Skip to content

Imagine Making A Sales Call Without Mentioning The Product

by David Brock on February 20th, 2014

We are anxious to meet with customers to tell them all about our products and services.  We practice the few questions  we need to ask–you know the one’s—they create the platform to launching into descriptions about how our product it the answer to everything they want to do.  We practice our pitches, refining and polishing them, hoping that at the end, the customer pulls out a purchase order saying, “I need to buy a bunch of these!.”

Our product and marketing people train us incessantly on product capabilities, how we stack up against competition.  They train us in the questions we should ask to elicit a need for our products, then provide us endless materials and presentations about the product and how customers buying them suddenly have all their problems solved.

Yet, we struggle to get customers to see us.  We want to meet customers, we’re excited about what we have to sell, we just need someone willing to listen to us.

But customers have changed.  They don’t care.  They really don’t want to hear about our products.  If, by some chance they do, they’ll research it themselves, minimizing their need to talk to us.

Things are clearly going the wrong direction.  How do we accomplish our goals, how do we present our fantastic capabilities, what should we do?

Imagine a different kind of sales call……

What if we made sales calls without ever talking about our products and services?  How could this even make sense?

If we couldn’t talk about our products and services, what would we talk about?  Well there could be some pretty cool things.

We might talk about what the customer is really interested in.  We might talk about their businesses.  What’s happening, what problems they may be having.

We might bring them new ideas about how to grow, address new opportunities, improve their operations.

At some point, they might have identified a problem they need to solve.  We might talk to them about the problem, it’s current impact, what they want to do.  We might start identifying and prioritizing needs.

We might spend our time learning their perspectives and engaging them in different conversations—all without talking about our products and services.

But when do we get to doing something about their problems?  When do we need to start talking about solutions?

Possibly not yet.  Once we’ve identified what they are trying to do, we can talk to them about outcomes.  We can pose questions, “What would it mean if your share position could be improved by  2-3%?”  “How would it impact your customers and competitiveness if warranty claims could be reduced by 37%?”

We haven’t presented any solutions, we’ve not talked about our products.  We’ve gotten them excited about making a change and doing something, but instead of focusing on products, we focus on outcomes.  We get the customer committed to wanting to change their current situation and achieving certain outcomes.

None of this involves talking about our products.  They are conversations focused on the customer.  Where they are now, where they want to be, why, what the impact of that might mean?

Imagine making sales calls without ever mentioning the product.  We can focus on the customer’s business.  We can engage them in conversations about growing their business and more effectively achieve their goals.  We can focus on what they want to do and potential outcomes.  We can do so much of this without ever mentioning a product, or pulling out a product brochure.  We can get to the point where the customer says, “We have to do this!  How can you help me?”  Then we might talk about a product–but we actually don’t have to spend that much time, since it’s just a vehicle to helping the customer achieve what they have already committed to.

Book CoverFor a free peek at Sales Manager Survival Guide, click the picture or link.  You’ll get the Table of Contents, Foreword, and 2 free Chapters.  Free Sample

Be Sociable, Share!
Please follow and like us:
  1. hi David,

    I wholeheartedly agree with this approach. In sales you have nothing if you don’t clearly identify the customers need and help them solve that need.

    The best sales calls are where you are entirely talking about the prospective clients business.


  2. John Sterrett permalink

    Spot on, 100% right.

    Why is it that so many salespeople think it is their job to shove product down peoples’ throats?

    I’m lucky to sell one tremendous product, and just one. 5 or 6 questions in, I know if they have enough pain or potential to benefit.
    If not, we can spend the rest of the time enjoying lunch or talking about our kids’ soccer game last weekend.
    If so, you know I’m ready, willing and able to launch into how my product can change their world.

    Patience, people. Probing should never be done heavy-handedly.

    • Great comment John. Probing and discovery is about the customer not about your product! Actually, when we are discussing solutions, it’s amazing how little we have to talk about the product as well. The real focus is on what the product does for the customer–again the focus is on the customer.

  3. Great post David. I recall making a call like this a few years ago with about people around the table. The conversation about their business issues was intense and the general acknowledgement that they had to move forward and needed my help.

    Then at the end of the call one guy asked, aren’t you going to show us the product?

    At this point I told stories about how we had helped others and that was enough, we got the business.

  4. Hi Dave,

    I bet you didn’t have to try hard to write this post. From the brief chats we’ve had, discovery and a consultative approach have long been hallmarks of your engagement philosophy. The beauty of standing beside a client and looking at things together is that not only do we receive a more candid and accurate view of customer needs, but simultaneously, they unearth, verbalize and internalize those very needs. Once they hear the opportunity from their own mouths, in their own words, they own it, and the typical sales objections all but disappear.

    Don F Perkins

    • Don, first, I’m very flattered and appreciative for the nice words. Selling is so much easier when we talk to the customer about what they want to achieve and show them a way to do it. The actual conversation about the product is only a very small part of the overall conversation.

  5. Thanks David excellent as always. It is a great idea to try and think like a client. So if this is true, when sales people talk about product, I start to think cost and one thing my business doesn’t need is another cost. It’s kind of like starting a story with the last sentence, we just need to learn that sales is like a good story, the interesting bits are always at the beginning and in the middle and when those two parts make sense, the ending just comes naturally. 🙂

    • Mark, great to hear from you, ‘down-under! Really a great observation, it’s amazing how natural it is for both us and the customer! Thanks for taking the time to comment!

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Imagine Making A Sales Call Without Mentioning ...

Leave a Reply

Note: XHTML is allowed. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS