Stop Selling Features And Benefits, It’s Not What Customers Are Buying

Article by Susan Villamena, President & CEO, Acrylic Flooring Inc.

Prior to running Acrylic Flooring, I spent 25 years as a franchisee for Sandler Sales Training. In that business, I trained thousands of sales people and sales managers on the Sandler method of selling. As part of that work, I spent an equal amount of time working with the owners, managers and CEO’s of those companies, consulting with them on how to best lead their sales teams. I know, an unusual background for someone in the construction industry! At first blush, it does seem like a disconnect, but if you look closer, it makes total sense. I quickly came to see that my years with the Sandler organization was the single most impactful experience of my life, both professionally and personally. It was during those years that I learned more about people and business than I ever could have imagined.

When I bought my franchise, and became fully entrenched in the world of selling, my universe expanded exponentially. During those years David Sandler, the founder, helped me see that selling is a profession, like every other profession. Not just something you do because you couldn’t get into law school. He opened my eyes to a whole new way to sell and introduced a set of beliefs to go along with it. He called these beliefs, “rules”. It was living by these “rules” that enabled me to leave my franchise and venture into a new a business that I knew nothing about but had a lot of enthusiasm for.  All I knew is that I understood the process of selling and that it didn’t matter what the product was.

Believe it or not, there are 100 different rules or principles. Each one is a gem, but the one rule that has always been my guiding light is knowing…

I can’t sell anybody anything… because people buy for their reasons, not mine.

Prospects buy for one reason… to avoid or get out of Pain. Pain, as David Sandler described it is, the gap between where a person is and where they want to be. Pain is personal to the prospect and I needed to learn how to avoid injecting my own needs into the conversation. Pain either exists or it doesn’t. I can’t create it and I can’t inflict it. I can only uncover it, with the prospect.

Perhaps you’ve been selling menu ideas for a food distributor on Long Island, or you sell equipment and supplies for a dealer in NJ. If you’ve been in sales for any amount of time, it’s so easy to get stuck in the routine of showing your products and services, hoping for an order and going on to the next one. Maybe you’re convinced that strategy is working for you. However, I would challenge that belief. After years of experience, I can confidently say, that unless you stay sharp and introduce new selling strategies into your business, you are undoubtedly leaving thousands and thousands of dollars on the street. Dollars that should have been yours, that you left there because you weren’t working a system. And that system starts with understanding Pain as the key motivator for making a buying decision.  This concept isn’t a negative one. In fact, it’s respectful. Why would you want to sell someone who didn’t have Pain? To do otherwise is self-centered. Remember, it’s not about us. The only thing that matters on a sales call is, do our prospects want and need what we have?

The good news is, it’s not hard to determine if your prospect has Pain. If you ask the right questions, they will tell you. For example, try asking, “how were you hoping I could help you?” Or “what is happening that prompted you to agree to this meeting?” I’m not a script lover, but I think you get the point. Ask an opening question that focuses on uncovering the Need. The Need for something usually means there’s an underlying Pain behind it. How will you know your prospect has pain? They use words like, frustrated, disappointed, worried, concerned or any emotional words that describe the “gap”. When your prospect uses words like this you have created the opening to take them through a discovery process to see if the problem is serious enough to be solved and paving the way toward making a buying decision rather than being sold.

Host Milano January 2019 728×90

Next time… A Selling System that Works?

Susan Villamena, Acrylic Flooring Inc.

Susan Villamena is the President and CEO of Fairfield, NJ based Acrylic Flooring Inc. Prior to taking the reigns at the Garden State flooring concern Ms Villamena spent 25 years teaching sales with Sandler Sales. She can be reached 914-804-7988 or via email at with questions about sales or her quick drying floors.