When someone asks you, “What do you do?” if you say, “I’m in sales,” you’re making a mistake. You may think sales is the accurate answer. It is, but you’re losing an opportunity to begin selling with a momentum that is both accurate and compelling. There are lots of instances when you’ll have to answer “What do you do?” Whether you are explicitly asked or not, there will be networking opportunities, introductions at meetings, and the beginning of telephone calls where you’ll have to state what you do. Here’s a better way to answer “What do you do?” and to think about the products you sell.
Sell the sizzle not the steak. Learn to state how your products and services impact your customers instead of saying what you do. You’ll create interest and curiosity to hear more of your message. You start by knowing what benefits you bring to your customers. If you sell oil you help your customers reduce downtime. If you sell sales training the benefit you bring is producing profitable long-term business relationships. If you sell package shipping you bring your customers increased productivity with less stress.
Give your listener an idea of your ideal customer. Try to make the description general within your desired prospect group so you include as large a group as possible. Your target customer group should also be a desirable group to be part of. Three examples of a target customer are large fleet operations, business people, or companies looking to establish long term customer relationships.
Tying both elements together, you could answer, “I work with manufacturers and large fleets who are looking to reduce downtime by selecting quality lubricants.” When you get creative and think of the possibilities of what your products and services can do, you expand the possibilities for your sales.
How the sales champions do it. Most insurance agents sell insurance. The more successful ones sell security or peace of mind. One insurance salesperson sold more than 100 times as much insurance as other insurance salespeople. He sold even more than insurance, security or peace of mind. He sold tax shelters. He packaged insurance as one component in providing tax shelters to higher income customers.
A floor care chemicals salesperson saw his products as more than just his chemicals and floor products. He became an expert on floor care methods and supervision of floor care staff. Product price was an issue in his business. Total costs were a bigger issue since labor costs far outweighed product costs. As a floor care expert he offered his information and consulting services to his customers. His customers bought his consulting and received his floor care products, too.
Sales champions sell more than products and services. They sell what their products and services do for their customers. These salespeople are creative about the possibilities of what their products can do. They respond creatively when asked what they do. Charles Revson, the Chairman of Revlon, was asked what he did. He replied, “In our factories we manufacture cosmetics. In the department stores we sell hope.” What do you sell once your products leave your factories?