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Ask Then Tell

As I've mentioned, SPIN Selling describes a sales process based on questioning and listening rather than telling. Many of the lessons apply to product management as well.

Now, Kristin Zhivago shares:
Salespeople like to talk, and they need to make a sale. Combine this character trait and this need, and you get the typical unsuccessful sales interaction. The salesman talks and talks, while the customer is standing there with all sorts of questions. The salesman doesn't answer the questions the customer has. The salesman answers the questions he thinks the customer has.

Truth be told, he answers the questions he has answers for.

Not only does he fail to answer the customer's actual questions, but as he prattles on, he adds to the customer's concerns.

By the time his verbal spring winds down, the customer has decided that she doesn't want to buy anything from this salesperson or his company, or that the product or service isn't what she wanted anyway.

So she walks away. The salesperson doesn't understand why. Sometimes he finally starts asking questions as the customer is drawing away. But it's too late then, because the customer has already rejected the salesperson's pitch and is making her exit.

What he should have done is start with questions.

[I thought I came across this piece via Steve Johnson's blog, but I can't seem to track down the post so I can cite it.]

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