[Posted by Mike Scher, February 1, 2016]   Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 1 second

As the Co-Founder of FRONTLINE Selling, I speak at and attend numerous events. I encounter a lot of people, exchange business cards and connect on LinkedIn.

My contact info gets plugged into their CRM systems, and I receive random calls and emails, primarily from technology vendors who want to sell me their ‘cool’ technology. If every rep understood what I really want from them, I wouldn’t have to write this article. But as you’ve already guessed, that isn’t the case. Let’s dissect a typical sales experience to uncover what executives like myself want…and don’t want…from a sales rep.

The Call

This is where the majority of sales reps stumble. Some of the calls I receive are clearly made with a dialer or dialing service that has that unnatural and annoying delay.  Others are made by reps that have a hard time with the basic tenets of communicating. I think they are surprised to actually get me on the phone and stumble over their words, clearly unprepared for an executive discussion. As they are gathering their wits about them, they nervously ask “How are you doing?” Some don’t even introduce themselves or the name of their company (seriously?). To say the least, I’m not impressed with most of the initial contacts.

But occasionally, someone does everything right and piques my interest. When I am approached by a rep that is articulate, competent, effective AND their solution or technology is of interest, I am happy to agree to an appointment.  What ensues from there is agonizing.

The Appointment

First comes the calendar invite with a link to some screen share like Webex or Gotomeeting.  When we get on the call, the rep typically begins the web presentation immediately and often reads the slides verbatim (which certainly doesn’t convey a high level of comfort with their product knowledge). Then, they launch directly into the product demo, explaining a litany of ‘cool’ features and flashy applications.

When I am actually afforded the opportunity to ask a question (or I stop them from talking so I can), every question I ask comes with a response beginning with “let me show you…” Then they dive into a long-winded product functionality demonstration. This is the most infuriating response to my question. Why? Because that’s not what I asked for.

Demos are too often used as a crutch for sales people. Reps believe that if they show me enough features, I will eventually find something I like and get excited enough to buy.  It doesn’t work that way.

The Revelation

Guess what, Mr. Sales Rep? I DON’T WANT TO SEE YOUR DEMO!  I want you to simply answer my question, because I trust you will answer me honestly. If your product can do what I’m asking, great. If not, just say no. It doesn’t mean that I won’t buy from you—you have no idea if that one feature is a deal breaker for me or not.

Here is what I really want: Take the time to understand my business problem and solve it for me. Executives want sales people to help them solve problems—period.  We will spend time with you if you are sincere and genuinely interested in understanding our business and sharing how your product/service can help.

The Bottom Line

Does the appointment I described resemble a demonstration you have given? If so, I challenge you to rethink your approach and concentrate on offering true value to your prospects. Be curious. When you’re being curious, you cannot be arrogant, and this allows you to focus on uncovering your prospect’s business problem—which is why they are talking to you in the first place.

Don’t show us your product—show us your solution.