Fair Deal Dan
Are you a product pusher or a problem solver?
Does anyone remember "Fair Deal Dan" from the Munsters? If you are under 30-Google it…He was the slick used car salesman that would say anything to get the sale. Honest Abe, of course, refers to Abraham Lincoln, and history tells us that from the days he managed a country store, to other endeavors he would undertake for others, he was honest, civil, and ready to do anything that should encourage customers to come to engage with patience, pleasantries, and sincere attention.
Take a step back for a second, ant think about your sales approach. How do you sound on sales calls? Is your “sales pitch” product focused or customer focused? Think about it. As passionate salespeople, we are always excited about sharing information about what makes our hotel the best, most exciting product ever. As a new salesperson, I recall zealously feature-dumping to customers, who couldn’t get a word in edgewise over my enthusiastic approach!
But wait! I was being a product pusher - all about me and mine. Then, I had an interaction with a car salesman that made me step back and think about my approach. I was 8 months pregnant, July in the California Central Valley (meaning hot!), and I needed a new car. The first salesman I spoke to insisted he had the “perfect” car for me. He walked me to the other side of the lot (again 8 months pregnant, and not hiding under a winter coat!) What did he show me? A two-seater, convertible, stick shift, Mazda Miata! And he proceeded to tell me about all the bells and whistles .. and then opened the door for me to sit and “try it on”! Needless to say, he didn’t get the sale. Instead, the next car salesman at a different dealership, immediately asked me to sit down, and offered me a bottle of water. Then he said “tell me what you need today …” I felt seen, and I admit this has stuck with me and changed my approach with customers.
Point to Ponder – Of course, if I was walking into that car dealership today, I probably would already have a vehicle in mind. In this age of internet access, we know that 60-80% of the research process is done before a customer interacts with a salesperson. The customer knows about your bells and whistles, and all the fabulous things that make up your hotel. What a customer needs is a solution. A partner to share the buying journey.
While we don't have David Spade around to help us identify our sales strengths and weaknesses, we should all do a bit of reflection like our friend Tommy Callahan (AKA Chris Farley):
Do you talk too much? Salespeople have been stereotyped as Big Talkers. Over promise, and under deliver. Fair Deal Dan strikes again! Be sure you are really listening to understand, not just listening to respond. That first car salesman I met with just kept talking , but I stopped listening early on and felt like I was just waiting for him to stop so I could get a word in edgewise (like are you crazy?!”) Not really hearing to understand. Only a small percentage of customers think conversations with salespeople are relevant. This tells me there is a lot of Fair Deal Dans out there – and you have a tremendous opportunity to get it right!
Think Different. Sound Different. Sell Different. To avoid sounding like every other Fair Deal Dan out there, you must differentiate how you think, sound, and sell. You don’t want to sound like every other salesperson. The customer starts to hear Charlie Brown’s teacher “mwah-mwah-mwah”. This may be habit breaking for some; or for those that are newer to sales, an opportunity to get it right from the start. To make this point, another personal experience was when my husband and I were bed shopping – the salesperson started off with “my job is to ensure you have a good night’s sleep”. Sound different?
Instead of probing the buyer with questions (as per the traditional solution selling approach), sales professionals must come to the table prepared to be a proactive source of value for customers. In the previous example, doesn’t everyone want a good night’s sleep?
Emotions drive customer decision-making. How you uncover and capitalize on customers emotional motivators will dictate your success. That’s why Steve Jobs spent as much time on “insanely great design” as technology, and marketed to customer emotions. The lowest price is not always the real customer motivator. Your conversations will sound and feel differently when you start with the emotional motivators, addressing pain points with solutions. People buy based on emotions, and then justify it with logic -the Emotional Brain is 24 times stronger than the Logical Brain!
Every business must have a repeatable process. Successful salespeople have a repeatable process they follow. Put structure in place, document the processes, and track progress. Have a system. It will help build consistency in your conversations.
So, before you pick up that million-pound phone to start a conversation, prepare and practice your approach so you can sound like Honest Abe!