Lead With the Outcome: What the Customer Wants

‘Lead, Sell or Get Out of the Way’ Excerpt # 3

Decide on the ‘what’ before the ‘how’    

You Sell Ideas Like all effective leaders, top-producing salespeople sell ideas. They look for ways to find and improve the outcomes that their customers are seeking, and they start by talking about the “what.”  What are customers looking for?  As a leader, you must determine the “what” before the “how”—the “how” comes second. Your products and services represent the “how,” which means that they are not what you should be starting the conversation with. Read that again: You should not start the conversation on your products and services—even though you may have received vast amounts of technical training and even though you may know the “how” of your product and service like the back of your hand. If you start the conversation with the “how,” you will leave out the most important part of the conversation, namely, the outcomes you are going to produce together. These may sound like obvious points, but the sad truth is that salespeople ignore them routinely. Beginning with the “how” guarantees that your conversation will be short and will produce little to no forward movement in the sales process. You may not even be given the opportunity to discuss the prospect’s goals or the outcomes you hope to produce with him or her. Imagine how many sales meetings initiated by that fashion designer ended abruptly because of some sudden emergency that came up while she was soliloquizing about her many designs.  People tend to have very short attention spans these days. They have a lot on their mind, and the higher up they are on the food chain the less time they have for things that don’t demonstrate immediate value to them. That’s why we must prove in the first few seconds of a conversation that there is a reason someone should give us their undivided attention and their time. Initiating a conversation by discussing the outcomesas a leader does—makes all the difference when it comes to winning attention, winning time, closing more deals, expanding the size of the deal, and increasing margins. Launching the conversation in a different way allows you to lay the foundation for a value proposition that is second to none. To order the book on line, go to http://tinyurl.com/cgw2gg Lead with the Outcome! Immediately focusing on the “how” limits your conversation with a potential customer strictly to features—features that most customers will think—correctly or incorrectly—that they have heard and seen elsewhere. There is little or no room there for differentiation! By leading with the outcome—as a true sales leader would—you can expand the conversation to other issues, issues that involve a larger piece of the pie. As the conversation expands, more and more opportunities will become available. These opportunities can lead to the sale of other goods and services. For example, let’s say that you are selling pool products to a homeowner who wants a new pump. You might be tempted to start talking about the features of your very best pool pump. Suppose you were to ask the homeowner what he or she would want from the new pump that the old pump didn’t provide. The homeowner might think for a moment, then answer, “No downtime, better energy efficiency, and lower operating costs.”  When you ask the potential customer to explain their reasons for wanting these features, you might hear a story of how the existing pump used to break down — typically on a hot summer da
y — and how the whole family would have to wait for the service rep to come
and repair it. The use of the pool would be interrupted for days, and there would be a hefty repair bill to deal with. Armed with this information, you can now talk about the ideas and outcomes that are most likely to make a difference to this buyer: Fewer breakdowns and lower bills! You could offer proof of your pump’s energy efficiency and reliability, in the form of awards and articles praising its performance in these areas. You could then explain that your company offers a special extended warranty on the pump. This extended warranty is designed to reduce the risk of having downtime in the future, and it will also give the customer automatic top priority on service calls without costing a cent more on the repair bill. You have just engaged your customer and secured his full, undivided attention; every point you make is now landing with impact. You have just dramatically increased your chances of getting the deal, and you’ve done so by talking about the outcomes first. You may even have added to the size of the deal by introducing other products that support the outcomes that the customer is trying to attain. At the end of the day, the customer is not buying a pump at all. The customer is actually buying uninterrupted pool time, reduced energy costs, and a lower cost of operation. Those are outcomes! This is exactly what Hayward Pool Products, the number one manufacturer of residential pool pumps, trains its dealers to do. And that, along with a great product, is why they are one of the leaders in their industry. —— Excerpted with permission of the publisher John Wiley & Sons, Inc. (www.wiley.com) from Lead, Sell or Get Out of the Way: The 7 Traits of Great Sellers by Ron Karr.  Copyright © 2009 by Ron Karr.   To order the book on line, go to http://tinyurl.com/cgw2gg

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