By Raju Mandhyan
A FEW YEARS ago, I had the honor of interviewing the Director of Application Services of Hewlett Packard, Philippines, Noel Mendoza, and though the subject of our discussions was information technology and its growing impact on the world, there was something he said outside of the interview that got velcroed to my heart and I share that thought with you here today.
Mr. Mendoza mentioned that his father, the distinguished Professor Gabby Mendoza of the Asian Institute of Management, had left an indelible mark on him and that mark stated that nothing is more important in a human being’s life than building and sustaining one’s ability in learning to learn. No diplomas, no degrees or doctorates granted by any institution can match up to one’s ability to become a self-driven learner at work and in life.
And, what applies in our daily lives and in our self-development and leadership initiatives also applies to selling and serving the needs of our customers.
Years ago there was this humorous story going around the internet about an inept salesman selling Bibles across the small towns of America. It’s a great story and puts across the point of eagerness and learning.
This Bible salesman would knock upon doors, mumble his way through his introduction, stumble through his presentation, and make an overall mess of what was considered to be an easy sale back in the day.
Upon seeing his inadequacy at his job, most of the people answering the door would get frustrated at his approach and respond with,
“You don’t know a thing about selling, do you?”
“No, ma’am, not really! I am new to this job and also quite clumsy around it.”
“Oh, you nitwit you, there’s nothing tough about selling, you know!”
“Yes, ma’am, you’re absolutely right. I need to trust that fact.”
“Oh, come now,” they’d rebuke, “let me show you how.”
And, the customer would then go about teaching this nitwit of a salesperson how to sell correctly. Well, at the end, you guessed it. His sales multiplied and he often made it to superstar status in his company.
His approach might be considered tricky today, but the essence of the Bible salesperson’s story lies in our wanting to learn. When your buyer senses and is convinced you want to learn about them to help them improve, then they often lean over backwards and hand you their trust in spades.
My belief is this “wanting to learn” is about innate curiosity. This desire to learn and add value is the anti-thesis, the opposite of what has been considered a standard selling process. In the standard selling process, the seller shamelessly shoves features, advantages, and benefits towards the prospective buyer. The reversal of this attitude and the desire to learn creates a good vacuum that draws the buyer in to where solutions can be created.
I massively trust and profess success from the process of inquiry and questioning at any time and place. This is the process of diagnostics and counselling that community workers, therapists, and doctors utilize. It is the process of interacting, learning, and understanding our clients prior to prescribing solutions. Interacting, inquiring deeply to learn about the customer is the true Heart of the Close.
A good teacher makes for a non-intrusive and gentle guide who creates an atmosphere to encourage students to think boldly, to talk freely, and to act judiciously. He makes available opportunities for them to exercise initiative, to grow and shape their own growth and development. A good sales leader does the same for his customers. He helps them create their own solutions and own them for tomorrow.
Raju Mandhyan author, coach and learning facilitator.