Boerne, Texas USA
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The most basic lesson in our approach to selling is to be confident, expect to win. We learn to inquire, to seek for the specific information to improve your sales position. In this sense we are negotiating from the start of the relationship.
• Expect Positive, Think Positive, Be Positive
• I am – statements (keep the inner voice positive)
• Seek to understand the individual

My first selling position was with World Book. When taught to sell books, the approach was 1. Grab their attention, 2. Build their interest, 3. Show them features like the pictures to build a desire, 3. Build conviction in the decision with facts, numbers, testimonials, 5. a call to action called the close. It worked ok but not great. I quickly learned it is hard to get in front of people, especially home-owners, families in their world, their home. Once the door opens, the first step is to inquire and listen to the emotional side of that person, diffusing their automatic defense reaction and establishing a basic trust.

This is the first step in building a relationship. Each door was different, I never knew what to expect when it opened except to know the person would be defensive, protective and would need to feel I could be trusted in their world. I learned to align with a decision advocate at the door and identify “Who” I needed to speak with. There was much I could take in walking up to the door, looking in the door, visiting briefly with whoever answered the door.
• Personality tendencies – observe and understand their office setting
• Active listening – seek to understand their Story and their Truth
• Seeking Win – Win = identify the WHY
• Align to Ideal Customer – Their needs and your needs
• Differences can lead to Conflict – listen to understand

First inquire and listen. Hear the facts, but also listen for the emotional side. There are lots of ways to inquire. The key is to ask open ended questions that leave the prospect talking in a direction that will help you help them. What do they need? What are their priorities? What is their story, is it affecting their decision? Can you help them? Can you align? There is no set order to discovery. Who often drives what, but sometimes in their world, what drives who. Inquire, listen and understand.
• What is the customer buying?
• What is the budget?
• What are perceived risks in the decision?
• What is the decision timeframe?
• What are the expectations for delivery?
• What are their priorities?
• What are their past experiences and how might it affect their current course?
• What acceptance and competence is involved?
• What may involve a meaning greater than themselves?
• What needs require assessment, diagnosis?
• Does this align with the requirements and the need?
• What is the process to make a decision (Purchasing or Procurement steps)
• Who is buying? Who will make the final decision?
• Who is influencing? What is their power base?
• Who is the gatekeeper? What are they saying no to?
• Who are legacy or instilled vendor relationships? Will they have influence?
• What are the buying influences planning to achieve personally?
o What is their personal Win?
o What is their potential loss or risk?

Inquiring and understanding their story behind their approach will often uncover negative emotions or defenses they are building to protect. Often the clients story on how is a defense strategy that will leave them short of their fullest win and they are intentionally mitigating the win to protect against some variable. When we understand their story, their method, their approach, we begin to understand their Why and we can better align our solution to help the customer. It may not be what we believe is ideal, but we are not the buyer. We are there to align, to help. Focus on their success. Understand that success is both a win and often a mitigation as well.
• How will the customer make a final decision?
• How does the customer plan to receive the purchased product or service?
• How does the customer plan to implement the purchased product or service?
• How does the customer hope to gain benefit?
• How will the purchased product or service fit into an existing process or solution?
• How will the benefit improve the current business?
• How will you feel when it is so?
• How may acceptance and competence be involved?
• How may the process involve a meaning greater than themselves?
• How do needs/requirement require assessment, diagnosis?
• How will the “Who’s” making/influencing the decision gain benefit personally for the business?
o How will they claim credit

Why do we do the crazy things we do in our humanity? It is about our story. Everyone has a story. It is a collection of our experiences, driving our values, influencing our behavior. Our story is a collection of positive and negative, intellectually analyzed and emotional charged. We all make decisions based on our experiences, our story.
• Why now?
• Why these requirements grouped together?
• Why – define the business goals & benefits
• Why – define the Who personal goals and benefits
• Why – emotions, their story, why will you feel ___ when it is so
• Why – acceptance and competence
• Why – may involve a meaning greater than themselves
• Align Why to How and What

This is when we can often get confused. We know what we want to sell. Does it align? What can we offer to help with their Whats? How can we provide it to help with their How, achieve their Win, and protect their How? Can we align our solution so that we pave a path to their success, their achievements, their why, their benefit? Will we profit in that alignment?
• Align the prospect’s What – How – What to your solution
• What = Features of Solution
• How = the approach or process of delivering and implementing solution
• Why = Benefits to be provided solves the customers primary Why’s

When we have aligned and we can help, we tell their future story. We can explain how the whats align, the hows align. We can paint a picture of how we really can help because we understand Why. It is understanding all aspects of their intended benefit.
• Summarize findings of Primary Benefits
• Discuss, list your features grouped to customer What
• Discuss, list your approach grouped to customer How
• Discuss, list benefits of your solution grouped to customer “Business Focused” Why
• It is typically not necessary to play all of our cards in the first presentation.