"Successful sales conversations are all about the customer's business - not our product" - Interview by John Smibert
In this discussion Dylis Guyan tells us about her sales mistake number two - "It's all about me". She claims that too many salespeople focus their discussion on themselves, their company and their products and services.
She points out that customers react badly to this sort of sales approach - it's not focussed on what interests the customer or on helping to customer advance their business. She emphasised that "your message has to resonate with what's going on in the head of your prospective client"
See her full interview below to understand this issue better and learn what you need to do to avoid this poor sales (and marketing) behaviour. In our next discussion with Dylis we will discuss the 1st classic mistake made by salespeople.
Dylis Guyan is based in Oxford, England and is an international sales and marketing expert, trainer, coach and speaker. She is also founder of the B2B Sales Academy.
John: Hello, I've got Dylis Guyan with me again - welcome back, Dylis.
Dylis: Hello again, John!
John: Hey, we've talked about the first of three mistakes that salespeople and business owners, etc. make in trying to prospect and generate some new business. The first was "lack of persistence", right? Don't give up too soon.
Dylis: Yes, that's right.
John: The second is?
Dylis: Their marketing and their approach is all about me, me, me - my product, my product, my product - or my company, my company, my company, whether it'd be in the marketing material, or in fact when they get in front of a prospect.
John: And sometimes it's not the salesperson's fault that they're doing that, because the company, as we discussed in our first interview, is driving them to talk about their product.
John: But something I say to a lot of salespeople is go and have your first discussion with a customer - or communications, whatever it is, email or whatever - make sure you don't discuss your company or your product once. Do you agree with that?
Dylis: Absolutely, yes.
John: So, tell me why are you saying don't discuss product or company
Dylis: Because if your approach is about your product, your company or about you, the prospective client generally won't read, listen or buy from you, because you haven't created any value; they're not interested. I've seen websites that say, "We have been in financial services for 25 years." Well, who cares?
John: So what? Yes.
Dylis: Who cares? One that I loved was "We look at team innovation and strategy." Well, that's not going to resonate with anyone. So, your message has to resonate with what's going on in the head of your prospective client.
John: And that's going to be nothing to do with the product or the company.
Dylis: Absolutely right. And sometimes the client doesn't even know that they've got a problem, and that very often, and I would say most times don't know the financial impact of that problem.
John: Okay. So, understanding this is a problem, we don't talk about our product or company. What do we talk about, and how do we prepare ourselves for talking about that?
Dylis: Well, it's about understanding your client, before you start your marketing, before you go to any sales interaction with a prospective client. You must understand them as an individual client, so it's about looking at their website, it's about looking on LinkedIn, it's about doing all of that research, but also understanding the marketplace in which they operate so that you go along...
John: And the challenges the companies on the marketplace are facing, because if one's facing it another's likely to be facing it.
Dylis: Yes, absolutely right. I remember - again, a number of years ago - I'd put a pharmaceutical company into Google.com/alerts, so Google Alerts, which is great for giving you trigger events and research information.
Dylis: And I got this email telling me that they'd issued their financial report, and when I looked in it there was an executive summary, and the chairman was saying, "We've had a fantastic year, 25% up on last year," which was phenomenal results, but they had been negatively affected to the tune of 5% on currency fluctuation.
Dylis: So, when I sent my initial email, it was, "Dear Mark, I noticed from your financial report that your chairman said," and I cut and pasted that information from the financial report into the email, and said, "I work with companies just like yours, helping them to increase revenue, and mitigate that 5% loss in currency fluctuation."
John: Something that is top of mind, currently quite concerned about, it may impact their financial year; of course they're going to talk to you.
Dylis: Of course. I got a reply to that email within half an hour, I made a phone call, and we talked about them, we talked about that issue, we talked about the impact and really quantified it. They asked me to go along and talk to the board, and one of the board members said to me, "Dylis, how did you know that? How did you find that out?"
Dylis: I said, "Because I'm interested in you as a company, and I've been doing some research," and he went, "I can't believe it! It is such a key issue for us!"
John: And yet they published it in their annual report.
Dylis: That's right, that's right.
John: [laughs]. Classic.
Dylis: Yes. And I subsequently got the work.
John: And it sounds, by the way you're talking about this, you didn't discuss your service or the product or anything until well down the track.
Dylis: John, the even funnier thing, and maybe it's not so funny, I set up my business, and at that time of generating that work, and work with a lot of international companies, I was like a tadpole in an ocean, and my competition was the big giants in the industry. They didn't ask me, but I had loads of testimonials from companies that I'd worked with that could substantiate what I was seeing and the results that they had got.
John: And they saw that you were going to make a difference for their company, and therefore invest.
Dylis: Completely, yes. And I was bringing these insights. And of course since then... There are products on the market now that companies can put in place to mitigate that currency fluctuation, but then that was the situation.
John: It's a great message. It frustrates me so often when I go... And often ~I'm on board~ with a salesperson, we go out and talk to customers and so on, and the first thing they start talking about is their product or company. "I'm Joe Bloggs, I'm from xyz company. We've been in this business 25 years, we really understand the sort of issue..."
Dylis: "No, you don't." [laughs]
John: "No, you don't." So, the message to the audience here is it doesn't matter how good your product, how good your company, the depth of the company and the depth of the trust you've got with your other customers and so on, you don't talk about your company or your product when you're approaching customers; it's got to be about the customers.
Dylis: Absolutely, 100% customer focus.
John: Thank you very much for the message - look forward to the next time we talk!
Dylis: Look forward to it, John - bye for now!
Other discussions with Dylis:
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