In this post by Go-Giver Coach and Speaker (and the man who is bringing The Go-Giver philosophy and methodology to corporate Australia), Ian Lowe, he makes a terrific point in terms of the “ultimate question” those of us in sales need to ask ourselves…and contemplate until we truly know our answer.
Enjoy Ian’s wisdom. – Bob Burg
In Fred Reichheld’s ground breaking book ‘The Ultimate Question’ he writes about how asking your customer that one ultimate question, “How likely is it that you would recommend us to a friend or colleague?” and ranking their responses on a 0-10 scale drives extraordinary financial and competitive results.
I am a huge fan of Fred’s work and it occurred to me in a moment of quiet contemplation one day that despite the fact that asking questions is the sales persons raison d’être, could it be that there’s one ultimate question we’re not asking? And by ‘…we’re not asking’ I’m referring to the profession as a whole.
Let me apologise in advance to those true sales professionals out there, you’ve no doubt figured out the question and answered it long ago or you wouldn’t be enjoying the stellar career’s you are today. The fact that you stand out from the crowd as shining examples of selling the way it should be help’s to make my point. So many in sales haven’t found the answer, a fewer still even realise there’s a question to be asked. You flag flyers are the exception rather than the rule my friends and I for one salute you.
The sad reality however is that of the hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs, small business owners, corporate salespeople or anyone who finds themselves fulfilling any type of sales function, most are having a hard time with sales and selling. And you know what so are buyers, customers, clients, prospects regardless of the term you wish to use. Whatever side of the table you’re sitting on – buyer or seller – we currently exist more as combatants than as collaborators much of the time.
Could it be that this House of Cards-like battle between the buyers and sellers of the world all comes down to this one pesky question we refuse to ask or is it refuse to answer? Or is it that we’re fully aware of the question but we just don’t like the answer so we pretend it’s not there gnawing away at our collective conscience.
I’m nearly there so just a few more words to contextualise before the big reveal. I think it’s fair to say that just about everyone in a sales role would have been exposed to some form of sales training or what we could refer to as the ‘How’ – all you have to do (so the idea goes) is thoroughly learn and carefully practice everything in the sales person’s bag of tricks and you too will become a sales success! At least that’s the theory (and probably a great point to discuss in another blog post.)
So the How of selling is a tried and tested path, but given the adversarial nature of the buyer/seller relationship the how doesn’t seem to steering us in the right direction. What gets far less if any attention at all is the much more important question of – Why?
So here we are back at where we started with that ultimate question we’re not asking – here it is “Why do we sell?” If you’re jumping to the comment box below with an answer that has anything to do with you, your company or the financial drivers of employees and companies who sell their products and services, of course I get that. But even though these are very real issues and because I need to feed my children or to pay my staff are very real answers – yet here we are with these adversarial buyer/seller relationships that make the sales process so dysfunctional and frustrating!
I urge a pause; contemplate, meditate and ruminate for a while – then please share your Why with us.