What problems have you solved for your customers, lately?

The most important topic to discuss when time is limited

Ever get on a farm call and get rushed into giving your sales “pitch” and then rushed off the farm?  If you’ve been selling for a week, I’m sure that has already happened.  One of the struggles most salespeople run into is over-presenting on their products.  It’s their comfort zone.  When they get rushed, the first thing they want to do is tell the prospective customer all about the good things about their products.

This usually lands with a thud or worse, a “Thanks, but I’m good for now.  Maybe stop another day. I don’t have time to look at it”

To solve this common sales problem. there are two options that I work with salespeople on during training sessions.

The first is to turn the topic back onto the prospective customer.  Hopefully, you have done enough homework or maybe even have a referral so you can ask an open-ended question to get the conversation started.

If that doesn’t work and you feel the need to talk about yourself, I want you to hold back on pure presenting about you, your company, or your great products.

Remember, this farmer or Ag buyer has already indicated they are busy.  They have rushed you into giving them your “pitch” so they can say “No” and get you off their farm.  There is an immediate need to maintain your confidence and discuss the most urgent problems you have been solving for customers.

The focus on solving the most current problems for other farmers in the area is far more interesting to this new prospect than your experience or your spring promotional sale or anything else that sounds like a sales presentation.

Here is a sample dialogue that has happened numerous times to me and the salespeople I have ridden with.

Scene:  As we drive up, the farmer gives an uninterested glance as he sees a suspected salesperson driving down his gravel driveway.  Besides, the door logo gives away who you sell for.

Salesperson: “Good morning, you probably weren’t looking for another salesperson to call on you this morning?”

Producer:  laughing, “No, I don’t think I have ever been looking for another salesperson to call on me, ever”

Salesperson:  laughing with the producer, “Well, I understand.  Would you allow me to simply introduce myself?

Producer: “Sure, but I can see from the sign on your door, you’re out pedaling seed-feed-equipment-crop insurance….” 

Salesperson: “That’s right, I like to think I’m the top peddler in Johnson County (smile/laugh) Lately though, I’ve been busy with everyone struggling to plant into this year’s weather.  It took a bit, but we figured it out for several in the area and it seems to be going really well.”

Producer: “Oh yeah.  You think you got it all figured out, huh?”

Salesperson: “Well, not all, but some are really doing well on this method/product/service and it might be worth a look for you.  I noticed some low ground over there and that’s where we have had the best luck this past week”.

A couple of important points in this exchange.  First, the joking around about salespeople has to be a judgment call as some producers don’t really give off the impression they like that sort of thing.  If so, discontinue it.  However, if you are trying to stand out from all the other salespeople that call on this producer, a little self-deprecating humor can go a long way.  It shows that you understand and empathize with them

Secondly, producers, or any customer for that matter may have some negative terminology like, “peddler” for salespeople.  Trust me, peddler might be the nicest word they use for some salespeople.  Water off a duck’s back, as they say.  Let it roll right off.  Joke with it if you feel the mood but don’t get offended in the slightest. 

Lastly, I want to end by asking you a question.  Does this exchange sound worse or better than if you had walked up, introduced yourself, got rushed into talking about what you were “pedaling”, and then started talking about your products?

I know that’s a long question, but if you don’t answer, “better”, then I have a request.  Reread the exchange.  Then ask yourself again, which approach is better?

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