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Are You Selling Ideas?

Never more than now do I realize it is a time for selling ideas. Prospects are smarter, well read, and in the know. You can no longer walk into a prospects business and say let me sell you an advertising schedule. You have to walk in prepared. Prepared to fulfill a need and give the prospect ideas he hasnít heard before and will not hear from the next media sales rep coming in behind you. The days of order taking are gone and if you plan to stay in the game you had better learn the old, new rules. In this day of business we have got to be quicker, smarter, tougher, stronger and more creative.

You must take that extra few minutes and research your prospects industry. Look for ways that "may" have worked in the past. Then, be bold with your suggestions, and do not be afraid to try new ideas. Brain storm with your prospect and get his ideas. Lets face it, no one else will know his business better than he does. Get him involved with his commercial ideas by revving up his own creative juices. This will give him ownership to what you are doing. I am a believer in allowing the client face time in "his" commercial. This not only gives him ownership but branding. I cannot STRESS enough how absolutely vital it is that you Listen, Listen, Listen to what your prospect is telling you is best for his business. If you are listening to what he is telling you he is no longer a prospect but a client! - by MPrince
Lets face it, no one else will know his business better than he does.
I always admire and value your posts and this is no exception.

I often suspect, though, that many business owners do not know their business as well as they should.

That creates an obstacle for the salesperson. It would be fatal to convey that even if it is apparent. We need common ground to get the prospect moving forward in his/her thinking. A good selling process founded on engagement, mutual trust and respect, and sincere intent, can produce not only that common ground, but broaden the prospect's perspective and transcend natural and common resistance. - by Ace Coldiron
This is where a good sales person comes in...you put forth an idea in such a way that it appears to be the client's. Again, this comes from listening, knowing the clients business and knowing what he wants and what should be accomplished. If you have built that bridge of trust he will walk across. - by MPrince
In my industry (search engine optimization), I usually have to prepare 1+ hours for my prospect before my pitch, since their need and keywords are so different. But I think they really like this style and would like to buy from someone who is willing to prepare and did a good homework - by SEO-Tampa
Never more than now do I realize it is a time for selling ideas. Prospects are smarter, well read, and in the know. You can no longer walk into a prospects business and say let me sell you an advertising schedule. You have to walk in prepared. Prepared to fulfill a need and give the prospect ideas he hasn’t heard before and will not hear from the next media sales rep coming in behind you. The days of order taking are gone and if you plan to stay in the game you had better learn the old, new rules. In this day of business we have got to be quicker, smarter, tougher, stronger and more creative.

You must take that extra few minutes and research your prospects industry. Look for ways that "may" have worked in the past. Then, be bold with your suggestions, and do not be afraid to try new ideas. Brain storm with your prospect and get his ideas. Lets face it, no one else will know his business better than he does. Get him involved with his commercial ideas by revving up his own creative juices. This will give him ownership to what you are doing. I am a believer in allowing the client face time in "his" commercial. This not only gives him ownership but branding. I cannot STRESS enough how absolutely vital it is that you Listen, Listen, Listen to what your prospect is telling you is best for his business. If you are listening to what he is telling you he is no longer a prospect but a client!
Hi Mary/Martha.... :)

Who could disagree.... Mothers and Apple Pie.... yummy... :)

Aloha.... Tom - by rattus58
This is especially true in my industry(printing). Gone are the days when a client would order 10,000 catalogs or custom letterhead. Now they put the catalog online and print the letterheads themselves.

Printing has turned into a cutthroat business with things like flyers and business cards taking up much of the pie. But who really wants to be stuck doing runs of 250 business cards for 100,000 people? We've had to be creative to survive, there is no doubt. New products and unique ideas are what this industry needs. I think packaging and marketing are still key players and hopefully always will be. - by Thufir
This is especially true in my industry(printing). Gone are the days when a client would order 10,000 catalogs or custom letterhead. Now they put the catalog online and print the letterheads themselves.

