What I learned this summer about selling
By Nordic Solution Selling Expert Jens Edgren.
Everybody does it: sells. It can be anything. Mostly ideas and opinions.
This summer I have travelled, worked and enjoyed cultural aspects of life in Tokyo, Miami, London, Amsterdam, Paris, Madrid, Munich and soon I will return to the cultural outpost of Burning Man, Black Rock City in Nevada, USA.
What comes to me are how the cultural norms of society forms our behavioural norms, especially in selling. The sales situation puts everything to the test: listening, collaboration, convincing, structure and finally trust. Once trust is created a sale can take place. And getting to trust is a matter of understanding culture of the client.
From working with American sales people I learnt the importance of personal success, as the US society more or less is built upon personal achievements.
From spending time with European sales people I saw how they took pride in offering the best technical solution to the client.
From Japanese people I saw the pride in creating perfection, sometimes for the sake of just doing it and enjoying it.
What does all these cultures have in common, structures and sales learning that can be used to succeed?
First of all, the people I have met this summer are all incredible knowledgeable. They certainly had used Google and gone beyond reading articles, they had used their network and asked for advice.
Second, they were looking for new things they had not seen before they were willing to engage. Once there, they learned fast.
Third, they wanted to contribute to my learning as well. I became teacher/student at the same time.
I think that you can sense how impactive these people were, just like me.
A lesson for salespeople
To succeed in selling one must abandon the old rules of listening.
Many salespeople think that key to success is listening skills. It is not. If you come to a client, ask open questions you will trigger them. The only reason why they want you to come by is to learn something useful. So you better start with that – share an idea.
How would you know it is a new and fresh idea? You don’t know that until you have tried. That was something I also found out when meeting all these people, in my attempts to teach them something they did not know.
You will have to do your homework, think and give it your best. That is why numbers work in our favor as sales people. There is always someone out there who will say, “wow, I have never thought of that before you came”. You will just have to find that prospect. Make one hundred calls and I can promise you that he or she will show up.
In the old selling context the seller closed the conversation and offered to go home and draft a solution. That will not work either.
Smart, educated clients wants to contribute to the solution, after all – it is they who will use and own it. We call it co-creative. A process where you and your prospective client elaborate on ideas, bring in other people and create a solution.
You will be amazed how willing they will be to work with you. Now you are not selling anymore. You are involved with a process of helping them succeed. And you will to.
What is on the backside of the coin?
Nothing really. You just have to be willing to learn about the customer’s business, their culture and think how your stuff can make a difference. We call it preparations.
Solution Selling instructor