somebody had to pass through that door to greet a customer, there’s a big sign that says, “I hope that I’m able to solve their problem.” I can’t even describe the kind of turnaround catalyst that was. That turned around this district and turned it into number one in the company. It wasn’t just the solving the problems thing, but that was the catalyst that took all the pressure off. Before that, managers and salespeople, they were looking at people that came in the door, as a bill or the answer to my mortgage or the answer to my problems or the answer to my medical bills. They didn’t even see them as people anymore. They were just answers to their own problems.
Just like a horse can sniff it out if you’re scared on their back, customers can sniff it out if you don’t care about them. If you don’t care about what they’re trying to do, what their issues are. If you’re just looking at them like you’re going to eat them for breakfast and devour them because you’re hoping that they’re going to solve your problem. You have money problems. I got bills to pay. I got mortgage. I got kids. I got a wife. I got this, I got that and you better solve that. You better buy something from me so that I can in turn give you commission and in turn solve my own problems. The first thing that we did was we turned that upside down and all around. I said, no longer are we going to be worried about our own bills and our own problems and our own issues. You’re not even focused on selling anything. You’re just focused on the problem, whatever it is. That was a catalyst for a revolution in that district that drove it from last in the company to number one.
It’s not common for anybody to go to a buyer and start asking them what their issues are, what their problems are. What are you trying to solve Mr. Buyer? What’s on your agenda for this year? Sometimes you need to find that out. Sometimes you need to build that into the conversation. If you’re just talking, but none of those things are connecting with the buyer about what their issues are, and what they’re trying to do, you’re just talking. I’m tangenting because I love sales and this could go in a lot of different directions and I’m going to apologize immediately for that. I always call this type of selling, solution-based selling. It’s based on solving problems. They’re coming to you or you’re going to them, they have issues and you want to solve it. If your product doesn’t in some way make their position a little bit better, make their position stronger, make their margin bigger, make their revenue taller, then why are they talking to you?
Solution-based selling. My next thing was to tell you what that is but I think I’ve already gone into what solution-based selling is. It’s solving problems, bottom line. I want you to think about the last interaction you had with somebody that was thinking about buying your product, whether it was a buyer, or a customer, or an investor. I want you to think about how much time you spent thinking about them and what they were trying to accomplish. Did you spend all your time literally trying to spit out as much about your product as you could before that person cut you off? We’re going to change that. We’re going to look at that out of a new window, new paradigm.
The next time you’re trying to sell your product, I want you to do this next thing. I want you to ask a bunch of questions. When we were selling, most of you may or may not know that the district I was talking about was Oreck, the lightweight work vacuums. There was a district down at San Diego that I ran that came to number one in the country. When they used to sell vacuums, customer would come in and they would just go into a litany of, “Look how light it is. It’s eight pounds. It has 11,000 individually crimped bristles on the brush who turns at 6,500 rpm, blah, blah, blah.” I could say all those statistics for you all day, they’re still in there.
We would get down with this big spiel and the buyer would just be looking at us. That’s a lot of stuff it does. We started asking you, “What kind of floors do you have?” “I have hardwood floors.” Are they new hardwood or are they old or are they PERGO or are they synthetic?” Then we would ask a key question, “What issues do you have in keeping those hardwood floors clean?” Probably even before that, we might say, “What brings you in? What are you specifically looking for?” We want to make sure that when you’re selling, you always sell at least the one thing that they came in for. You don’t want to forget that. If they came in for some cleaning products, you want to set those aside on the counter, make sure that those are there. Then you’re going to ask them, “What kind of issues you have in keeping those floors clean?” “Do you have any other types of floors, carpet of linoleum? You do. Do you have any pets? What kind cleaning problems are the pets creating for you?” You just keep asking.
Here’s the hard part. It seems easy, but it’s really not because you have to take every answer that they’re giving you and catalog it in your head. While she’s talking or he’s talking, you’re starting to match those up with the benefits and the specific key elements of what you’re selling. At the end, when we have all the information that we would need, that’s when we started the demo. That’s when we really broke out which vacuum we’re going to show or the orbiter or the air purifier, whatever it was that was going to solve the problem.
Instead of just spewing out and throwing up all over this customer about what we had and all the benefits and the features, we tied everything into something that they said. “You said on your carpet that you’re having trouble with pet hair. Let me talk to you about the 11,000 individually crimped bristles. Let me tell you why having them crimped is a big deal and why our brush turns at 6,500 rpm. Why that’s a big deal with regard to pet hair and what that’s going to solve for you.”
All of a sudden these key factors of the vacuum are making so much more sense. Not only that, but they’re starting to solve a problem. If I get this, then I won’t have this problem. If I get that, then that’s going to solve this problem. I will tell you that it’s more difficult for any buyer, whether they’re a consumer buyer, a buyer to retailer, to leave empty handed, or to let you go empty handed if you’ve legitimately solve their problem in some way. They know if they let you walk out of the door or if they walk out of the door, that problems still exist and they haven’t solved it yet even though you had the solution. It’s going to be hard for them.
They’re going to struggle with it and that’s what you want. Once you just get that and then you can help start getting them into the product that they want. Let’s tie it back into a buyer. We were just at Advance Auto Parts with a client. One of the key things, and my clients had never asked this question to this buyer, but what are your goals? We asked her, “What are your goals?” What are you trying to accomplish this season?
