A Deeper Understanding

Order Takers are typically not involved in persuading or convincing someone to buy something. They may answer questions and point out various choices regarding their product line or services, if asked, but Order Takers do not proactively cause a sale to occur. The prospect, typically induced by advertising or other means, has decided on her own to make the purchase. The Order Taker exercises very little to no control or direction of the prospect on any step of the sale.

Professional selling requires salespeople to fully understand the needs and concerns of their clients.

By asking the right questions before they present, professionals develop a deeper understanding of the problems their clients face. They then target their presentations toward showing clients that they, the salesperson, can solve those problems.

A major tenet of success is: Find out what people want and help them get it.

The first part, “Find out what people want“, is lost on “Order Takers”. They never find out – never develop a deeper understanding of their clients’ needs – because they jump into their presentations without first discovering need.

Order Takers confuse clients by telling as much about the product or service as they can, without first discovering what is relevant to their prospects. Too much information confuses people, and confused people say things like, “I want to think it over“.

The reverse of this often applies: Order Takers do not ask enough questions and therefore do not make constructive, informed suggestions, and miss out on sales because of it.

I recently spent two months looking at office space to purchase, and spoke with several salespeople over that time. From what I saw, Order Takers are alive and well in the commercial real estate world, but I fear they are not making many sales.

Not one sat me down and asked me what I wanted. Fifty percent of them, to this day, do not know what business I am in, how and when I use my present office, what facilities I have in my present office, and what I want in my new office. Had any asked, they would have developed an understanding of what type of office I needed.

Every one of them showed me the offices I asked to see. Only one suggested something different.

The agents I spoke with were quoting $5,000 per square metre. I asked them if they were selling anything. “Not much” was the universal reply. I suggested that perhaps the price of $5,000 was the problem. Each one said, “That’s the going rate“. I said, “But nothing is going!

In my travels I found two buildings, not ten minutes’ walk from the $5,000 per square metre buildings. I contacted two agents and made appointments to view an office in each building. I bought one that day. The price: $2,100 per square metre.

It gets more interesting. The first agent I dealt with had this property on her books. At one time I had mentioned this building to her but she seemed determined to steer me toward the more expensive properties.

When I told her the address of the unit I was due to inspect, she told me that SHE HAD IT ON HER BOOKS TOO. The property was open listed. She did not recommend I buy this office because it has no natural light – in her words, “It’s a cave”. I bought the cave – 98 square metres for $218,000.

I did not want natural light because with natural light comes street noise and I want to build a recording studio. No noise was what I wanted, and I was willing to trade off natural light to get it. But she didn’t ask me that, and so never developed a deep understanding of my needs. This lack of understanding caused her to miss a vital clue that would have led to a sure sale.

For Order Takers, when sales occur, the Order Taker often has no idea how it happened. Order Takers ‘fly blind’. The concept of developing an understanding of what is right for their clients and selling them on that is an alien concept to the Order Taker. The sales they make are mostly flukes.

One more thing: half of the salespeople with whom I made appointments were LATE. On the day of the inspection of the property I bought, the agent was so late that the owner showed me through.

Punctuality is a basic courtesy.  And so is asking questions to find out what is right for your clients.

Sales should never be a game of Pin the Tail on the Donkey. Take off the blindfold and ask questions.

Develop a deeper understanding of your clients’ needs and you will make more sales.

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