important article from: The Meeting Professional, Vol 27
By Dr. Thomas Lisk, LHD,CSE, President, Professional Speakers
Suppliers in the meetings industry are well advised to run all they
think, say and do through an ethical filter if they want to increase
sales and profits—long term. As a supplier and a planner in the
meetings industry for 30 years (as of this month), I respectfully offer
a few suggestions for your success.
Think in an Ethical Way
Words and actions emanate from thoughts. You may think you are ethical,
but if my experience with suppliers is an accurate test many need a
check up from the neck up. Congratulations on your efforts to be ethical
in the past, but in most cases there still is a higher road of ethical
thought. I am not just writing about the Golden Rule but instead tenets
linked to questions such as: Is what you are considering doing or saying
something of which your mother or God image would approve?
We all have a great deal to learn, but what is most important to learn
and implement consistently for your future success? Nothing is more
important than thinking and acting ethically in all ways at all times.
Ask others you can trust to evaluate your ethical behavior (confidentially)
and take to heart their observations.
Nothing is Perfect
I must have heard the desire for perfection from a hundred different
suppliers in the past five years. Nothing is quite perfect, so why pretend
it is? I prefer the word “terrific.” When asked, “How
are you?” Terrific! You can program yourself with better responses.
But you will never be perfect. Be truthful.
We are all programmed to respond to stimulus around us in certain ways
whether we want to admit it or not, and we do so over and over again.
If you want different and better results, you must stop saying the same
inane things repeatedly.
Speak More Respectfully
Dozens of suppliers I have dealt with who are a generation younger than
me communicate with very little understanding of who I am or where I
have been. Research your prospects better, not just the organizations
but the decision makers. Show more respect.
If you want respect you must give it. Regardless of generational differences,
most of us need to be much more respectful toward older people. The
generation older than you may not tell you this, but they often do not
do business with you because they do not like the way you treat them.
I do not want to be a buddy to someone young enough to be my son or
daughter, and I want to be referred to as Dr. Lisk or Mr. Lisk until
asked for permission to call me Thom.
Care, Really Care
The best way to show that you care about people and their needs or problems
is to ask the right questions and listen. Don’t simply push your
products—if you do this first or too much, you lose. You lose
more than you win. Also, if you think caring about people is enough,
think again. I love the age-old adage and truth, “People don’t
care how much you know until they know how much you care—about
them!” If you care, you work to understand and solve problems
first and foremost.
Research proves conclusively that problem solving is the best style
for almost any kind of selling. Most industry suppliers are simply pushing
their products or attempting to form relationships, using sales techniques
that are too obvious and/or saying, “Here it is, take it or leave
it.” How do meeting planners respond to these approaches? Most
will leave it. Find out what people truly want and why they want it—then
and only then show how what you are selling solves the problem best.
That is noble. This alone is professional selling.
Questions starting with the word “why” are the hardest to
ask and get answered. But in asking why (better and more) you can discover
dominant buyer motives and serve in a much more noble understanding
and wise way.
After 30 years as a meeting planner and a supplier of speakers to meeting
planners of all types from all industries, I find I may know what the
needs are and what best solves the problem. But in each case I must
continue to prove that I care through listening and prescribing the
best solution that meets specific needs only after asking carefully
crafted questions. We must not assume or presume upon others.
Of my five married children, three are medical doctors. A doctor that
offers a prescription without first completing an examination and offering
a diagnosis is said to be committing malpractice. Many suppliers in
the meetings industry are committing sales malpractice every day because
they are presuming that their products or services are the best or “perfect”
solutions. That is nonsense. Customize your solution to each customer
Convince and Motivate
It is said that persuasion is an art, not a science; however, there
are some steps that are tried and proven for convincing others.
- Offer one fact or feature at a time.
- Offer evidence to back up your claims, preferably visual evidence
- Provide a related buyer benefit by using phrases such as, “which
means to you.” If the fact or feature cannot be translated into
a buyer benefit then forget it.
- Use a wrap-up or tie-down question such as, “That is important
to you, isn’t it?”
Motivation comes from within, and 90 percent of all decisions come
from the heart. In other words, it is not really what people want, it
is why they want it that truly motivates others to buy. Always ask yourself,
“What do they want and why might they want it from me?”
before attempting to close any sale.
Remember you must change your thoughts before you can change your actions
and words, so improve your thoughts consistently and you will change
your habits and your character will improve—as will your results.
Then you change your destiny, too.
In my seminars here is how I diagram it in closing: Thoughts determine
actions, actions determine habits, habits determine character and character
will determine your destiny. May yours be a noble destiny.
Thom A. Lisk, President, Professional Speakers Bureau