“We do not convince people to buy an idea or thing, but rather we simply uncover and relate to their needs and their needs only.”
That’s the advice of management consultant Kevin Catlin, owner at Insight Strategies, Inc., in his article “The best sales advice I ever got was from a surfer dude.”
Recounting his experience searching for a better backpack, Catlin describes two encounters at local outdoor stores.
The first one, at a popular big box retailer, turned him off when the sales person zeroed in on him in the backpack aisle and rattled off a scripted spiel of the latest facts. It was information overload for Catlin and failed to meet his needs, which the sales person didn’t bother to ascertain.
The second encounter, at a local independent shop, proved to be refreshingly successful. The sales person (a.k.a. “surfer dude”) started by swapping hiking stories. In this simple relational approach, the surfer dude discovered where Catlin like to hike and what issues he faced when hiking, which led Catlin to open up about specific problems with his current backpack. The surfer dude intuitively knew (because he knew his own products) which solution was best for his new friend (a.k.a. “customer”). (Read his entire article here.)
Relationships are like that. You don’t just dump on the other person all the good things you have to offer them. You take the time to discover who they are, what they like, and where they face challenges. The good things will come out naturally because your focus is on making them better.
That’s true in business, too. If our focus is on making our clients better, we’re going to take the time to discover what makes them tick. If we want to be successful on a company project, we will foster relationships with our team to better understand their perspectives so that we can all succeed.
Surfer dude described his approach like this:
“I don’t sell” he said, “I just took my father’s advice and find out what people want, what they love about hiking or the outdoors, what their interests are, then I show’em things that work for what they want.”
Do you really know what they want? If you’re not sure, start investing in that relationship today.