I read an article this morning that suggested that we should find a different word than "sales" to use for the process of doing business. I kind of agree, but I don't have a clue what the word should be. I agree because the word "sales" has a negative connotation that infers a lack of ethics. I agree because most salespeople would do things in their role as a salesperson that they would not do in their role as spouse, parent, child or friend. I agree because most people look at sales as adversarial where somebody has to win and somebody has to lose and the loser always has to pretend to feel like a winner. I agree because most people didn't plan on being a salesperson when they grew up and if given the opportunity, would rather do something else. I agree because most people do not look forward to dealing with a salesperson and may feel the need to take a shower after they do. I agree because most people think that sales is convincing people to buy whether they need it or not.
So, as I pondered what the substitute word should be, I had to ponder what the process was that we were trying to rename. I found myself reflecting on Nancy. Nancy was the controller of a furniture store chain. When I asked, "So, what do you think?" She replied with, "I know I was sold. I just don't know when." Funny thing was that I hadn't asked her to buy. She kind of sold herself.
Here's the secret. I ask lots of questions. I ask good questions. My questions are all shapes, sizes and colors and I ask them from lots of different angles. (Just like the picture.) I ask until I can't think of any more to ask and then I say, "I know that I've asked a lot of questions, but I feel like there's one more that I need to ask. What would you ask if you were me?" When they reply, I say, "Of course. So, what's the answer?" and they continue to do my job for me. Your questions need to be conversational, interesting, non-threatening, and non-confrontational until they need to be otherwise. Leave the bright light at home and don't ask your questions like it's a fifth degree. Don't ask about minutia. The sale is not in the details. It's in the soul. It's not about what you will do. It's in how they will feel. Ask about their failures and successes, their process and frustrations, their hope and their timeline.
So, are your questions as good as they could be? Click here to get a list of questions.