A sales person who sells someone something they don’t need should be taken behind the proverbial old barn and horse whipped. The same goes for a sales person who is unable to persuade someone to buy something they really do need because the prospect will end up buying something they don’t need from someone else.

Sales people should be trusted advisors of goods and services just as the physician is a trusted advisor for someone’s health and just as a financial consultant and CPA are trusted advisors for someone’s wealth and just as an attorney is a trusted advisor for someone’s personal and business affairs and just as a minister is a trusted advisor for someone’s spiritual affairs. All of these advisors are professionals in their various fields of expertise, and people are drawn to them because they can be trusted. All of these professionals operated under a code of ethics that provides the confidence that they will act and perform their duties properly.

As an advisor for the purchase of goods and services, a sales person ultimately has more involvement in the wellbeing of a person’s life than all of the other professionals combined. Yet, how many sales people take their profession as seriously as the physician, the financial consultant, the CPA, the attorney or the minister. They all study their profession for years in colleges and universities, many with advanced degrees followed by internships and additional preparation. As a sales person, what are you doing to become a professional in your industry, and what are you doing to prepare yourself to be the trusted advisor to ensure the prospect buys the right product or service to solve their problem?

Become a student of your product or service. Learn all you can about how it is made, how it works, what it can do and how it can solve various problems. Know your product, and when you reach the point of not being able to know any more, know who does know and use them as a resource. Many years ago when I was working in the steel industry, my boss, the senior vice president of sales gave me a book to study. Within the covers of this book was all the knowledge anyone would need to understand the technical aspects of the steel industry. The book was called The Making, Shaping and Treating of Steel. In essence, it was the equivalent of a Master Degree in metallurgy. I read the book, studied the book in addition to many other companion books during my years as a sales person in the steel industry. However, there were always things that I didn’t know, but I knew who did know, and I used them to reinforce my own knowledge. I discovered that knowledge was power, and the power allowed me to solve problems that others were unable to discern.

Understand your customers, their industries and markets. If you worked for them, you would be their most successful sales person. Knowing your customer allows you to know their needs, and provide them with the right solutions. You are not just selling a product or a service; you are solving problems and meeting their needs. The only way to know your customers is to walk in their shoes. Spend time with them and get into their heads. Understand the how’s and why’s of their business. During my sales career, I worked with hundreds of companies in almost as many industries. I learned their business, their products, their industry and markets. Now I’m a good sales person, not the best by any means. However, I would have been a top sales person for any of the companies that I consulted with because I spent the time to learn the relationship between products, needs and solutions. If you don’t know your customer even better than they know themselves, you haven’t prepared yourself well enough to become their trusted advisor, and you will never be able to provide the service they are looking for; solutions to their problems!

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Copyright: The Business Performance Group, Inc.
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