The Not-So-Secret Secret

By Ken Zimmer
Director of Sales
Trivalent Group, Inc.

I have been in a sales role for nearly 17 years at Trivalent Group dating back to my time as an employee at Remex Corporation before that company merged with the original Trivalent to form Trivalent Group.  I have met with thousands of people in that time. Whether they were prospects, clients, business partners, or salespeople, I have always tried to observe and learn from each of them.  I have been in meetings with the best presenters to some of the very worst and everything in between, and I have come to the conclusion that there is a secret but not-so-secret secret in how to approach customers and prospects.

That fact is that many salespeople make a huge mistake by going into meetings with the objective to sell a product rather than a solution. This is irritating to me because they are missing the importance of identifying the problem, pain point, or issue and forming a solution to remedy it.  It seems like a very simple concept, yet you would be surprised by how few salespeople follow through with it.

Let me ask you this: When you go to the doctor, does he or she walk in and prescribe you medication and schedule surgery for your knee before asking you what symptoms you are experiencing, taking X-rays, and discussing goals for recovery?  If that were the case, what if it was your elbow instead of your knee that was injured in the first place?  The point is that it is far more important to understand the problem before suggesting a product.

Most people don’t care what the label on the product you recommend says if it is part of a solution that helps them solve the problem at hand.  Work with the client and provide them with a solution that happens to include a product, not a solution to sell a specific product on the front end.  This makes all of the sense in the world but is missed by so many.  It is simply putting the client’s needs in the forefront.  Don’t be the salesperson who is selling a hammer and makes every problem a nail.

I take real pride in what I do and how I deal with my clients.  Even though sales is my profession, I do not want to be known as a salesperson.  I view my work as being a trusted advisor for my clients.  Many clients have told me that they enjoy working with me because I do not “sell” to them. They feel that I understand the problems that they are having and provide options, explaining the pluses and minus of those options and letting them make the decision that they feel is correct for their particular business.  When they tell me this, it is a huge compliment to me because I strive to be a trusted advisor rather than a salesperson.  As Director of Sales at Trivalent Group, I find it important to instill this approach with our sales reps as well.

The not-so-secret secret is simple: Do not approach things with a product vision.  Rather, understand the needs and provide a solution. Who really cares what they label says? I would argue that if you are not positioning yourself in this way, then you are missing the true opportunity to build a stronger relationship with your client or prospect and making yourself far less valuable to them.  Do you want to be known as a box peddler?  I do not and value the client far too much to take that approach.