I Need a Leader, Not a Salesman

October 21, 2014

Have you ever bought something or had to shop for something where all you wanted was some guidance to the best product to fit your needs?  You just wanted someone to take an interest and use their expertise to really help you?

When we bought new computers for our office a year ago, we needed to know what was going to work best to suit our office, our team and our plans for growth; what configurations, what features, what software, etc. What we needed was not so much a salesman as a leader to guide us through our decision. We needed someone with solid experience and expertise in office computing solutions to efficiently and effectively get us a solution that met budget, utility and comfort levels.  What I did NOT need was a computer wizard to baffle me with feature dumps, jargon and pressure to buy today.   I needed someone to lead me in a sales process and not a saleman to close me.

A sales leader! That is what we want most of the time!   It’s also what most clients want; someone who really can find me MY SOLUTION easily without pressure but with guidance and tempered expertise.

How often are you letting a prospect determine what they need to solve their problem? They don’t know!  Sure, sometimes they have a general idea, but it’s more likely that they don’t.  Men like to appear knowledgeable so they can save face, but when presented with numerous possibilities, they often don’t have all of the details required to choose the best option. This is where an effective sales leader comes in. 

So how do you quickly become a sales leader and not a salesperson? Easy, follow these steps …

1. Approach your prospect and ask for permission to ask them many questions in order to serve them better (no one ever says no). This allows you to start controlling the conversation and guiding them to the best solution.

2. Ask questions about their needs. Forget features and benefits! Ask them questions with all the different variables that might impact the solution you recommend. Will you use product ABC indoors, at night, with friends, with headphones, in the car, in matching colors, for how long, etc. These questions demonstrate your knowledge as well as your interest in finding the best recommendation.  A good leader also asks the tough questions.

3. When you finally have a recommendation (or maybe two) give them all the reasons that your recommendation matches their needs.   This also means if you don’t have a solution that works, you tell them and built credibility with honesty (like a good leader would).

4. Tell them what the next steps are. This is key. Most people wait for a prospect to tell the salesperson how they want to proceed. Often, people want to buy but don’t know what’s next in the process. So advise them of future steps and guide them to the next step, nice and relaxed.   People will follow a good leader all day every day … so will prospective customers with a good sales leader.

5. Establish that your solution not only helps their immediate need but also the longer term needs they may have.   Leaders don’t provide band-aids, they provide long term solutions and development plans so they are effectively partners in people’s and companies’ growth.

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