I Keep Six Honest Serving Men…

You may be familiar with Rudyard Kipling’s poem “I Keep Six Honest Serving Men,” which begins as follows:

I keep six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.

The late Alan MacNaughton, a dear friend and work associate, once contributed an article to our newsletter that referenced Kipling’s poem and that referenced Kipling’s “friends” as the “Six Golden Words of Selling.” The gist of his article is as follows:

Successful selling is a process of determining a customer’s needs and presenting your product or service to satisfy those needs.

The order is critical
It’s also important to realize and apply the proper sequence. First determine the customer’s problems, wants, and needs before presenting your product or service as a solution.

The method of determining these needs is to ask questions using those six golden words and listening to the answers.

Weak sales presentations tend to be characterized by the salesperson doing far too much talking, presenting features, advantages, and benefits without having established if the customer is even a prospect for the product or service.

As an example, in my own business I frequently receive telephone solicitations from companies who collect bad debts or past-due trade receivables. Most often the solicitor will take some time detailing their company’s track record and techniques.

Rarely will I be asked, “How big a problem do you have with bad debts?” This would be a very revealing question since we don’t have a bad debt problem and are not a prospect for such services.

As always, well said Alan!

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