What is Selling?
“Are you getting all existential on us again?”
“You’re talking in riddles again. It’s like asking ‘What is the sound of one hand clapping?’”
Folks, let me re-introduce you to Milt. If you’ve read my book, Zero-Time Selling, you know Milt. If you haven’t read my book yet…
“Which everyone should, of course.”
Of course. But, if you haven’t read Zero-Time Selling yet, Milt is..
“The star of the book.”
Milt is an avatar I created to represent the interests of the CEOs, VPs of Sales, entrepreneurs and sales professionals who read my book. He jumps in with observations and questions to make sure I keep everything clear and understandable.
Back to the task at hand, ‘What is Selling’ may seem like a question with a fairly obvious answer. However, I ask it all the time of salespeople and I am always surprised at the variety of answers I get. Ask 200 salespeople this question and you will likely receive 100 different answers. To me, this is a problem. If salespeople truly don’t understand the purpose of what they are doing each day, then their ability to succeed at their job is compromised.
Salespeople alone are not to blame for this. They have probably been mislead by their CEO and sales managers into thinking that sales is all about taking orders.
“That’s what I tell my sales team. ‘Your job is to close X orders this month’ or ‘Your job is to achieve this dollar quota this year.’ And so on. And so on.”
Those would be the right answers to the questions if they weren’t so wrong.
Perhaps the easiest way to understand what Selling is, is to first agree on what it is not. Selling is not about:
1. Convincing customers to buy your product
2. Getting an order.
3. Earning commissions.
“I’m confused. If selling is not about getting an order, then what is it?”
Selling is no more about getting an order than the ritualized Japanese Tea Ceremony is about drinking tea. Or that football is about scoring touchdowns. It is essential to not confuse the process with the results. The beauty of the Japanese tea ceremony is in the sublimely perfect execution of the 25 steps it takes to produce a cup of tea, serve it to your guests and clean up afterwards. Football is about the consistent execution of a process, in this case called a play. The more perfect the execution of the play the more rewards are achieved in the form of touchdowns.
Selling is the same. Selling is a process that is fundamentally an exchange of information between the buyer and seller. At its heart, Selling is the process by which the customer provides you with X information about their requirements and in return you provide Y information about your products and services. The key to consistent sales success resides in the process you execute to provide Y information to the prospect, and how absolutely responsive you are to the customer’s requirements for information to empower them to make the most informed purchase decision with the least investment of their time possible. Which results in or order for you.
For a salesperson, this means that you have to maintain a laser focus on how you can be completely responsive to a prospect or customer’s requirements for information. In my book, Zero-Time Selling, I show how a salesperson can ensure that every customer interaction will achieve Maximum Impact in the Least Time (MILT). If you’re a salesperson or sales manager, this should be the conscious goal of your day-to-day sales activity. ‘How can I be completely responsive to the customer’s need for information?’
“And if I do that?”
If you’re completely responsive to your customer’s information requirements then you will realize the results that you desire:
1. Getting an order
2. Earning Commissions
3. Making customers productive and happy with your product/service
4. Getting repeat orders
Andy Paul is author of the award-winning book, Zero-Time Selling: 10 Essential Steps to Accelerate Every Company’s Sales. A sought-after speaker and business coach, Andy conducts workshops and consults with sales teams of all sizes to teach them how to use responsiveness, speed and intelligent processes to increase sales. Enjoy what you just read? Sign up for our regular digest of valuable Zero-Time Selling sales tips and strategies, “Selling with Maximum Impact.”
© Andy Paul 2013