Do This and Lose Sales
Focus on products lose sales, solutions make sales

The North Country is dumped on, 17 inches worth of the white cold stuff. Procrastination has hit, those slick road-hugging sports tires still on the car prove to be highly useless in the slick and hard packed snow.

Monday morning, the first priority is to have the car be mobile and a set of snow-oriented tires becomes necessary.

Four phone calls are made to local tire suppliers with one getting the sale. The thing is each one of them had the opportunity and three blew it!

Yes, this does apply to all sales and you could be avoiding this error as well! Are you?

Here are the details of a great sales lesson for all of us.

In each phone call, I indicated the tire size currently mounted on the car. Said I needed a pair of tires that will bite into the current ice and snow pack as well as stating the car had rear wheel drive.

The first took the information and informed me they were completely out of stock on that size tire. The company had really cut back on inventory this year, but they would have them in a couple of weeks. No sale.

The second did have some very high-end tires in the size indicated, but the sticker shock left me breathless. They were told I would consider them.

The third had a tire model that might give me what I wanted, but were not the top traction kings. Their price was not much better than the second dealer was.

The fourth call went to a dealer I had used in the past with some issues. What have I to lose?

"Yah, that is an odd size tire and we do not have anything that I would recommend for snow. Let me check the diameter and see what we could substitute to help you out." was the response.

"Yep, we can go with a slightly narrower tire in a 60 series instead of the 55 and the circumference is the same. I have several sets in stock for you. We can get them on as soon as you get the car here." came the answer.

Not only did the tires provide fantastic traction, the price was a full $100 less than quoted from the other two dealers.

Here is a key point, a couple days later I called the other three dealers and asked for the tire size purchased from dealer four. All three had an aggressive winter tire in that size and at a comparable price!

So what is the point here? The first three dealers were focused on a given tire size (the product). For whatever reason they did not consider tire circumference and a substitution. This information is listed on all tire charts for just that reason. Perhaps more training on substitution is in order or a greater focus on Solutions could have gotten them a for sure sale!

The fourth dealer looked for the size indicted, but focused on solving my problem. Because of this, he got the sale and more respect.

In our selling each day, are we so caught up on the product that we miss those great opportunities to solve a client's problem? So often clients indicate salespeople push one product because of price or promotion, even when that product will not fully address the client's issue. I wonder if they really know what the clients issue is. The client would gladly pay more for the other model that will solve the issue, but being product focused, the salesperson misses the opportunity and wonders why the competition gets the business.

How much time would have been saved by all involved if the first tire dealer would have been solution focused instead of product, (tire size) focused? It would have been a sale for them and I would not have made a second, much less a third or fourth call. Price was not the issue, time and traction were!

In this new year of 2010, what would happen if you became more solution focused and forgot about pushing product? All you have to do is ask more questions and then actually listen!

Harlan Goerger

Author's Bio: 

Harlan Goerger has been building business and sales for 30 years. The author of The Selling Gap and 100's of articles on Sales, Leadership and Business. Web sites are