IN A PREVIOUS POST I discussed the difference between ‘features’ and fluff‘ and why using objective rather than subjective reasoning will increase the likelihood that you can persuade others – whether they are customers or suppliers.
Being able to quote objective evidence is one thing. Proving it is another.
Take, for example, the situation where a client requires a single product to be distributed across multiple showrooms throughout Europe. While the product is made in China, the end users are spread from Birmingham to Berlin, Madrid to Milan. Clearly the client’s need is ‘scope of delivery’.
On learning the requirement, the sales person beams. “Ah!” he states, “We can distribute to all of those nine cities you have requested.” He sits back, satisfied that the contract will be signed immediately.
But the potential customer does not mirror the salesperson’s enthusiasm. “Oh yeah?” he replies, doubt clear from his tone. “Prove it!”
Every day sales people are caught out, arming themselves with little more than their smile and believing that their word is good enough to persuade. But today’s customers demand more. They demand evidence.
That’s why my laptop bag is full of tip cards, brochures, magazines, photocopies of reports, and of course, my laptop. Even after 17 years as a sales professional I don’t claim to be able to read minds. Instead, I funnel to find needs, and match those needs to features, which I support with evidence residing in my bag.
The total weight of my bag and contents is 5.6 kilograms and, more often than not, a single tip card, weighing barely 100 grams, is enough to persuade. All the other contents remain untouched, but are there, ready, to provide proof of features that match any number of potential needs.
So, when they say “prove it!” I smile, knowing that I have exactly the right document by my side.