Did You Ever Punch A Customer?

Robert Seviour

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I got close to it once, I was the sales rep for a replacement-window company and I went to see an architect who worked out of his home. Because I thought I knew a lot about home insulation, thermal values etc, I gave this fellow a little tutorial on the subject.

10 minutes into my dissertation, he said to me, ‘I didn't ask for a lecture, I wanted to know how much you would charge to replace my old windows’ - and, angrily, he threw me out.

Since I had my samples spread out around his living room, it took me a couple of minutes to gather it all up and leave. Then as I went through the front door I saw something to vent my frustration on. He had a couple of big flower pots either side of the entrance, so I gave them an energetic kick and they pitched over - plants and dirt everywhere. He got really mad at this and swore at me. I gave him better back.

Next Monday, at our company sales meeting, my sales manager took me aside and said, ‘I've had to do a lot of pleading to save your job', and told me that the customer had written a letter of complaint about me to the CEO.

Twenty five years later, I still cringe when I think of this incident. Just from a professional standpoint, I was an idiot. The customer was a good prospect, if I had done my job well, he would have given me an order, I would have got paid and quite possibly, he would have been a source of recommendations. Why the heck did I feel the need to lecture him?

The answer is that ego directed my actions, I was showing off my expertise. That's a big trap for anyone in sales. If you are smart, keep all that deep product knowledge back unless the customer asks you a specific question.

Instead, focus on discovering the customers’ reasons for wanting your product / service. Ask questions which bring this out. Let the customer do most of the talking at first and really listen to what they are saying.

Keep your talking under control until you know what the customers’ motivation and concerns are. Then tell how you can help them get what they want.

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Robert Seviour learned sales skills the hard way, by making a lot of mistakes - you don't need to.

For more hints on professional selling, visit http://www.seviourbooks.com


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