Any piece of information you receive from or about a customer needs to be validated.
No matter how long you have been in sales, you know that bad information can steer you horribly wrong and maybe even cost you sales and professional relationships.
If you receive information about one of your customers or about something happening in their company or industry, don’t automatically take the information at face value.
For one, the information could be flat out wrong. Or, it could have been presented to you in such a way that someone was trying to skew your opinion on a particular issue or industry-related matter.
Of course, there is the possibility too that someone unknowingly or innocently conveyed a piece of information wrong.
You get the point.
Of all the things you hear and see, a few erroneous pieces of information are bound to sneak through.
How do you validate information?
If it is information you have heard about a particular customer or something happening in their company, try to confirm the information with someone else in the company. Obviously, you need to be wise about maintaining integrity and confidences, but at the same time, clarifying something you have heard is just a wise way to do business.
You can also validate information simply through follow-up questions with your customer. It is not unusual through your follow-up questions to have the customer share vital information that reveals the bigger picture of what may be happening.
Another way to validate information, especially in the B2B world, is to stay on top of trends and current news in the industries of your particular customers. A key way you can do this is to follow the trade associations and publications your customers may be involved with.
Not only do these extra steps allow you to validate information, they also make you aware of opportunities you otherwise would miss.
I like to say that as a salesperson, you are your customer’s research and development department. The more information you have that is comprehensive and accurate, the easier it is for you to enter into meaningful dialogue with your customer at their point of need.
Now, if you would rather just blindly accept every little piece of information you receive, that’s an option too. But I guarantee that you will pay a price for this — maybe immediately, but definitely later on.
You won’t be able to best match your products and services with the genuine needs and wants of the customer, because you will lack an understanding of crucial circumstances.
Trust me on this: Validate information or pay the price later on.
Copyright 2012, Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter.” Sales Motivation Blog.