What’s In the Box Salesperson?

Imagine you go to a customer carrying a box. Not a big one, just a regular size, big enough for a few A4 envelopes. You take it under one arm. Once in the customer’s office, you put the box on the stakeholder’s desk, who asks, “What’s in the box, Salesperson?”

You say, “It’s empty, but when I leave, it will be full.” I will ask you many questions; whenever you answer with something valuable, I put that in the box. Your stakeholder says, “What are you going to do with these answers in the box?” You respond, “I will go to my office, study all the information you gave me, and then I will get back to you next week with a proposal to change your business over to us.” The stakeholder reacts with concern, “Hmm… I am not interested in doing that for you. I think you are wasting my time.” She asks you to leave.

The following week, you go again to the same customer with a different box. It’s square, neatly gift-wrapped with a bow tie on top. Surprisingly, your contact agrees to meet with you again, as if she wants to give you a second chance. Looking at the box, she says, “I thought you were going to give me a proposal to change my business to you?”.

I changed my mind, listened to you, and want to make our conversation more interesting and valuable for you. To start, I invite you to open the box. Your contact gladly accepts your invitation. Opening the lid, she looks into the box and sees a small pile of folders. She grabs the one on top. “Heh,” she cries, “that’s our company journal, the July edition!” “Yes,” you say, “I noticed you have appointed a new Marketing Director. And I also saw that he has already made your website much more customer-friendly.” “Ah…,” your contact reacts, “did you pick that up?”…

She dives with her arm back into the box to open the next folder. “What is this?” she asks. “That’s a research report I picked up for you, highlighting the risk of not putting enough focus and resources on e-commerce.” “What is the risk?” the customer asks, eager to hear your response. “Well,” you reply, “research estimates that you may be missing out on an additional 10% in short-term and 20% in long-term revenue income from e-commerce. I looked at your website and its e-commerce capabilities. I think I can help you generate more clicks and online orders with a few tweaks.”

She tilted her head towards the box, her eyes fixed on its bottom. Standing up, she examined it more closely and pulled out a card with a thumb drive. “And what’s this?” she asked, her excitement evident. “Yes,” you replied, “I thought you would like this. It’s a recording of another customer I helped grow their B2C business. It’s a great story, not exactly in your industry, but very inspiring. Feel free to share this with your Marketing Director.” Your contact now invites you to stay a bit longer. “Coffee?” She asks.

What’s the moral of this story? A couple of things:

  • In traditional selling, the Salesperson is doing the discovery for their benefit. This is not valuable anymore for the stakeholder. You are wasting their time.
  • When using the modern selling approach, it’s the customer that is making the discovery. Something insightful that is changing their perspective on growth opportunities they had not thought about or didn’t know how to approach.
  • Selling is helping
  • You got to give to get. A strong reciprocal concept to be used when collaborating with your customer.

What box will you carry to your next customer meeting?

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