Step 1) Meet and Greet…Step 2) Qualify or Discovery …Step 3) Present Features , Advantages and Benefits…Step 4) Handling Resistance…Step 5) Closing. These steps have been taught a thousand different ways as a process, when in fact, they are a map of what happens, not a process. Used as a process, salespeople try to do them to people instead of understanding them as a map of where they are in a conversation. These points are destinations on the map of what’s happening when the person shopping likes and trusts the salesperson enough to participate in a conversation by opening up and sharing. They happen when consumers and salespeople connect. They happen when a salesperson has the right intention. They don’t happen because of what is said, they happen because of what is felt by the consumer.

Selling is about connecting and communicating, not a process, and companies need to train their salespeople how to connect, communicate and serve from the first hello. Then they will prosper.  If they don’t change this dynamic I believe they will become extinct. I’ve believed this since 1996 and I don’t see companies changing how they engage the consumer…I see them putting more pressure on salespeople to make sales, making all their salespeople sound the same and reducing the purchase to price. Vicious cycle, but self-generated.

The most often mentioned poorest skill of salespeople is their listen skills. Poor listening skills can be attributed to the intention to make a sale and the desire to execute the steps as a sales process, instead of serve the consumers needs. Sales people are waiting to move the buyer to the next step to get to the close. They aren’t trying to have a conversation, to come to an understanding, to serve another person.

Even when need satisfaction selling is taught or the qualifying/discovery process is made the focus, consumers don’t open up to salespeople when they feel their main intent is to sell them.  Salespeople who are asking questions to get to the next step instead of connecting to serve another person turn consumers off and chase them away. Intent can’t be faked either, it’s communicated at the deepest of human connections and can’t be hidden.

Intentions have to be trained, and more importantly they have to be managed. Intentions are more important than tactics in creating a real dialogue and relationship that can increase sales. If the salesperson has the proper intention, understands the map and has skills to make their product part of the consumers finished desire, a great ownership experience not just a great buying experience, then customers are made, not just sales. When customers are made, sales increase through higher capture rates, increased average sale, higher average unit price. Additionally profit margins increase and can be maintained. Oh, and don’t forget, repeat and referral business adds new traffic or opportunities that increase sales and grow your business.

It’s not brain surgery but it does take a force of will, a real commitment to new training to help salespeople understand the map, not the process, to undue the damage of the process they’ve been trained to do for the past 4 decades. Training to teach them how to connect with consumers to make customers, not just sales. It takes training and managing to change the intention that’s been instilled in them and created the dysfunctional relationship that exists today between salespeople and consumers. This time though there’s more at stake than improving you sales, it’s about survival!

By Mike Moore

  1. Fred Catona says:

    “Poor listening skills can be attributed to the intention to make a sale and the desire to execute the steps as a sales process, instead of serve the consumers needs” – Excellent point and it’s unfortunate that this happens as much as it does. Great post Mike

  2. Very well said Mike. The dynamics of working with someone these days is a relationship and is dictated purely by the client’s response to how we treat them. Thanks for sharing.

    Michele Preston, CID Interior Designer, LLC

  3. Mike,
    You’ve made a number of fine points here. We in marketing, sales and management have to earn via service. That takes mutual understanding and respect. That also means one must listen to the other.


    …well said!

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