According to CBS, the majority of Americans believe in psychic phenomena. Don’t believe me? Check it out here. It is pretty obvious that, as a culture, we seem to be transfixed by the existence of ESP. With shows like “Psych”, “Long Island Medium”, and “Crossing over with John Edwards”, and thousands of books dedicated to the subject (including this one which teaches you how to unlock your psychic powers), it’s clear we want to believe.
Perhaps that’s why sales people always seem to know just what their prospects want and need. Sometimes, they know before their prospect knows themselves! However, unless they’re channeling Miss Cleo herself, it’s likely they’re just assuming. Over half the population may believe in psychic abilities, but I have never met a prospective client that believed I had a “sixth sense” as to what their needs were.
Prospects know their business better than you do. Prospects are more aware of their needs than you are. Prospects live with the daily frustrations that result from any one of those needs that aren’t being met. So, why are salespeople showing up and telling them how they should feel; what they should do; and what their real problems are? It’s like the overbearing grandmother at any family function, who feels the need to point out how you should be raising your kids, when in reality she doesn’t know a thing about them. Or the extra helpful mother, who takes it upon herself to list all the reasons you’re still single, which always comes in the form of an answer to a question you never asked. Or the friendly neighbor, who is convinced you are dying to know what color they think your new shutters should be.
Salespeople are not wizards. We do not have a crystal ball, or an all-seeing eye. Yet, we have the tendency to get to a place in our careers, when we have heard similar prospects give us similar feedback, that we begin to believe we know what they need five minutes into an initial meeting, without ever bothering to truly ask them. I’m not talking about asking them what size/color/make/model/service they want. I’m telling you to ask them why they want it. Invest in your prospects and clients. Put some capital in them as individuals. Fully understand what they’re asking you for, and why they’re asking you for it. You’ll start to see yourself transform from an order taker to a trusted advisor in their eyes. Your clients need you to go deep with your conversations, because they are relying on you to help them make good decisions. They are hiring you based upon their ability to trust you and your ability to help them. How can you help them if you don’t know what they are actually experiencing? How can they trust you when you’re not willing to invest the effort to earn it?
Let’s look to our last pop culture reference for guidance – “The X-Files”. Who was right more often: Mulder or Scully? As it turns out, Scully immediately made rational excuses upon hearing every piece of paranormal activity, in every episode of “The X-Files”, prior to investigating the incident. Scully was wrong every time. Is it because 57% of Americans are correct, and unexplained phenomena actually do exist? No. It’s because she was looking for solutions to the problems without digging deeper. She assumed she had the answer because she had seen it explained before. Moral of the story, be like Mulder. Embrace your childlike curiosity and ask “why”. Because …. “the truth is out there.”