Printing has turned into a cutthroat business with things like flyers and business cards taking up much of the pie. But who really wants to be stuck doing runs of 250 business cards for 100,000 people? We've had to be creative to survive, there is no doubt. New products and unique ideas are what this industry needs. I think packaging and marketing are still key players and hopefully always will be.
Thufir

Anyone can print a card but only "you" have "your" ideas. Only you can involve the client, listen to his concerns and bring his/your ideas to LIFE. - by MPrince
Hi Mary/Martha.... :)

Who could disagree.... Mothers and Apple Pie.... yummy... :)

Aloha.... Tom
I thought it was Baseball and Apple Pie...

Thanks My Friend! - by MPrince
In my industry (search engine optimization), I usually have to prepare 1+ hours for my prospect before my pitch, since their need and keywords are so different. But I think they really like this style and would like to buy from someone who is willing to prepare and did a good homework
SEO-Tampa

I'm sure you have no idea just how much your prospects and clients appreciate your hard work. Keep it up. It will serve you well. There is one thing I would suggest you do for existing clients.

Google News Alerts for all the industries you service. You can get daily or weekly updates on anything going on in their industry. You will get a lot of junk and you will have to skim through but you can do it fairly quickly. It gives you talking points or will give you a reason to go by, print it off and send a hand written note such as:

Dear Client,

I found this information in my research and felt it would be important to you.



I try to do this often and my clients seem to really appreciate it. Many times I find things they didn't know.

Best Regards - by MPrince
Thufir

Anyone can print a card but only "you" have "your" ideas. Only you can involve the client, listen to his concerns and bring his/your ideas to LIFE.

True, but printing business cards isn't going to keep me in business. Printing is becoming obsolete. The problem isn't about listening to the client, the problem is finding clients to listen to.

This is why many newspapers are going out of business. Ideas are what they need but it might be too late with the internet taking up all of their business.

I am managing but it is difficult. I keep my ideas close to my vest and secret. This si how I will survive.....hopefully. - by Thufir
The internet is not a living breathing person. The internet is a thing and with all it's wonderful avenues it still cannot fill your position. You have the upper-hand! - by MPrince
I believe that the relationship sales model is the best way to go.

By letting your prospect become more involved in the sales process you are setting yourself up for repeat business. - by salesfist
Hello Martha. I suppose I'm lucky because the new rules you've described are my "old rules". ;) - by Jeff Blackwell
Great Thread.

I have found since I have been going business to business people generally do not like to be sold, but they love to buy.
Empowering them to become part of the prospect to client process is quite a challenge however it does come back to the good old adage "Identify a prospect from a suspect!"
I agree with the whole building a relationship thing...that is incredible!

If being creative is the same as thinking outside the square I agree ... I am working on an incredible idea using the power of the internet as a prospecting tool that involves the facilitation, collaborative process.

Cheers'
Chris - by teknacool
Hello Martha. I suppose I'm lucky because the new rules you've described are my "old rules". ;)
Yes Jeff you are exactly right...it is the "old/new rules". The problem is we often must be reminded to simply, go back to the basics. - by MPrince
If being creative is the same as thinking outside the square I agree ... I am working on an incredible idea using the power of the internet as a prospecting tool that involves the facilitation, collaborative process.

Yes Chris...that is what it means. Looking for new and unique ways to get to your sales destination. That is how superstars are born! - by MPrince
The days of order taking are gone and if you plan to stay in the game you had better learn the new rules. In this day of business we have got to be quicker, smarter, tougher, stronger and more creative.
Order taking days are over, and most companies don't remember/know what it means to 'sell'. It isn't just doing your presentation and having a nice suit or lovely smile and hair. Now more than ever you have to be listening to your prospect to hear his problems and focus on how you can help them resolve their problems. They will tell you what they need and are willing to buy, if you listen to them....that means asking questions and talking less. - by Paulette Halpern
The days of order taking are gone and if you plan to stay in the game you had better learn the new rules. In this day of business we have got to be quicker, smarter, tougher, stronger and more creative .......

