My Mechanic, the Salesman

Written by David Jackson

A car with an iPhone

I recently started having problems with my car and needed to find a good mechanic. Having not needed a mechanic in a while, I didn't have a go-to company, and instead had to call a few companies I found online.

The first couple of companies I spoke with seemed like your standard mechanic shops… not good or bad, just matter of fact.

  • "Yes we work on your type of car."

  • "Our hourly rate is $85"

  • "You can bring it by tomorrow at 7 AM"

They did a great job TELLING me the facts about their company.

The third shop I called took a totally different approach. Before giving me any information about their company, they asked several detailed questions about me and my car and the problems I was having. Once they determined that they could help solve my problem, they casually explained the value and benefits their company offers…

  • "All of our mechanics hold expert level certifications"

  • "All of our mechanics have 5+ years of experience"

  • "We use only factory certified parts"

  • "We have three locations to serve you etc."

Only then did they tell me their hourly rate, and suggest a time for me to bring my car by.

In short, the third shop SOLD me on their company, and the first didn't. But why? I'm sure the first two shops have plenty of value propositions that set them apart from their competitors, but they either didn't understand them, or didn't know how to communicate them to me.

The difference between telling and selling

Surprisingly, I've had similar experiences with various types of sales professionals, selling everything from cars to software. Communicating facts and providing information to the buyer isn't the same as selling.

This seems obvious, but as salespeople it's our job to help buyers understand how our product or service will benefit them, and why they should buy from us, IN ADDITION to explaining the basic facts of what our product or service does.

We should never assume that buyers understand the value our product or service offers.

As sales professionals we spend all day thinking about our product / service, so to us the benefits and advantages of what we are selling seem obvious. But we must remember that customers likely know little about us, our product, our company, and the value we offer, so it's our job to educate them.

Here's an overly simple example

The wrong way to sell a window:

  • This is a window

  • Push up to open it

  • Push down to close it

  • Use the latch to lock it

The right way:

  • Windows are a wonderful addition to your home.

  • They let in natural light and improve the ambiance of every room.

  • You can open them to let in fresh, healthy air, by pushing up.

  • Leaving them open at night lets in cool air, which can lower your electric bills.

  • To close them just push down, keeping the warm air in, and the cold air out.

  • Use the security latch to lock the window when you're not home, keeping your home safe and secure.

This may seem obvious to a lot seasoned sales pros, but it's always good to go back to the basics every now and then, and ask yourself, are you telling or selling?

Written by David Jackson

David runs the business side of things at FullStack Labs. He has over a decade of experience building technology companies, products, and teams for leading Silicon Valley companies.