Mark Mitchell, who provides consulting advice to building products manufacturers, offered a gem of an insight in a recent eletter, where he outlined a solution for a sales representative who had the opportunity to make a 15-minute “pitch” to members of a regional building supply dealers’ association.
He had a couple of customers in the room, and not much time to waste. What should he say?
Mitchell’s advice would apply for any situation when you are seriously trying to discover new business. He told the rep not to try to sell anything.
Instead, he suggested the rep say these words:
I told him to talk about the problems facing lumber dealers for 15 minutes. As he didn’t have time to do his own research I gave him his presentation in the form of talking points
- Every year it gets harder to be a successful lumber dealer.\
- Many of your competitors are larger than you and getting bigger. They have more resources and bigger budgets.
- Your builder customers are also getting bigger and more sophisticated. They are more demanding, more knowledgeable and better negotiators.
- Relationships count for less.
- It’s harder to compete on or even match the prices of larger competitors.
- Big boxes are after your pro customers
- Big boxes and other large competitors, can frequently buy products at a lower cost and pass that savings onto to customers.
- As business continues to improve for larger manufacturers, you are becoming less important to them. Their level of support and service may be dropping off.
- You are now evaluated based on how much profit the large manufacturer makes from you more than simply how much you buy from them.
- At my company ,we recognize these challenges that you are facing and are committed to helping our dealer customers become more successful.
Ah yes, and how did it work?
The rep called me right after the meeting to let me know how well it went.
Here’s what he told me.
“I’ve never had a meeting with a dealer, let alone a group of dealers like that before.”
“They told me things dealers have never shared with me before.”
“When the meeting started I could tell, by their body language, that my presentation was something they had to sit through as a courtesy. It was like they already knew what I was going to say because they had heard it a hundred times before from every other rep.”
‘As soon as I started using your talking points, their body language immediately started to change. They all became very interested in what I had to say.”
“They started nodding their heads up and down and looking to each other in agreement.”
“They started to share their opinions about each of the talking points I was using.”
“Their view of me started to change from a sales rep to one of them.”
“They forgot about my 15-minute time limit. We continued to meet for 90 minutes. I was the one who had to end it, as I had to leave for another meeting.”
“My current customers, now see me as more important to them.”
“I can now contact any of the dealers at any time because I am one of the only reps who truly understands them.”
“Three of the dealers, who aren’t customers, asked me to contact them about starting to buy from us.”
Wow. What went right here?
Clearly the rep was able to get into the mindset of his potential clients; he talked to their real problems and issues, and their fears and concerns. Framing his message with empathy and respect, he could then get to the root of their needs, desires, values and objectives . . . and make serious inroads.
The advice here makes sense in almost any marketing or business development circumstance. If you can truly get into the mindsets of your potential clients, if you can capture and echo and respect their fears, values and hopes, you will sell. If you focus on your product, service (“customer service”), or competitive advantage, you’ll get nowhere.
Think and understand what really is in the mind of the individuals where you want to do business. You’ll find the results you are seeking.