Take that extra few minutes and research your prospects industry!
Two terms I very seldom use that appear quite frequently in discussions here are order taking and solutions.

I'll break that rule now by mentioning something about what "order taker" really means without looking down my nose at people who fit that category.

Order takers offer options. Professionals who sell offer solutions. Order taking is the very nature of what some occupations require as a function. Nothing wrong with that. It is what it is. - by Gary A Boye
This thread reminds me of something I once read in a book on sales written in 1920:

"The selling process is making the prospect think what the salesman thinks regarding the line of goods or the proposition presented. It is a process of transferring mental images from the mind of the salesman to the mind of the prospect. And throughout the process the salesman should be the impelling party. If a man buys something from you for reasons of his own, which you did not stimulate in him, you are not entitled to say that you sold him the order. He bought. We are not considering here so-called sales which are closed principally because the buyer was looking for what the salesman brought him. We shall study the bona fide sale in which the salesman gets his ideas across to the mind of the prospect, against more or less resistance. Right here let us make a distinction. You do not sell goods; but ideas about goods. In many cases the goods themselves are not delivered until after the sale is completed." - by Jeff Blackwell
Right here let us make a distinction. You do not sell goods; but ideas about goods. In many cases the goods themselves are not delivered until after the sale is completed."

Jeff...you are right or, it can be an intangible product and the only way to sell it is through your creative ideas. By getting the prospect involved, talking, offering...your ideas become "his" ideas. - by MPrince
Right here let us make a distinction. You do not sell goods; but ideas about goods. In many cases the goods themselves are not delivered until after the sale is completed."

Jeff...you are right or, it can be an intangible product and the only way to sell it is through your creative ideas. By getting the prospect involved, talking, offering...your ideas become "his" ideas.
In B2B, commodities are often bought out of the very real need for sustanance.

People take orders for those commodities, and some of those people make a lot of money. They have positioned themselves to be the source. Where does the "idea" lie in those cases?

That question is not meant as a challenge; it's merely asked to create a larger picture for this discussion. - by Gary A Boye
Gary, Could ,would the idea be that they are The Source? - by rich34232
In B2B, commodities are often bought out of the very real need for sustanance.

People take orders for those commodities, and some of those people make a lot of money. They have positioned themselves to be the source. Where does the "idea" lie in those cases?

That question is not meant as a challenge; it's merely asked to create a larger picture for this discussion.
I would like a clarification. I am not quite sure what your question is. Are you asking about the sales person that has positioned themselves as a source for their client? Or, are you asking where the ideas lie that the Sales Executive must create to fit each clients particular needs? Without knowing truly what you mean by your question it is hard to answer. - by MPrince
Gary, Could ,would the idea be that they are The Source?
Yes, Rich, that's where I'm heading on this. In my opinion, "order taking" can be the result of some successful strategic ground work. What often seems easy in so many activities is merely the result of some really good--and hard--work that came before. - by Gary A Boye
I would like a clarification. I am not quite sure what your question is. Are you asking about the sales person that has positioned themselves as a source for their client? Or, are you asking where the ideas lie that the Sales Executive must create to fit each clients particular needs? Without knowing truly what you mean by your question it is hard to answer.
I love your questions. I always talk about Intrinsic Questions, and those are examples. My answer is both.

Sometimes the all important Proposition remains ongoing. And in those venues of selling, what we label "order taking" is really the result of earning the "position." - by Gary A Boye
This thread reminds me of something I once read in a book on sales written in 1920:

"The selling process is making the prospect think what the salesman thinks regarding the line of goods or the proposition presented. It is a process of transferring mental images from the mind of the salesman to the mind of the prospect. And throughout the process the salesman should be the impelling party. If a man buys something from you for reasons of his own, which you did not stimulate in him, you are not entitled to say that you sold him the order. He bought. We are not considering here so-called sales which are closed principally because the buyer was looking for what the salesman brought him. We shall study the bona fide sale in which the salesman gets his ideas across to the mind of the prospect, against more or less resistance. Right here let us make a distinction. You do not sell goods; but ideas about goods. In many cases the goods themselves are not delivered until after the sale is completed."

