My Medical Device Sales Career
What is the stereotypical view of a “salesman?” Isn’t it that used car stereotype where some guy in a cheap suit walks out and says something to the effect of “If I could get the payments right would you buy this beauty today?” It’s the old “if – then” in all its glory. Phew!
We professional sales people would never stoop to that level, right? We would never be caught using some dorky “if – then” type questions to trap our customers – would we?
Most sales people get the “if – then” technique completely wrong, in my opinion. They water down its effectiveness by using “if – then” as a probe that ends up sounding a bit like a trap. That is because it is a trap and customers resent being trapped.
Maybe we should take a step back. You know what I mean by the “if – then” technique, don’t you? The “if” presents a criteria that must be met. If the criteria is met, “then” the commitment follows. Example: “If I can have your paint delivered by Tuesday, then will you sign the purchase agreement today?”
I do not like “if – then” probes early in the sales dialogue. As I mentioned before, it sounds like a trap and customers resent being trapped. What, then, is the place of the “if – then” probe? Well, there are actually at least two!
First of all, the “if-then” can be a wonderful listening skill. Say what? Yes – a listening skill. As you are listening to your customer, listen for “if – then” opportunities. Listen for criteria that can lead you to the sale. When you hear it, confirm by asking an “if – then” question and seek their commitment.
For instance, your customer has commented on how crucial it is that they receive their paint order by Tuesday. One effective way to capitalize what you just heard and create commitment is to ask: “If we can ensure your order is delivered no later than Tuesday, are you ready to sign the PO so we can get moving?”
A second use for the “if – then” is as a means of summarizing the criteria you’ve uncovered through the sales dialogue with your customer and then gaining commitment to move forward. “Dr. Jacobs, we’ve agreed that all of the parameters you’ve identified as crucial are ones we can meet. If you are in agreement, then let’s finalize all the paperwork so we can schedule the implementation.”
This week, listen for “if – then” opportunities and nail down commitments as you summarize the buying criteria you’ve agreed to with your customers. Good selling!