As seen in Creative Selling magazine

Be Ready When It’s Show Time

Four buddies and I met at the annual Northeast Snowmobile Show. We went to check out the new products and help our friend purchase a new 20-foot enclosed trailer. This seemed like an easy task because he would be able to examine models side by side, compare prices and benefits, and hopefully strike a deal.

We began looking over the first trailer of interest. After about seven minutes we had a number of questions.

Here is where it gets interesting. The four of us were scouring over this trailer, yet no salesperson came to greet us. Can you imagine? Over to the side, I could see the salespeople sitting in chairs, talking amongst themselves and drinking coffee. I looked over at them like “HELLO?!” A few of them glanced over at me, then turned back to their conversation.

Finally, someone in my group uttered, “Does anyone here want to sell a trailer today?” We got ourselves a salesperson.

He started out by asking if there were any questions he could answer. So we asked how many snowmobiles could fit on this model. The salesperson didn’t know. We asked how we would load and unload, the salesperson didn’t know. We asked what the distance was between the back and the forward man door, and you guessed it, the salesperson didn’t know.

We should have asked the salesperson if there were actually any questions he could answer.

We got about the same treatment from the next two vendors. I couldn’t help thinking about the capital expense of exhibiting at a show, the return on investment, and the necessity to seize every opportunity to make it all worthwhile. It almost seemed they were not interested in our business.

Not one salesperson asked my friend how far he traveled, if he had any needs other than snowmobiles, how many snowmobiles he owned, if he anticipated adding more snowmobiles to the fleet, etc.

Just when the situation seemed hopeless, we met Mike at the Worthington trailer display. He approached us with a friendly smile and engaged us in conversation. We started asking him some questions and we got the right answers. In return, he asked my friend a number of questions and made some great recommendations on issues we had never considered.

He listened, questioned, and catered to my friend’s needs and concerns.   He brought up some good points, and my friend decided to add a Worthington trailer to the fleet. My friend decided to buy a large trailer with every available option and upgrade, and he’s having an additional door put in the side. He’s also comfortable that his trailer needs will be met for today and the future.

If the other salespeople would have performed like Mike did, they would have found that price was not the issue, it was function. I later found out Mike is the president of Worthington Trailer 

When opportunity knocks, you have to answer the door. Yes, I understand there are a bunch of tire kickers at trade shows as there are in everyday business. If you don’t know how to identify quality and engage the right prospects, savvy competition will eat you alive.

Now here’s my tip: To heighten your sales or sales team’s effectiveness, you must introduce a stream of diversified sales tips and skills while regularly reinforcing the basics. Pay close attention to the questioning strategies. Questions are engaging, thought-provoking, and create a foundation for your selling points. If you’re a regular Creative Selling subscriber, you already have these skills at your fingertips. Read it, discuss its sales strategies at team meetings, and practice, practice, practice. Like Mike, you’ll be ready when it’s show time.

All the best,

P. William Clarke.