We started out with that and she was very candid about what she was trying to work on. We are trying to skew down in this area. We’re trying to build this up. We’re going to rearrange this section of the store. She started letting us know what they were most interested in. We had some key features of our products that fit very nicely into what she was trying to accomplish. She started to sit up. She started to lean forward. All of a sudden more questions started coming out, there was a dialogue.
Back in grade school if you remember when somebody hits you or girls punches you on the shoulder, that’s a good thing. She likes you. When buyers start asking you questions and you start dialoguing with them, you’re selling. You’re going to get an order at some point. This buyer’s interested. They’re now engaged. They are leaning forward. The body language has changed. The walls aren’t up. All of the sudden you are now in the boat at the same time rowing in the same direction. It’s a big deal.When buyers start asking you questions and you start dialoguing with them, you're selling. You're going to get an order at some point. Click To Tweet
Let’s break it back down. Solution-based selling, we’re trying to solve problems. How do we do that? You got to make it not all about you. It’s not all about you vomiting all over the person you’re trying to tell about your product. It’s about asking questions and finding out what they’re dealing with, what they’re struggling with. Just like our show, we want to know what you’re struggling with so that we can help you. You want to know what your buyer is struggling with so that you can tie in how you’re going to help them
Maybe they’re struggling with assortment, and maybe your product is multipurpose. They’re trying to skew down because you are reducing your space. That’s what our product really helps you do. Instead of just being specific to this one issue, it’s multipurpose. It can handle this, this and this. It really can take the place of four products. As you’re are skewing down, you can put up one product in the place of four. Now we’re in a boat rowing the same direction. You are trying to help me do my job and I really like that.
Tying it all together, that’s the key thing. If you get the good questions out, if you’re able to tie those in, in your brain to the different features and benefits, don’t be in such a hurry to spew all that out. This is where you get to recap. I hear you say this, “Am I understanding your right?” There is a feature on product that completely handles that. Did I hear you say that you are looking for higher margin products? Our product 60 points of margin for the retailer depending on how much you’re ordering. I really feel like that we can help raise your average margin. I know I’m simplifying it here, but think about it in those terms. Don’t just rush to get it all out. Go back through their questions one-by-one. Make sure that you understand it right.
Make sure that you are in line with what they’re trying to accomplish and then solve it. Here’s what I used to say in training all the time. Let’s say you go to the doctor, you got a bad cough. You’re hacking all the time and you can’t even talk on the phone because you know you have a coughing fit. The doctor says, “I’m going to prescribe this and that should knock it out in a couple of days.” You don’t look at that doctor and say, “That sounds good, but I’m going to think about it. I’m going to go home and talk to my wife about it. We’re going to mull it over and I’ll get back toyou.”
No, you don’t say that. You run your butt down to the local pharmacy and you fillthat prescription and you’re feeling better in a couple of days. Why? That person is the expert. You told him the issues, you gave him symptoms, gave him problems that you’re having. Hopefully that doctor listened to you. They gathered all that information and then they tied it into a medicine that can help you. That’s what you do. You are the doctors of retail. You have the prescription for the issues that they’re having. Think about it in that way. Think about it in the fact that if you were the one receiving the prescription, you wouldn’t think about it. You wouldn’t wonder about it. You would run right down and get it. If you’re able to tie these things together for these buyers, for these people that are buying your product, they will buy it. If they don’t, they’ll struggle with that decision.
Thank you so much for listening. I think that you can tell, I love the dynamics of selling. I love that face-to-face encounter when it’s all on the line and you’re sitting there in the room and it’s about to start. It’s just exciting. I want you to look at it like that. I want you to be pumped up to do it, to talk to these people. I don’t want you to be scared. I don’t want you to be nervous. I don’t want you to think everything is on the line. You can’t say the wrong thing to the right person.
For the right person who gets it, you could fumble all day long. They’re going to wait for you because they’re the right person. Sometimes, you can’t say the right thing to the wrong person. You could say, “You could be awesome on your game.” If it’s the wrong person, it just won’t matter. Sometimes those things aren’t up to you, so have a good time. Be passionate about your product, be passionate about what they’re dealing with and what issues they have. Be passionate about how you can work together and partner together to solve those problems.Be focused on their issues and how your product solves it. That's how you're going to win. Click To Tweet
Make sure that you’re not throwing up all over them. I guarantee you that you throw up all over him, your pitch is going to be done in fifteen minutes. They’re not going to have any other questions and they’re going to walk out of there. They’re not going to answer another one of your emails. You’re not in the boat with them, you’re in the boat next to them and you guys are rowing against each other or rowing into each other. It’s just not working.
Be passionate, get excited, have some fun, and then be focused on them and what they’re trying to deal with. Be focused on their issues and how your product solves it. That’s how you’re going to win. That’s how you’re going to sell a product. Come reach out to us. There are so many different ways that you can do that. Come check out our new website OnTheShelfNow.com. Come check out our Facebook group On the Shelf Now and hit join so you can get into that conversation and start sharing some of your knowledge and get into the community.
If you want to reach out to us, you can always go to TLBConsulting.com. There are plenty of places for you to sign up for our newsletter. There are plenty of places for you to reach out to us. I appreciate what you guys are working on and what you’re doing. Until then, I look forward to seeing your products On The Shelf.