I learnt this master key when I first started out in sales as a store assistant at my local Clarks shoe shop.
I was about 15 and had started in the Men’s section. I had no idea what I was doing. Sales training for Saturday staff didn’t exist back then and my results spoke for themselves.
It got so bad that I was called into the managers office one day and told that if my sales didn’t pick up soon he was going to have to let me go. This was a kick in the guts and I was determined to be the best sales person they had ever had.
So I went back on to the shop floor and was even more enthusiastic, even more helpful, even more “salesy” – and my sales dropped even further.
I was devastated. My dad picked me up one day from work and we got chatting about my ineptitude at sales.
“Son, you have to realise one thing. If a customer loves their shoes why would they want to buy a new pair?”
And that was one of those light bulb moments that we’ve all had. There was nothing “wrong” with their shoes, so why did they need a new pair?
I went back to work the following weekend and worked this into my sales patter – “Sure is hot out there today, you must be hot in those shoes?”, “You’ve got a job interview on Monday? First thing an interviewer looks at is the quality of your shoes”, “I turned my ankle on a trek because I didn’t have the right walking boots, has that ever happened to you?” (obviously these are examples thrown in during the conversations).
And that day I was second in the store for total sales. The following week I lead the store in sales. And from that day on I was the leading sales person in the store for 4 years. All thanks to that one piece of advice.
An undisturbed prospect will not buy.
I will caveat this master key with one thing – you cannot overtly “disturb” them through any form of emotional statements. If you do this and they pick up on it they will very quickly turn on you and you will lose the sale. Instead help them to uncover that they have this pain and that only your product or service can bring them relief.
Check out my other blog post “the New ABC of Selling” that has a little more about questioning techniques.