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Sales Training: The Ultimate Sales Test

Several years ago I was sitting in the office of a very successful businessman. He was the CEO of the company. He had finished interviewing me for a sales managers position. As we approached the end of the interview he turned to me and told me that he was very impressed with me .so far. He then paused dramatically and said, "Show me that you know how to sell.

SELL ME THIS PENCIL." The next ten seconds seemed like an eternity to me. I had been selling for many years. However, this really put me on the spot.

"SELL YOU A PENCIL?" I thought. "I don't know a thing about PENCILS!" It became evident that the entire interview was a mere formality to this exercise. If I passed this test I would get the job. If I flubbed this, I wouldn't. However in my panic there was a still small voice which relaxed me entirely and told me that I could easily do this. Do you want to take a guess as to what I did? Before I tell you what I did, let me tell you what I did not do. The majority of salespeople are talkers. The public wrongfully believes that to be a great salesperson you need to talk, talk, talk. We have all been in situations where a sales person would go on and on ad naseum about something. I can very quickly tell how experienced a sales person is by how much they talk.

Many sales trainers even emphasize this method of selling The number one complaint among customers is that salespeople "talk way too much!" The flip side of talking too much is that the salesperson is not listening to the customer. On the other hand, great salespeople are great listeners. What makes a great salesperson great is that they have learned to ask the questions that allow you to find out more about the customers wants and needs and then get the sale. This is the CENTER of salesmanship. If you look at the greatest salespeople of all time they are the ones who ASK the best questions. I have learned in my many years of selling that I can sell anything, with very limited product knowledge, if I learn to ask the right questions. A great example of this is Socrates, the Greek Philosopher. If you study Philosophy you will notice that all of Socrates work is called "the Dialogues." Socrates asked his pupils questions about life. He was not only seeking truth he was engaging the listener.

Isn't it true that your favorite teachers in school were the ones that engaged you in the educational process. Chances are the reason they were so good and stand out in your mind is that they understood the power of questions. The only way you can really engage the customer is if you ask questions. Good selling is all about exercising good control on the customer and prove to them that you are genuinely interested in them. The only way you can accomplish these objectives is to ask the customer question that demonstrate that you really care about them. You might imagine that with this type of insight, you too could sell anything to anybody. I smiled brightly. Looked the CEO square in the eye. Paused. Held the pencil up in the air and asked, "So tell me about the type of pencils that you normally use here in your company?" The CEO smiled back.

He knew that that by asking the question that I demonstrated that I was a professional salesperson. Lesson Learned. God built you with two ears and only one mouth. Ask. Then listen. Demonstrate to the customer that you genuinely care. What does this have to do with marketing on the web? Everything! People want solutions, genuine relationships and feelings of goodwill. Genuinely create that and you will have a business. Ignore it and you will be chasing income.


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