Selling to suits vs selling to geeks

In this world there are two types of people: geeks and suits.  They both respond differently to situations and rely on different parts of their brain when it comes to decision making.  Geeks rely on facts while suits rely on emotions.  Our book has been teaching us this all year.  SO when it comes to selling products to them, it’s no different.

The following ten steps are form an article entitled The 10 Laws of Sales Success.  These steps teach you how to sell to best sell to a suit.

  1. Keep your mouth shut and your ears open.
  2. Sell with questions, not answers.
  3. Pretend you’re on a first date with your prospect. Get to know them.
  4. Speak with your prospect as you would speak with family or friends.
  5. Pay close attention to what your prospect isn’t saying.
  6. If you’re asked a question, answer it briefly then move on.
  7. Only after you’ve correctly assessed the needs of your prospect do you mention anything about what you’re offering.
  8. Refrain from delivering a three-hour product seminar.
  9. Ask the prospect if there are any barriers to them taking the next logical step.
  10. Invite your prospect to take some kind of action.

Each of the steps comes to the conclusion of getting to know your prospect then appealing to their emotions.  Suits rely on emotions to help them through almost every decision that they make, so if you are able to relate to them and help them understand how this would help them on an emotional level, you will be able to get them to buy your product very quickly.

But how many geeks would you convince to buy your product with emotions?  Zero.  But luckily Paul Glen and Maria McManus (the authors of our book) have written out the steps for us.

Since we have already read the chapter, I will not go into detail explaining every single difference.  I will simply list the steps they say to take.  If you want to read the entire article, you can find it here.  The steps to selling to geeks are as follows:

  1. Access emotions through reason.
  2. Articulate clear problem statements, not pain points.
  3. Clarify how benefits are achieved.
  4. Build rapport by focusing on work.
  5. Manage risk, don’t just handle objections.

As you can tell, these steps lean strongly toward the facts side of the equations.  Geeks don’t want you to try and relate to them.  Just tell them the problems and the solutions then move on.  Or if necessary, give them a demonstration of your product.  Allow them to poke around in it or show them how well it works.  Let them be technical.  If they start to point out flaws in the product, don’t take offense to it.  It’s just geeks being geeks.

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Recently I went to a presentation for a cookware company called Dinner 4 Two because I won a free honeymoon and in order to get it my fiancé and I had to sit through a sales pitch with a few other couples.  We arrived, prepared for a bombardment of counteroffers each time we refused their products, but we were greatly surprised by what happened.  The audience was a good mix of geeks and suits (this is from my judgement of their personalities) and if began with the man explaining how they weren’t going to force us to buy anything.  He was simply going to demonstrate and explain about their products so we could fully understand how they worked.  He took one of the pots and without adding any sort of oil or non-stick spray, put three pieces of raw chicken in then added spices and left it on a small portable stove (like the ones you see in college dorms).  He talked for around half and hour, explaining what their products were and how they worked.  The only things he did to the pot of chicken was turn a knob to vacuum seal the pot when it whistled.

When the talk was over, he pulled the chicken out, giving it and the vegetables he made to the couples to taste (it was delicious).  Then, he simply poured cold water into the pot and wiped it out and nothing stuck.  It was one of the best presentations I have ever attended.  Not only did the man appeal to suits by appealing to emotions they have felt while using cheap cookware, but he also proved that the product worked to the geeks by demonstrating exactly what the cookware did.

In conclusion, if you want to be a good salesperson then you need to be able to appeal to both suits and geeks.  You have to be able to judge your customer quickly and decide which route will be best to take: emotions or facts.  Make sure that you can separate them in order to impress your customer.  But you have to judge them correctly the first time.  if you’re wrong, you will lose them fast.  But don’t worry,  being able to tell who is a suit and who is a geek will get easier over time.  Just don’t give up.

Though I would probably by anything if it was presented to me like this video.

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