The difference between victory and defeat can be measured in increments so small that no one would believe it could make a difference.
A horse race is won by a nose. A baseball game won by just one hit. A basketball game won by a last second shot. A football game won by just one catch. Yet, those small differences typically determine the outcome. Water is flowing at thirty-three degrees and is solid at thirty-two. A five-gallon bucket of water poured from ten feet onto your head will make you wet, but a five-gallon block of ice dropped from the same elevation will kill you. Just one degree in temperature is the difference between wet and dead. In sales, as in life, it is not the big things that make the difference; it is the small things.
What I’m going to share with you today is just that, a small thing. This thing is so small that most salespeople miss it and those who get it right don’t even know what they are doing that is right. This profound, principle is extremely simple and everyone can do it. However, most salespeople assume they are applying this principle, when in reality, they are not. This principle is similar to connecting the dots in a “paint by number” painting. In selling, you must connect the dots to be infinitely successful. The dots we want to connect are the dots between the prospects NEEDS and the salesperson’s SOLUTION. The principle you apply to accomplish this activity is called THE DIALOGUE.
I learned this principle the hard way many years ago as a young salesperson. There were times when I clearly identified the prospect’s need through effective questioning and then was skilled and sometimes lucky enough the present the solution with bold clarity. I had the perfect product to meet the needs of the prospect at the right time and the right price and with the right level of customer service. My skills combined with the stars aligning perfectly, gave me the upper hand only to be utterly shocked at losing the sale to an inferior solution. Why? I asked myself. Everything was pointing my direction. I shouldn’t have lost the sale, but I did. This same situation happened more than once until I analyzed carefully what I was doing. The answer to losing these sales was simple and yet profound. I wasn’t connecting the dots. What dots you ask, the dots between the need and the solution.
I was assuming the prospect could clearly see how my solution would specifically solve their need. Sometimes they draw the connection, but don’t bet on it. The right solution can be presented without the prospect seeing the connection to solving the need. The salesperson needs to connect the dots by creating a DIALOGUE. The dialogue is the one-degree of activity that can make the difference between winning and losing a sale. You must specifically discuss with the prospect and ask for their input and response to each detail of the solution and how it will solve each element of the need. In the process, the prospect will share more information and together you will fine tune and tweak the solution. During the course of your dialogue, you will go deeper into the discovery of the need and the solution than any other salesperson has gone. You will gain the trust and confidence of the prospect through your combined understanding of the need and the solution. They will respect your insight and chose to work with you because you were willing to discuss with them the specific details of solving their problem.
Dialogue is a simple, yet profound principle. We have all seen this principle played out in the movies. It goes something like this: The man is in love with the woman and she is likewise, madly in love with him. Circumstances are such that neither is able to tell the other of their feelings. They eventually go their separate ways, living a life of shallow relationships, always longing for the love that passed them by.
Don’t let sales pass you by. Don’t be longing for the sale that got away. Connect the dots between needs and solutions with a dialogue. Until you and the prospect have discussed specifically how your solution will solve each aspect of their need, you will neither have the understanding nor the relationship necessary to make the sale.