Doug Sharpe President of Elasto Proxy
How well do you listen? Do you like to ask questions? When you have the information that you need, do you know what to do with it? Many people think that selling is all about talking. Yes, the ability to speak effectively is important. Salespeople need to write clearly, too, especially when it’s time to communicate instructions. But don’t underestimate the importance of asking for and analyzing answers.
Answers and Application Knowledge
Recently, a group of Elasto Proxy employees visited a Montreal-area restaurant with Andrew Yang, our sales representative in China. Before heading inside, I noticed a front-end loader. Although the operator of this mobile specialty vehicle was busy, he took the time to answer my questions about the door seals. We also talked about the noise, vibration, and overall comfort level inside his cab.
As a custom fabricator of industrial rubber products, Elasto Proxy provides sealing solutions to makers of on-road and off-road equipment. Every application is different, of course, so it’s important to listen to all of the requirements before offering recommendations. In the case of our front-end loader, asking a few questions allowed me to offer some advice about adjusting the floor mats.
Solutions Providers Instead of Salespeople
Several years ago, Elasto Proxy replaced its salespeople with solutions providers. In our Internet Age, there’s plenty of information on the Web – and few people like to be “sold to”. So what do managers, technical buyers, and product designers look for in a potential supplier? In short, they want a partner instead of a provider. By offering solutions instead of products, partners demonstrate commitment.
When I spoke with the operator of the front-end loader, I knew I wouldn’t sell him door seals or anti-vibration components on-the-spot. That wasn’t the point of our conversation. By learning about his user experience, however, I confirmed that the door seals on this particular type of vehicle leak. I also learned that mold under the rubber floor matting is problematic.
The Right Way to Start the Sales Process
In the future, I’ll use what I learned about this front-end loader in my conversations with other mobile specialty vehicle manufacturers. At the same time, I’ll also consider what I don’t know. For example, although I’ve specialized in rubber seals for many years, I don’t consider myself an expert in bearings. But when the operator and I spoke about vibrations and transmissions, I readily shared what I knew.
Asking questions and getting answers is part of the sales process. Applying what you’ve learned to the solutions you can provide is important, too. Just explaining your company’s capabilities is not enough, however. By taking the time to listen and learn, you’ll become a solutions provider instead of a product salesperson. For Elasto Proxy, the art of sealing begins with a question: How can we help you?