What Are We Hiding?

Celebrating the sales process

The encounter I’m going to relate showed some very strong elements of a great sales process. I saw a well executed sales procedure, evidence of good sales training, good salesmanship and good sales management systems.

I think the thing that hit me the hardest was the fact that the people in this company were so open and honest about their sales procedure, as though they had nothing to hide. This openness allowed me to let my guard down as a customer. I knew they were trying to make a sale, and I was perfectly okay with it.

Allow me to set the scene: One of our clients has a rather disjointed cashiering system; I am also aware that an unnamed chain of music stores has an excellent system, so I went into one of their stores near my house to check it out. The following is an account of what I experienced when I walked through their door. Remember, I arrived to simply observe.

Within a matter of seconds, I was greeted by half a dozen smiling faces, all equipped with a warm, friendly, natural sounding but uncannily similar greeting. I was asked by one particular employee if I had come in to look at anything specific, and when I responded that I hadn’t, he announced that he would help me get my bearings by giving me a quick tour of the place. We ended up in the pro audio room where they keep all the big sound reinforcement systems. The salesperson again announced his intentions and sort of set the agenda for what was next by saying, "Let me give you a few minutes to look around, and I’ll be right back to help you with any questions."

I thought his whole approach was really very cool. He simply told me through his words and actions that he knew what I was there to do, that it was his job to help me do it and that he fully intended to do so. This guy was so comfortable with his sales procedure that he was not only not hiding it from me, he was letting me in on it.

When he came back, he asked me questions, he listened to my answers, he showed me a few things he thought I might like based on those answers, starting with the lower priced stuff in the category and then moving up in price until the point when I asked, "How much?" Then he gave me a comprehensive presentation of the system he thought I liked the most and calmly and unobtrusively asked me to buy it. When I hesitated, he simply asked me some more questions, listened some more and then formulated a "Magic Question" (If I could, would ya?) based on my objections and asked me to buy again by using that question. He was operating so naturally, I was blown away. I wanted one; he wanted me to have one; he made no bones about it.

When I looked to Mrs. Hackett for approval and got none, (you married guys know the look!) I told him that we would have to wait until I got home from my next road trip before I could fit it in the budget. He then announced that he would like to put me into his follow-up system so that he could get in touch with me when I returned.

Again, he had absolutely nothing to hide from me. He even took me behind the counter and explained how their follow-up system worked as he entered my information into the computer. It was designed much like our day planner system in that the manager would help determine the next action to be taken, hold daily meetings with each salesperson to help them plan how to best complete those actions and get reports as to how each customer was treated, how far they got through the buying process and what the final results were. Now, the coolest part: He did all of this before he knew that I was in sales training; once he found that out, he made absolutely no changes in his approach. He was so confident with his sales procedure, that he was okay with me knowing that he was working a sales procedure.

I think the reason I could see what was happening was because he had no reason to hide what was happening. He was trying to help me get the sound system I wanted, so what’s to hide? By showing me his follow-up system, he was telling me that he wanted me to have one when I’m ready, and when I am, he wants me to buy it from him. And it was working!

My wife and I wandered around the showroom for a few minutes trying to figure out a way to shuffle some money around to make this thing happen. I know this doesn’t sound like anything too remarkable, but let me remind you of something: I went in the place to observe a cashiering system, and suddenly I was trying to buy a sound system.

As salespeople, all too often we try to hide the fact that we want the customers to buy something from us. What these guys did so amazingly well was what I try to preach all the time: He wants one and I want him to have one. So why do we try to hide the fact that we want our customers to have one and that we have a process for helping them get one? Is it just me?

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