Thanks to some ideas he picked up in a recent Action Selling workshop, Ken Prenger returned to his job and rescued a $250,000 deal he had given up for dead. But that’s just for starters. He says that the lessons he learned from his successful salvage effort will completely transform his future dealings with customers and the relationships he builds with them.
It’s all thanks to Action Selling’s concept of replaying the call, says Prenger, general manager of the Prenger Implement Store, an AGCO farm-equipment dealer in Minster, Ohio. Here’s his story:
Insights from replays can transform future customer relationships.
Just before leaving to attend an AGCO Action Selling workshop in another state, Prenger learned that a farmer who had planned to buy a quarter-million-dollar tractor suddenly changed his mind. On the flight home from the workshop, reflecting on what he had learned, Prenger mentally replayed his last call on the customer.
He began with his Commitment Objective, which obviously had not been accomplished. Why not? Clearly an objection had arisen. But what was it, exactly? As he had just learned, Action Selling defines an objection as the customer’s response to an unasked question. Thinking about that, Prenger realized that he hadn’t actually questioned the farmer well enough to understand the objection that had killed the sale.
When he got back and met again with the customer, Prenger used his newly improved questioning skills to learn that an opportunity had arisen for the man to buy another farm. He couldn’t buy Prenger’s tractor because he needed to keep his credit line open to do the land deal. Prenger proposed a lease option for the tractor that would not tie up the farmer’s credit. Voila! The deal was saved—“a direct result of the AGCO Action Selling workshop,” Prenger says.
But the real golden insight, Prenger reflected, was not his discovery of the customer’s business need to preserve his credit line. It was the personal reason behind that business need. As he peeled back the onion with questions designed to let him understand the customer’s situation, Prenger learned that the reason the farmer wanted the new land was because he has sons who want to enter the farm business. For them to have enough opportunity, they need to grow the size of the operation.
The man wants to give his children a shot at their dreams? Now there is a customer need far more basic and powerful than anything having to do with a credit line. As he replayed the successful call, Prenger realized that the need to help those sons would drive all of the customer’s business thinking for the foreseeable future—not just the decision about whether to buy one tractor. The sons were the key to understanding this customer and his business goals.
Prenger’s final realization: All of his customers most likely have powerful personal motives that shape their business goals. If he wants to be seen as a valuable consultant and business partner, not just as another salesperson, he needs to achieve a deep understanding of their business goals. To do that, he needs to ask questions that uncover the real motives that determine the goals.
Insights like that are pure gold. And you won’t get them unless you Replay the Call.
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Action Selling in Action
As Ken Prenger replayed the successful customer call that allowed him to rescue a $250,000 sale, he says, “I realized that I didn’t really know this prospect very well.
“Now I know what I need to add to calls on all of my accounts in the future: Not just more questions to understand their business goals, but questions to uncover the personal reasons for those goals,” Prenger says. “That way, I can act like a real partner in helping to achieve them. Instead of just selling farm equipment, I can be more of a consultant.”
Oh, and one final insight from replaying the earlier call in which he almost lost the tractor sale: “If I do a more thorough job in Act 3 [“Ask the Best Questions”], I can anticipate objections before they happen.”
For information about how to make sales training pay huge dividends, contact Action Selling at (800) 232-3485.
For a fun read and a great look at the 9 Acts of Action Selling, see Action Selling: How to Sell Like a Professional (Even If You Think You Are One).