101 Best Sales and Marketing Ideas

IDEA 59:


Information is power, as the saying has it. In selling this is certainly true, and it follows that the finding –out process –identifying customer needs is – is a key one. Not least, it helps in dealing with competition. If you find out more and more thoroughly about the customer than a competitor does, then everything you have to do thereafter will be easier (and it’ll be more difficult for the competitor if they have failed to discover key facts).


From residential conference centre Highgate House…

This establishment is one of the best places in the United Kingdom to hold a conference or meeting. I have visited and used it many times wearing my training hat. Successful operators in this field must offer excellent facilities and service, but also, in selling themselves, must recognize that they are not in the business of meeting rooms and tables and chairs. They are in the business of “helping people make their meeting go well”. And that means finding out enough about any meeting someone is thinking holding to sell (and deliver) the venue as the best place for it. I often arrange meetings, and although I am usually asked what kind of meeting it is, if I say “training meeting”, the only further question is how many people will attend? The venue staffs ask nothing about the topic, the people, the importance, or anything else.

To get fuller information you don’t just need to ask careful questions, you also need to provide the opportunity for the customer to talk and explain .the idea here is to use silence as part of the process. On one occasion I observed one of the sales people at Highgate House get fuller picture of a meeting than I ever thought possible. She used five separate (open) questions, including such phrases as, “Tell me more about the delegates”. After each answer she kept quiet for a moment rather than moving straight on to another question – and in each case the pause prompted the customer to fill out their answer a little more. Just a few seconds may do the job, but it needs longer than instinct normally dictates. On this occasion, she was able to use the full picture she had uncovered to get an order. Surely saying nothing to sell more is about as easy as it gets.

In practice

  • Questioning is at heart of overall sales technique, and is worth examining in context. (My blog outsmarting Your Competition reviews the whole areas of sales technique.)

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