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Posted: July 03, 2012

Sales for dummies: Enough about you

What can you do for me?

David Sneed

Several months ago, I learned Word Press to remake my own website because I was tired of waiting for help when I needed to update content. After I finished creating it, I realized that my layout was flat, colorless and boring.

So I advertised for assistance to fix the website I had nicknamed "Nebraska:" I need some help making my website “pop.” I built it myself, but I don’t know that much about the Word Press features. If you want to see it before you respond, it’s: www. My website.com.

Within two hours, I received a ton of responses: 37 to be exact.  But here’s the thing – only one of them mentioned my site or my specific problem:

Your site is already well-built; I like the humor and the layout.  To give it some “pop," the first thing that comes to mind is the color scheme.  I would integrate some of the graphics on the book cover into the site. I can give you a full list of ideas. I typically work for $20-$30 an hour and have my designs ready for review within a couple of days.  I can send you a couple of links of professional sites that I have created and currently maintain if you are interested.  Thanks,

This person spoke to my issue specifically. He said what he liked, and he made a suggestion. He answered pertinent questions that I didn’t ask, knowing it was information I’d need to make a wise decision.
The other 36 responders did something entirely different – and wrong. They talked about themselves and their qualifications, listing websites they’d built, and they dropped client names like Josh McDaniel dropped home games:

Hi,
I saw your ad on Craigslist and understand you are looking for Website Design and Development work.
I have created lots of Landing Pages / Websites for many companies/ end-users in the past year. Please have a look at my recently developed sites with logos: (list of 16 recognizable companies). I hope these sample sites gives you fair idea about our designs. Please tell me how we can proceed further.
I look forward to working with you.

Who they’ve helped before is of no interest; I want to know that they can help ME. I understand their strategy: reply to every job hoping to get a small percentage of them. This wide net approach may help a corporation increase overall sales, but an individual salesman needs to target a single fish if he wants any chance of eating.

Sales is all about matching up your solution with their need, and you can do this only by caring enough to listen and understand. Have you ever walked up to an ice cream truck and heard the guy say: I’ve been selling cones for 30 years, or, I’ve sold rocket pops to the mayor? Nope. He wonders what flavor I want and makes a recommendation. He already understands why my raggedy kids and I have been chasing him for the last six blocks – I have a need. This is sales 101, and it applies whether you’re selling hot air balloons, insurance or ice cream cones.

This principle applies to getting a job as well – which I’ll assume all the Craigslist responders were trying to do. Your first words should address the customer (interviewer’s) needs, explaining how you understand what they’re looking for. But first, you’ll have to find out what their needs are. And you can’t do that while you’re yammering on about yourself.
 

David Sneed is the owner of Alpine Fence Company,and the author of" Everyone Has A Boss– The Two Hour Guide to Being the Most Valuable Employee at Any Company." As a Marine, father, employee and boss, David has learned how to help others succeed. He teaches the benefits of a strong work ethic to entry and mid-level employees. Contact him at  David@EveryoneHasABoss.com

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Readers Respond

David, Great article. I teach in my sales training two rules that mirror your mindset. (1) no salesperson ever "listened" themselves out of a sale, and (2) stop being "I" cnetered on your sales call and be "buyer-centered." By gary harvey on 2012 07 03
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