If I ask you to sell me a toaster and you immediately start telling me about features and benefits, how many slices it can toast, how it can burn in a picture of Darth Vader, you are not getting hired.
If you ask me how often I toast bread, how many slices I need to toast per hour, what I liked about my last toaster, etc. then you made it through the question.
If you get asked this question, start asking questions!
— Mike Hillyer, ( Professional and Certified Product Manager)
While the salesman was a guest on the show Johnny said, “I understand you sold more than any other salesman this year at your firm. How about you sell me something.”
The salesman said, “what would you want me to sell you?”
“I don’t know, how about this ashtray.” Johnny answered.
“Why would I sell you that ashtray?” the salesman replied.
“Well, it is a useful thing to have around, a lot of our guests use it, and it also matches the desk.” Johnny answered.
The salesman asked, “How much do you think that ashtray is worth?”
“I don’t know maybe $199” Johnny replied.
“Tell you what. You can have it for $50.”
The first idea is that when you say ‘Sell me this pen,’ I want to hear [the salesman] ask me a question. ‘So tell me, how long have you been in the market for a pen?’ I want them to turn it around on me and start asking me questions to identify my needs, what I’m looking for. And if you do that, people don’t know what to do. Next thing, he is answering, and now I’m controlling the conversation, finding out exactly what he needs.
“Once I have that, I say, ‘You know, Bill, based on what you’ve just said to me, the pen I have here is the perfect fit. Let me tell you what it’s about…’ Then you can tell them about what you have, because you’re filling a need.
Most average or newbie salespeople think that they’re supposed to sell you the pen, when a really seasoned salesperson will actually turn it into a qualifying session to find out what you need. That’s the truth of it. It’s like trying to sell someone a house and you don’t know if they’re in the market for a house, what kind of house they want, how many kids – so how can you sell someone a house? That’s the point.
— Jordan Belfort (American author, Motivational speaker, and Former stockbroker who was played by Leonardo Di Caprio in The Wolf of the Wall Street)