Have you ever had those watermelon SourPatch soft candies at the theater? I love those things! But, the only place I ever eat them is at the movies. Some people do popcorn; I do SourPatch. It’s hard to eat a whole box of those things, but over the course of a two-hour show, it works out just fine.
Imagine with me for a minute…
Let’s pretend I buy my SourPatch candy, and I’m so excited to eat them, I decide to open them up in the lobby before I head into to the movie. You know how hard it is to open those bags inside the box; and in my excitement, as I’m tearing into the bag with all my strength…BAM…I overcompensate and rip the bag completely apart, spewing little watermelon candies all over the floor.
Disappointed, I begin to pick up the candy and toss it into the trash (the 5-second rule definitely DOES NOT apply on a movie theater lobby floor!). I then make my way into the theater with a few candies left in the box, frustrated and deflated.
So, what does this have to do with sales?
When you go into a sales call, you bring with you a “box of candy.” Your knowledge. Your expertise. Your product information. Your preconceived ideas of how you can help the prospect. Your sales pitch.
And often, like I did in my imaginary movie theater experience, you spill your candy in the lobby. Before you’ve had a chance to learn about the prospect, understand her individual circumstances, find out if her problem is actually a fit for your solution, you throw candy all over with no rhyme or reason.
Keep your candy in the box until the right time.
Sure, there is a RIGHT time to spill your candy. Just like I enjoy my SourPatch throughout a two-hour movie, sharing your knowledge, expertise, and third-party stories over the course of an initial sales call is okay; in fact, it’s encouraged. You want to create and maintain “curiosity and arousal” during your interaction with the prospect.
But, throwing it all out of the floor too early does two things:
1. It assumes you know what your prospect needs.
When you start spewing your knowledge and sharing information about your products and services before understanding the prospect’s pain and budget, you’re making assumptions that may or may not be true. Ask questions and uncover pain before assuming you and your product/service are the right solutions.
2. It puts all the control in the hands of the prospect.
When you spill all your candy in the lobby, you fall into the traditional buyer cycle of Lie>Gather Information>Lie>Hide. Once she has your information, the prospect is in control. Often, she’ll thank you for the information, and then take and share it with the incumbent or use it as a comparison tool to find the lowest price.
This is not a sneaky trick to withhold information in order to swindle someone into buying.
It’s the exact opposite, in fact. You are working to provide the best insight and information at the right time and situation to help the prospect most. Next time you go into a sales call, ask yourself: By sharing this information right now, am I helping the prospect or just telling them about what we do?