Thursday, September 22, 2005

Don't Sell Solutions -- Sacrilege -- eBay Selling Tips

Yesterday was one of those days where I surfed some excellent sites and thought – why do I ever buy books. There’s so much good content out there.

The following is a sample from an interview with Jeffrey Thull, consultant and author. They were talking about how it’s not enough to “sell solutions.” You have to get into the skin of the client and see how they’re living – something we heartily recommend on this blog and in The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing.

“Thull: Most importantly, you have to identify the physical manifestations of the absence of the value you are proposing to provide to the client. If you are offering value that the client needs, you should be able to point to physical evidence that the value in question is not present in the client’s current environment…

“..The traditional sales approach is opinion-based and requires the client to be capable of self-diagnosis. Asking your client if service technicians have fast access to the best information is asking the client to self-diagnose. With one simple question, you’ve begun to create a value gap.
“Sellers assume that clients come to the table with a clear recognition of the absence of value—a dangerous assumption that leads to a value gap. I don’t think most people are even conscious that they’re selling this way. It’s part of the historic, presentation-oriented sales approach….
“..Recognize that your clients often don’t understand as much about their situations as you think. It’s your job to figure out how capable a client is of self-diagnosis. The flawed assumption is that clients understand their problems and we just need to ask them to explain the problems to us and then show them the solution.”

Ok – the wording here is kind of heavy and academic, but the concepts are pretty simple. Essentially, you can’t expect a person to understand how your product is going to solve their problems. They may not even think that they have a problem. Instead, you have to pose the right questions and understand the potential pain points that they’re either denying or ignoring. (You also have to consider the fact that they may not be a legitimate prospect – this is an especially important and difficult step to take in high dollar selling situation. Think boats, airplanes and real estate.)

Your job is to help them discover that there actually is something wrong (as opposed to telling them) and then show them how things could be better with your solution. That discovery process starts with the ways you present information about your products. Here are a few tips for doing that:

1) Show, don’t tell
2) Offer examples of how others have used your product successfully
3) Address emotional drivers
4) Describe scenarios that customers want to solve (rather than presenting solutions outright)
5) Ask your customers lots of questions that help you understand why they’re buying

Thull’s discussion deals with complex sales scenarios, admittedly. However there’s plenty of wisdom that can be applied to eBay selling situations. Do you agree?

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