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The One Minute Manager and the One-Minute Salesman

Most folks have heard of the book, The One Minute Manager by Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson written in the early 1980’s. The one minute summary of the book is this…listen to workers review and analyze what they have done, the problems they had doing it and what still needs to be accomplished. Then, help them develop plans and strategies until the next periodic update. The decisions are made at those periodic updates.

The one minute strategy requires a focused manager. Being a good salesperson also requires focus. But often times, the focus is on the wrong thing. A typical salesperson tends to focus on why the customer needs to buy a product or service because of its features. Instead, research indicates that customers want to hear about how the product’s features will benefit them. That is the essence of the one-minute salesman. Can you teach your customer the benefits of your products features…in one minute? Why one minute? Who pays attention any longer than that today?

So the crux of selling is actually teaching. Consider the problem of trying to sell the new Chevy Volt. The Volt is priced thousands of dollars above one of it’s competitors, the Nissan Leaf. These are the two most recently introduced ultra-efficient cars. Each offers some form of efficient family transportation. The benefit of the Volt is that it doesn’t need to be recharged…it has a small gas engine that charges the batteries. The benefit of the Leaf is that it is a true electric car…and with that comes limited range. The sales process is a matter of teaching the customer about the benefits of each product.

In order teach your customer about the product in one minute the preparation is vitally important. It is very much like a focused elevator pitch.

• Dress the part. Dress in a manner appropriate for your customers. Don’t let your fashion be a distraction. You’ve only got a minute…keep the customer focused on the product, not your flip flops.

• Know your customer. Research is critical. An analysis of your customer’s habits, lifestyle, demographics, purchasing trends, and background should influence the way you engage them. If you only have one minute of their attention you need to quickly get to the point about how your product benefits them. In essence, this means that you have already segmented everyone around you into those that could benefit from your product from those that might not. One minute sales folks don’t spend their time with those that they cannot benefit. Do the customer analysis so that you can focus on the right customer. The one that can benefit.

• Know your products/services benefits. Don’t provide so much information that you confuse the customer. Remember, it isn’t about the features. It is about what benefit those features provide. For example, both the Volt and the Leaf are efficient cars. Efficiency is their key feature. However, the benefit of the Volt’s efficiency is that the car can go well beyond the (approximately) 100 mile range of the electric Leaf. Therefore, the concern about having to charge your car during extended trips is not a problem with the Volt. That is the primary benefit!

• Know the competition. Most would argue that you always need to be familiar with your industry. Take this further. Describe the benefits your product in a manner that compares it to the competition. An instant turn-off in this one minute is to simply say that you do not have any competition. While there may not be products like yours, there will always be alternative products! Compare and contrast the benefits of your product against the competition. The best way to do this is to buy the competition’s product. Use it. Use yours. Then weave the differences into your pitch as engaging personal stories as if you were sharing them with a new friend.

Dress the part. Know your customer. Know your product. Know the competition. Then rehearse your one minute lesson for the customer. When the time comes, and you have a customer to engage, don’t pitch your lesson. Instead, LISTEN! The one minute salesperson listens for most of that time. Do not jump into your well-researched and well-rehearsed sales pitch. Let the customer describe their need before you teach them about how your product satisfies that need and benefits them. When I walk into the Chevy dealer and say that I want an efficient vehicle that doesn’t always mean I’m interested in a new Volt. Listen to me first. Let me describe efficient. I’ve got a wife, three kids, two dogs, a cat, and periodically tow a trailer and haul a girls soccer team around. I’m not in the market for a Volt. I might just be downsizing from an SUV to a crossover, a Suburban to a Traverse. That is efficiency to me.

Disclaimer: Sorry to all those hybrid owners out there. Size matters. I’ve got stuff to haul!

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