• Makheni Zonneveld

The what of selling

Updated: Feb 19, 2019

This post is part of the free Q & A Future Readiness service. If you have not yet subscribed please click here or watch the 4-minute video on the homepage of makheni.com. Please click here for previous blogs in the series.

Don't miss out, subscribe today!

This is a continuation of the 'Sell like a pro series'. In case you missed the first one which was an answer to Milton's question, just click here.

Because this service is driven by questions, in answering Milton’s question, I put the cart before the horse. His question was on handling objections so I started the ‘Sell like a pro’ series with what should have been at the end. Handling objections is part of the how of selling. Before looking into the how of selling, a good place to start is the what of selling.

The what of selling is in fact the same as the what of starting a business in the first place. I come across people who ask ‘You coach entrepreneurs, what should I sell?’. My response is always, making the right choices starts with asking the right questions. If you want to start a business, ‘What should I sell?’ is the wrong question. If you look for something to sell then try to find the right people to sell it to and the best way to sell it to them, you are less likely to succeed. The question to ask is ‘What problem do I solve?’ Thus, the starting point is people’s needs.

I get this question a lot: ‘This does not mean I should first ask people what business I should start?’ That is another wrong question. You do not find out from people what business you should start but what solution they need for their problem. Henry Ford put it very well. ‘If I had asked people what they wanted they would have said faster horses.’ He knew that people wanted faster horses but he built a successful business manufacturing cars. What can we learn from this? When people ask for faster horses, what is the actual need? Faster and even safer transport. Everyone who introduced a better mode of transport understood this simple principle. That is why fast long distance trains are still introduced today. People want to travel safer and faster but when all they know is travelling by horse they say they want faster horses.

You can only move from ‘faster horses’ (what people say they need) to ‘cars’ (your solution) if you really understand their underlying needs. You can achieve this through active listening – hearing more than what is said.

The way to succeed in any business is to offer solutions to people’s problems better than anyone else. It is all well and good to have the best solution but you should also know how to communicate that your solution is the best for people’s needs, commonly called ‘pitching your solution’. You do not pitch your solution by saying ‘Hey listen, I offer the best coaching service in the world’ because no one is going to take you seriously. It should always be about meeting needs / solving problems so the starting point of your communication should be the pain of the prospect.

Contrary to popular belief, you do not always have to conduct a survey to find out what people need generally especially when you are part of that society. You should have your ear to the ground, pay attention to what people say and also what is in the media. I did not conduct any survey before deciding to offer online and face2face coaching, seminars and webinars to entrepreneurs. I realised that many had good products/services and their biggest pain was finding clients. I realised that many entrepreneurs are baffled by online marketing and I then looked at what solutions are on offer.

The truth is, most suppliers of online marketing services do not know about marketing at all but only know how social media work so they do not have the know-how when it comes to marketing strategy. I saw a gap as a person who knows about marketing, filled that gap by offering coaching on marketing strategy and partnering with the creator of the world’s best marketing software to offer the best possible solution. This is not Rocket Science. You do not have to be a genius to get to that point. In fact, all you need to get to that point is what I have stated above: Find out what people need and figure out how to offer the best solution either on your own or with others. Click here for the marketing software: https://bit.ly/2C9mrh7.

Decades ago, when I first studied sales and marketing, the first thing that was drilled into our heads was that you should not sell the features but the benefits of your products. That is true but it is only half the story. No matter how eloquently you present the benefits of what you offer, as long as those benefits are presented out of the context of the client’s needs, you might as well be blinking to a blind horse. It’s just not a matter of changing your sales pitch from a features presentation to a benefits presentation. It’s a matter of moving from a features presentation to addressing your client’s needs with your benefits.

It is also about how you position your solution. This starts with you knowing the big picture of what you offer. A typical example that is always used in sales courses is that no one needs a drill but people buy drills because they need holes.

I would like to illustrate this with the story of what happened more than 10 years ago. I presented a keynote address at an event at a college east of Johannesburg. One of the speakers was from the Gideons Society. He asked me if I knew what they do and I confidently said, “Yes, you distribute Bibles.” He then said, “That is what many people think but we don’t distribute Bibles, we spread the Gospel.” What a big difference! When you think you are distributing Bibles you behave totally differently from someone who knows he is doing far more than that. In fact, you wake up in the morning differently from someone who knows he does far more than that. It is like the difference between a bricklayer who says 'I only lay bricks' and his colleague who says 'We are building a cathedral!' This is called reframing.


Whenever I ask people in a workshop to comment on the two pictures they always say that the one on the right hand side is bigger and better. The truth is, it is exactly the same picture in a different frame. Seeing the same issue differently is called reframing. Reframing is not the same as renaming. Unlike mere renaming, reframing entails a different mindset. The two bricklayers mentioned above work for the same company, have the same job title, same job description, same salary, same working conditions and the same supervisor but they live in totally different worlds. How do you see what you offer? Are you like the first or the second bricklayer?

What now?

Reframe your business/products/services in writing

Think of possible questions that your prospects may have and prepare for them

Write down what you are going to do differently as a result of this input

Please share this Q & A service by word of mouth and by word of mouse - you may just help someone.

Face2Face and Online Coaching

I offer these coaching services:

  • Coaching for sole proprietors and owners of small businesses - take your business to the next level or start a business the right way

  • Leadership coaching

  • Career coaching - first career choice or career change

  • Personal effectiveness

For more info please click here.

Next week's topic

More great tips

Till next week

Makheni your Future Readiness Coach

Face2Face and Online Coaching:

These coaching service do not form part of the free service

  • Coaching for sole proprietors and owners of small businesses - take your business to the next level or start a business the right way

  • Leadership coaching - executive and operational level of leadership

  • Career coaching - first career choice or career change

  • Personal effectiveness

To request more info on these services please click here.

Makheni Zonneveld has extensive experience in helping organisations, teams, individuals and entrepreneurs with real transformation. She employs these communications tools: Online and face2face coaching, speaking, training, storytelling and writing.

To enquire on her services or join the mailing list of this free service simply click here: http://www.makheni.com/contact

www.makheni.com - The home of Future Readiness Solutions

Because I respect you, my online services are NOT Zoom quick-fixes

  • Facebook App Icon
  • Twitter Classic
  • YouTube Classic

© 2015 Created by Makheni Zonneveld