Sales is about collecting information, not giving it

Recently, I was the victim of a walking, talking brochure.  A sales rep and I met at a local restaurant to see if there was a way to work together. Without warning,  I was swept away by an apocalyptic tsunami of his product knowledge. As I was tumbling like a rag doll in a tornado of industry jargon, I desperately kept looking for a way out.  I was waiting for him to take a breath, sip his water, choke on a peanut…ANYTHING that would give me an opportunity to get a word in edgewise.

Alas, the opportunity never arose. It wasn’t long before the sound of his voice transformed into the trumpet-like waa waa waa of Charlie Browns teacher.  As much as I tried to pay attention, I just couldn’t.  Instead my mind focused on ways to exit this meeting as quickly as possible.  I scanned my environment for weapons of opportunity…perhaps I could spill my piping hot coffee in my lap…or somehow pretend to accidentally jab my steak knife into my eye. (I have two eyes…I could spare one)

Across the room, I could see a server carrying a tray with some flaming concoction sizzling and smoking, emitting a wonderful aroma.  I prayed to the gods of mercy that the server would walk by our table, trip, and douse me with flames so that I could escape my dinner companion in an ambulance. Oh how I yearned to listen to the wailing sirens, instead of this wailing sales rep telling me how wonderful his product line was.

If only this over-eager information spewer would have let me speak, I could have saved him a great deal of energy.  All the info that was being thrown at me, was NOT the info I needed to learn about.  His company had two main product lines, and he was going off like a crazed Tasmanian devil (the loony-toons version) about the WRONG product line.  By the time the info barrage was over, I simply couldn’t bring myself to ask about the product line that I was ACTUALLY interested in.  I simply didn’t have the endurance to go through that medieval gauntlet of torture again.  Instead, I smiled, and said “Thank you so much for educating me on your amazing product line!  Oh darn…is that the time?  I’m so sorry, but I have to run to my next appointment, is it OK if I call you to follow up next month?  Ok…bye bye.  Thanks again!”  I left the cash on the table to cover the bill, and dashed for the door as if I’d been holding my breath for 3 minutes, and the only available air was on the other side of the door.

We’ve all heard the sage lessons such as “you have 2 ears, and one mouth…use them accordingly”.  Yet, no matter how many times some people hear these nuggets of wisdom….as soon as they have a willing ear, they launch into a Feature and Benefit extravaganza!

If you are truly trying to build a relationship with the person on the other side of the table, then instead of talking about YOU and YOUR cool products…try asking a few questions about THEM and THEIR business. What you’ll find, is that if you listen first, the features and benefits you will provide, will then be TAILORED to your clients specific needs.  Plus, you might notice that your clients feel a little more connected to you as well.