Very few people welcome an unsolicited opinion. They welcome them even less from someone they don’t know very well, if at all. Pitching a product or service to someone with the attitude that “you know they need it” is just like an unsolicited opinion. What gives you the right to tell me what I need when you know so very little about me?
This is the fatal mistake far too many salespeople make – assuming that everyone can use or benefit from their product. Frankly, few business owners have the time to meet with people who know nothing about their business or with someone who believes they already have the answer.
Believing in what you’re selling is great. Having a high degree of confidence in where the product has been most successful or well received is wonderful. Even having the experience or familiarity with the types of organizations that value your product can be beneficial. However, there is one problem—like the unsolicited opinion, you have not earned the right to tell anyone what they need. Until you spend some time learning, nobody cares what you think.
The fundamental flaw in the “I know what they need” sales approach is that the sales professional has made the mistake of looking at the sales arena through the wrong lenses — theirs.
Great sales professionals have the uncanny ability to see, recognize, and understand the world through their customers’ eyes. In order to communicate with the customer as a trusted advisor—someone who has earned the right to offer advice to a challenge or issue – the sales professional must engage in the learning process first. It is this learning process that provides valuable information, builds trust, establishes credibility, and facilitates the establishment of a professional rapport between client and salesperson.
When a salesperson walks in with the answers to a problem that has not been verified, discovered, discussed, or revealed, their ignorance and their arrogance is exposed. When this occurs, there is no opportunity to recover and build a relationship. There is only resistance to spending anytime with someone who comes in with answers without even knowing whether there was a question.
No matter how effective, wonderful, valuable, innovative, or amazing the product is, there is little to opportunity to amaze anyone with it until you have invested the time building the relationship by learning all that you do not know about your client’s business. If your perspective is outbound on the customer, you need to change your viewpoint. See and understand the world from the client’s perspective, internalize what they know, observe, and live everyday and you will have potentially earned the right to express your opinion; or, offer your advice. If you have not earned the right, you are wasting everyone’s time.
Here are three things to consider before expressing your unsolicited opinion:
- How much do you know about your prospect’s business? By definition, “know” is specifically what they have shared directly with you about the issues, challenges, and opportunities in their organization.
- Every single business owner has these fundamental drivers – make money, save money, solve a problem, fulfill a need. How effectively can you directly link your product to something you “know” about their business that will help them accomplish one of these objectives?
- How did the prospect or client solicit your thoughts or ideas on how to solve their problem? This often happens when you have earned the right – when a business owner trusts you enough, they will often ask for your advice. That is the open window to share how you and your product can help.
Stop “selling” and start “solving.” Keep your opinions to yourself and starting learning all about the many things you don’t know. When you are done listening and learning, ask yourself – did they ask for my opinion? If they didn’t, you haven’t earned the right, yet. Keep working at it.