Very good post. In fact, we never sell any-"thing"--it is impossible. Rather, we sell the symbolic meaning of the "thing."

The moment of the buy/sell exchange occurs, there is a mental shift between conceptual "release of ownership" and "new ownership."

Imagine you are in a grocery store and someone accidentally grabs our cart? Apologies and embaracement follows by the transgressor yet, the store still owned the cart and everything in it. As far as your concerned, the store released ownership of what is in the cart and the absent minded shopper agreed!

Seasoned sales people such as yourself, understand this mental transition well but it takes time to master the insight. - by John Voris
The moment of the buy/sell exchange occurs, there is a mental shift between conceptual "release of ownership" and "new ownership."

Love This!!! - by MPrince
Exactly true that in order to sell intangibles you must be able to deal in abstracts and ideas. Just as in all facets of business, collaboration allows for mutual benefits to be realized so that both parties are satisfied. You are the professional as a sales person who will guide your buyer through the sales process. The biggest idea you are selling is yourself as that professional. Your customer could go with anyone else...but since you are demonstrating how you are the obvious and only choice, they will believe it and hopefully refer you business. So it takes lots of persuasive ability and above all belief in your own abilities. - by Guru4sale
Right here let us make a distinction. You do not sell goods; but ideas about goods. In many cases the goods themselves are not delivered until after the sale is completed."

Jeff...you are right or, it can be an intangible product and the only way to sell it is through your creative ideas. By getting the prospect involved, talking, offering...your ideas become "his" ideas.
Yes, we never sell the "thing" but what the "thing" means. This is what symbolism is all about and what is essential to cover in any selling education format.

Symbolism also explains why prospects are often not buying what the sales rep truly believes he or she is selling. This disconnect is most often caused by the foundation of sales training being based on observable criteria. - by John Voris
Exactly true that in order to sell intangibles you must be able to deal in abstracts and ideas. Just as in all facets of business, collaboration allows for mutual benefits to be realized so that both parties are satisfied. You are the professional as a sales person who will guide your buyer through the sales process. The biggest idea you are selling is yourself as that professional. Your customer could go with anyone else...but since you are demonstrating how you are the obvious and only choice, they will believe it and hopefully refer you business. So it takes lots of persuasive ability and above all belief in your own abilities.
The idea is that you become a "source" for your client. You do that by asking questions and listening, listening, listening. By asking questions and listening you are allowing the prospect to tell you everything you need to know. You then build a bridge of trust between you and the client. When that happens your client will have no need to go with someone else because he totally trusts you and your opinion. And, why would he trust your opinion? Because you have Asked Questions, Listened and Acted on what he has said it would take to make him happy. Because you had enough respect for your clients opinion, wants, needs and desires that you took the time to hear them. To me it is so very simple. Maybe to simple for some. I see sales, be it tangible or intangible, as an act of mutual respect and trust between two people. At least that is my opinion. - by MPrince
I see sales, be it tangible or intangible, as an act of mutual respect and trust between two people. At least that is my opinion.
Hello Martha :)

If I was to pick the three areas in selling that I felt a student would benefit most from mastering they would be:
  1. Relationship (E.g.; trust and respect)
  2. Communication (E.g.; language and symbolism)
  3. Behavior (E.g.; decision-making process).
- by Jeff Blackwell
If I was to pick the three areas in selling that I felt a student would benefit most from mastering they would be:
  1. Relationship (E.g.; trust and respect)
  2. Communication (E.g.; language and symbolism)
  3. Behavior (E.g.; decision-making process).
Jeff

I completely agree with all three points. You build a relationship through "mutual" trust and respect. This has to happen through the right kind of communication(which is a lesson in itself). Paint a picture through language and symbolism then leads to a decision. - by MPrince
Jeff

I completely agree with all three points. You build a relationship through "mutual" trust and respect. This has to happen through the right kind of communication(which is a lesson in itself). Paint a picture through language and symbolism then leads to a decision.
We are on the same page. thmbp2;

If you are interested, the last piece of my "3-1 Outline" (working title) is Perceptiveness (E.g.; acumen, discernment, insight). msnwnk; - by Jeff Blackwell
I am interested Jeff...Thank you! - by MPrince
Jeff

I completely agree with all three points. You build a relationship through "mutual" trust and respect. This has to happen through the right kind of communication(which is a lesson in itself). Paint a picture through language and symbolism then leads to a decision.

Again Martha, very well said.

It is the profound dynamics of language as symbolic meaning, that is ultimately responsible for communication. This is a major issue which is generally missing in sales training today.

Traditional sales seminars, tend to focus on behavior presented in rigid models of technique or relationship building. While they both have importance, they are preceded by effective communication.

What if through communication: you knew what truly motivated your prospect; how valuable would that be; how would that change your relationship and; how differently would you behave? - by John Voris
We are on the same page. thmbp2;

If you are interested, the last piece of my "3-1 Outline" (working title) is Perceptiveness (E.g.; acumen, discernment, insight). msnwnk;
I am always interested in a real paradigm shift and this approach could easily qualify.

Today, we are still using sales models and techniques that are over 35 years old and older. They are just re-worked with a new face attached.

Imagine the medical world operating today having nothing new since 1975?

Comparing sales training against most other professions, we are still in the cave marking walls. Yet, experienced sales people are getting the job done. Is this yet another disconnect? - by John Voris
What if through communication: you knew what truly motivated your prospect; how valuable would that be; how would that change your relationship and; how differently would you behave?
John...thank you for your incredible insight. You have summed up in this one paragraph my whole philosophy of selling. It is completely possible to know, through communication (asking questions and listening) what truly motivates your prospect/client. It is only human nature for people to tell you everything you want to know if you ask and "listen". - by MPrince
John...thank you for your incredible insight. You have summed up in this one paragraph my whole philosophy of selling. It is completely possible to know, through communication (asking questions and listening) what truly motivates your prospect/client. It is only human nature for people to tell you everything you want to know if you ask and "listen".

Thank you for your generous comment but it was in reaction to someone who has an excellent grip on the humanitarian aspect of selling.

IMO, anyone who follows your advice will surly benefit ;bg - by John Voris
Today, we are still using sales models and techniques that are over 35 years old and older.
Hi John. sn;

For me, age of technique or sales model is not a selection criteria or indicator of value. I am concerned with what works. ;wi - by Jeff Blackwell
Hello Martha :)

If I was to pick the three areas in selling that I felt a student would benefit most from mastering they would be:
  1. Relationship (E.g.; trust and respect)
  2. Communication (E.g.; language and symbolism)
  3. Behavior (E.g.; decision-making process).
I will humbly throw my hat in the ring and share my deepest core belief about selling. I do so with the utmost admiration for the people presently engaged on this subtopic. First, however, I want to say that I also believe with all my heart that it is significantly more important in selling to identify OPPORTUNITIES than to spend too much time identifying behavior. Sales training concentrates a lot on the latter. Real life top producers search mostly for opportunities.

Now my deepest core belief--one which I filter all new information through:
There are FOUR THINGS that determine our success in selling.

Four Things

Every potential customer you meet is comparing the EXPERIENCE they have with you to the experiences they have with others. Your success in selling comes from making the other experiences pale by comparison.

INTRINSIC QUESTIONS are the building blocks of a sale.

PREPAREDNESS is the most important skill in selling.

CLOSING is a progression of consent.
Not so complicated, really? - by Gary A Boye
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