What can we learn from Popeye?

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Gwendoline Cuppens

Gwendoline Cuppens


Salesreps, the fallen gods?

There was a time when the salesrep was your single source of information. The salesrep was responsible for providing you with all relevant product information and explaining the different product features. He or she was the main reason you got persuaded in buying that specific product or service. However, when you enter a store today, salesreps are becoming more and more obsolete. You most probably ‘googled’ different brands and stores that offer what you want. You read product reviews and blogs, perhaps you even watched one of those fancy inboxing videos on YouTube? You’re most likely to have made up your mind what to buy, even before the first salesrep could approach you!

Knowing this you could assume that the job of a salesrep is getting easier by the day. Their “only job” is to:

  • Ask the customer what they need.
  • Give a range of options based on these needs.
  • Give personal advice to help the customer make a choice between the different options.

The traditional mistake most salesreps make however is to:

  • Assume that everybody needs the product they are getting a bonus for
  • Give a list of all the great features the product has without considering the customer’s needs
  • Be indignant when he customer is still not convinced about the product

You’d think this doesn’t happen anymore nowadays… However, this is still a widespread problem! Ever had a phone call or an email from a salesperson selling you this great new car insurance without even asking if you own a car?” It’s like the Romans already said: “Narration argentea, silentium vero aureum est”.

Strategic selling 101

The key in strategic selling is to listen to the customer first and recognise the great advantages that emerge. The number of customer reactions increases, the length of responses increases, the reliability of information improves, the number of unsolicited responses increases, the number of customer questions increases… and what’s more, the salesrep gets more time to think. Because the only, but hugely important thing that still needs to be done is to identify the fit between your customer’s need and the product being sold. If a salesrep manages to find that fit, the customer will feel as he is getting a tailored solution to his needs. You are no longer buying a product, you are getting a solution for your problem! As a salesrep you’ll notice that the hesitation to buy will reduce significantly.

One thing that everyone in sales should keep in mind is that no customer buys a product per se. They buy a solution, they buy the added value the product or service will provide them with. Remember Popeye? Back in the day he managed to boost spinaches sales with as much as 33%! Although spinache has the most nutrition per calorie and contains all the good stuff kids should eat, it wasn’t a very popular vegetable. Not until popeye demonstrated that eating spinache will make you grow strong.

To all salesreps out there I have 1 solid advice: embrace this new era of customer power. With the knowledge of the internet is has never been easier to know your customer’s needs. Just listen and offer them your perfect solution.

Ready to become a customer company?