BIRMINGHAM — In Water Technology’s December article, “The science of sales for a new world of water,” Matthew Wirth and Alan Wirth, contributing authors, write about how a salesperson must stick to the facts and concentrate on the needs of the prospective client, and should be able to sell to any type of customer, whether a municipal homeowner, private well user or commercial water consumer.
In the article, the authors discuss salespeople should remain “non-gender” in their approach of targeting clients. “Some people believe that men are left-brained and women are right-brained. ‘Old school’ salespeople will often play to the logical left brain with a male audience and try to create emotion in the feminine right-brain audience,” explain Matthew and Alan Wirth. “As water system advisers, our message is non-gender. Do not get caught up in creating emotion and playing to a male or female audience. Instead, stick to the facts and concentrate on establishing needs. In this way, one works with the clients to discover the ‘true’ issues and work toward a positive long-term solution.”
They continue by offering “a basic set of needs-based activities to use as sales calisthenics:
- Get to the point: You should not go into a sales presentation just to tell people what your product is, what your ideas are and what you are selling. A true water professional goes into any call trying to discover the perceived and actual issue and what the client is looking for as a result.
- Be a professional: People today are very busy. Respect their time and they will respect you. Be on time. Work in a direct manner and speak in a professional voice. Know the topics of discussion and never pretend to be an expert in fields outside of your own.
- Look, listen, test and confirm: After initial inquiries, review the site and existing systems. Audit the current systems and evaluate if they are correct for the application. Test the functionality of the systems and review the usage data. Determine volumetric, flow and pressure demands. Assess if the current equipment meets the hydraulic requirements and throughput demands base on the collected data and discovery.
- Solutions and third-party objective criteria: The solution to water-related issues and water-process needs are seldom singular. Depending on the required result, there are often multiple technologies. When picking a technology, be prepared to support the choice with documentation.
- Different needs for different clients: Following the initial discovery comes the right-brain work. Technical innovations increasing efficiency, decreasing one’s carbon footprint and saving money, receive different priorities with different audiences. Establish a baseline for right-brain requirements in the way of economic or social needs and advise to those needs when choosing solutions.
- Talk to your audience and know your audience: Talk to your audience and not at them. Respect their intelligence and do not necessarily over simplify. Be cognizant that everyone is not a water professional but may be self-educated in the topic. Use verbal and nonverbal communication indicators to know when to stop talking. Information overload will quickly kill a sale. Knowing when to stop talking is a difficult skill to master and is developed with experience.
- Prepare for Q&A: A gifted communicator will answer questions only after listening to them entirely and carefully considering the required level of response. A rookie communicator starts developing a response before the questioner is done speaking, never hearing all of the questions. In question and answer (Q&A) sessions, it is important to understand the questions. Clarifying the question with another question and paraphrasing them helps communicate the appropriate answer.
- Use your brain: To stay sharp and current, become a lifelong learner. There are more avenues for learning and continued education available to water professionals than ever before. There is no good excuse for not improving and increasing one’s knowledge. Use the tools available to become an adviser, not just a salesperson. There is nothing wrong with being a salesperson, just be the best needs-based salesperson possible.
Read the entire December feature on the science behind sales here.