I was watching a programme on Body Language Secrets a few days ago and they were focussing on how an understanding of psychology is really beneficial to sales people in helping them to sell effectively.
To help demonstrate this they filmed two of the stars of the show, Jack and Anjula, visiting a car showroom to see how Carl would handle the potential sale of a car to them. Carl was described as one of the country’s top sales people who has sold £millions worth of top quality cars during his long and very successful career.
After asking a failrly typical opening question about the type of car they currently drove, to establish their current level, Carl went on to ask if they had a budget in mind. As they had walked into a showroom full of Aston Martins, Bentleys and Rolls Royces I’m not sure this was a suitable question. Price is a factor but most people don’t make the ultimate buying decision based on price even when they are not shopping in a top end car showroom.
Carl was now talking exclusively to Jack and was drawing lots of praise from Peter for getting Jack behind the wheel of a black Aston Martin and getting him to imagine himself driving and owning this beautiful car. Anjula was standing to one side and looking rather bored. It was at this stage that the show threw Carl a curve ball, with Anjula now telling Jack that as she was buying the car they wouldn’t be buying the Aston Martin as she didn’t like it.
The film then demonstrated how Carl was able to adjust to this new information and turn his attention to Anjula and foccussing all his attention on her and asking questions to establish what she was interested in. This ability to change focus so smoothly was supposed to show how good Carl was at using pyschology and body language to manage the sales process so well.
I thought this was nonsense. Pyschology and body language are important factors to consider in the sales process but Carl only appeared to be paying attention to one person during the call. He made a classic mistake initially thinking the car was the man’s domain and ignored the woman, and then gave most attention to the woman when he realised his error. A really good salesperson would have asked the couple when they first walked in what they were both looking for in a car, what was important to them in terms of the car’s specification etc and this would have then allowed him to ask who the car was actually for. Doing this would have allowed him to judge who would be making the decision to buy after they had found out more about the vehicles on display,with him involving both in the call even if he slightly favoured the person who he thought was making the final decision.
When coaching sales people I see this time and again, people not selling to the MAN (the person with the money, authority to buy and the need for the product or service). It is one of the most common mistakes that people make when starting the sales process. It is really important to check that you are going to be speaking to the right person before starting your call. I have been on the receiving end of a sales call when the sales person was told who the decision maker was and they still went on to try and sell to the wrong person!
It was a few years ago and my wife and I were looking at installing a new kitchen into the house we had just moved into. We called into one of the kitchen companies in our area and spoke to the Director of the company and arranged for her to come round to the house to give us an idea of what her company could do for us. Whilst in the showroom my wife made it clear that she didn’t cook and I was the person who spent most of the time in the kitchen and would therefore be the one the Director needed to “sell” to.
When she came round she proceeded to ignore me and talk to my wife about what she wanted in a new kitchen. Knowing the correct process it was quite amusing to watch as my wife again explained that she wasn’t the decision maker and didn’t have as much emotional attachment to the kitchen as me, only for the Director to continue to sideline me in the conversation much to my wife’s increasing frustration. Eventually the Director got the message and engaged me in the conversation and we were both able to describe the type of kitchen we wanted, and the company director got a sense of what was important to me.
A week later we received the proposed plans for the new kitchen together with the price. We had spoken to three Kitchen companies in total, two who had provided us with what we wanted, together with a few amendments of their own, and the third from the company in question which was completely different to what we wanted. Although their price was the cheapest they lost the order because of her inability to sell to the right person and then compounded the error by recommending a product that didn’t match our needs.
I think the message in Body Language Secrets about understanding body language and pychology and their place in the sales process is very accurate and important. They do both have a vital role to play in the successful outcome of the sales process but if you don’t sell to the right person this can lead to frustration for you and the customer and a subsequent break down in the relationship.
The question you need to ask yourself when going to see a client is “will I be speaking to the MAN?” If you’re not you won’t be getting a decision to buy on the day and you need to alter the structure of your call accordingly. If you are in a call with a number people, do not focus on just one person, each person in the meeting is there for a reason and will have some influence in the decision making process, even if they are not ultimately responsible for the final decision.