Several years ago I had the opportunity of watching a video entitled, Celebrating Steve, a celebration of the life of Steve Jobs.

 All the Apple stores worldwide were closed in order to allow their employees an opportunity to watch the celebration originating from the Apple Campus in Cupertino, California.  Steve made a singularly unique contribution to the world, one that has allowed the masses to enjoy the simple joy of bonding with technology. People who use Apple products truly love their devices.  Steve was a pioneer in his approach to sales through his ability to produce and sell products that people wanted and enjoyed using. He listened to the cry of the people to intuitively embrace technology and in a simple, yet beautiful way, making it a part of their lives.

My grandchildren have grown up with the iPhone, iPad, iMac, and the MacBook Pro as though these electronic tools were just part of everyday life, like breathing.  Simple, powerful and life changing in their ability to communicate in ways my generation could only dream. Along with all the other accolades given to Steve Jobs and the comparisons to the great visionaries of our time, Steve will also be acknowledged as one of the greatest salespeople of our generation.  Why you might ask? Wasn’t he an inventor with an innate ability to produce those products the masses embraced? Absolutely, and that is what made him such a great salesperson. He listened to what the people wanted and then created, produced and finally sold them.

Too often salespeople focus on selling what they have, persuading the buyer that they need the products they represent.  To me, that is “selling ice to Eskimos”, selling something that is not needed in order to generate a self centered profit at the expense of another person’s situation.  Selling needs to be squarely focused on solving the problems and needs of the buyer, not with just any product or service, but rather, the “right” product or service. For the honest professional in our occupation, no one should know with greater clarity how to better relieve a buyer’s pain than a salesperson.  Their career should be devoted to understanding and solving the needs, wants and desires of customers and prospects.

Steve Jobs forever changed the world, regardless of whether you’re a PC or a Mac proponent.  He diagnosed the needs of the masses and provided insanely wonderful solutions - solutions that not only solved problems, but also made Apple the wealthiest company in the world.  By placing the proper solution to the problem first, the company created spectacular wealth. Companies and salespeople that sell products which don’t solve the customer’s problems will never achieve the wealth they are seeking.  Selling is all about the customer; they are the reason companies and salespeople exist. If you want to become the best salesperson you possibly can become, learn to first diagnose the needs of the prospect and then present your product as the solution to their needs, assuming that your product is the right solution.  If it is not the right solution, then with all the integrity you can muster, offer a recommendation for a product that can solve the problem, and then move on.

Thank you, Steve Jobs for your technological contribution to the world and for your problem-solving example for salespeople everywhere.