Every sale is not a good sale
About 25% of all sales calls are bad calls in one way or another. They either leave the customer disappointed or the seller with excess costs and diminished returns.
Often salespeople are so concerned with getting the order, that they write business that is not good for themselves, their company, or the customer. Walking away from a situation that is not profitable for anyone is the right thing to do. Not the easy thing to do, but the right thing. It requires that the salesperson become comfortable with hearing and saying “no”, and moving on to the next opportunity. When professionals move on, they open themselves more quickly to higher levels of opportunity and success.
Spectacular success is always preceded by unspectacular presentation
Traditional selling tells us that if the salesperson is clever enough to say all the right “sales stuff”, he or she will be successful. This is far from the truth. Sales pros know that the effort put into understanding the customer and his or her industry is what is truly vital to success. Understanding the customer’s critical issues and problems, and recognizing the business opportunities that arise from them, takes time and dedication. Success does not lie in presentations about ourselves but in understanding the customer.
Do not allow the customer to self-diagnose
This is not to say that the customer isn’t intelligent. It’s just that they don’t make a decision regarding your products or services all that often. A customer may only make such decisions once a year or sometimes less often. Sales reps, on the other hand, continually diagnose customers with similar situations. The successful sales professional takes on the role of a trusted advisor or consultant.
You have competitors. Your customers have options
When you are with your customers, don’t refer to your competitors as competitors. For example by asking a question like “Who are some of our competitors that you are considering?”, it conveys a very traditional sales image of concern about the competition in the sales process versus concern over the customer’s situation. A better question could even be, “What are some of the options you are considering?” And remember that your real competition is not your competitors, but is in fact the willingness and ability of your prospect and customer to change.
Never ask for the order
If you have to “ask for the order”, it should be clear that your customer has missed something and it’s your fault. If the diagnostic protocols have been followed and the customer has recognized problems (pains) that can be eliminated by your solution, the decision to buy will come as the next step in a well-executed quality decision step. The arm wrestling of the traditional selling process is replaced by the acknowledgement that a mutually beneficial business relationship is developing.
You will gain more credibility through the questions you ask than the statements you make
Every prospect expects salespeople to say good things about themselves and the products they sell. Thus the statements you make are rarely taken seriously and are frequently discounted. What is taken seriously is the concern and knowledge you display in learning about the customer’s situation. Ask thought-provoking questions which will help you to understand the customer’s unique situation and will help you and the customer to manage quality decisions. When the customer hears your well thought out (not trapping or leading) question, they say to themselves, “He wouldn’t be asking me that if he didn’t understand our business.”
Always be leaving
Customers have learned through annoying experiences that a traditional salesperson won’t take no for an answer. They hang on to their customers like a bulldog on a postman’s leg. Consider that the customer’s view could be valid. Displaying a willingness to accept the customer’s view will greatly reduce the tension and cause the customer to be more comfortable in expressing their real feelings. This relaxes both of you and helps build an atmosphere of mutual trust.
Don’t get emotionally involved
Salespeople don’t have problems, their customers do. As you perform your diagnosis and lead the customer through a quality process, “yes” is not a problem and neither is a qualified “no”. The customer who is losing money due to inability to get a finished product through a quality test has a problem. It is only when you feel the need to get the order now – when you come across as too hungry – that you run into problems. The professional operates with an objective and clear mind and methodically unravels the customer’s challenges so both the salesperson and the customer can come to a mutually beneficial understanding of the problem and the alignment of the solution. Being emotionally involved is being defensive and biased toward your needs.
People never say what they really mean
“The problem the prospect brings you is never the real problem.” People learn from a very early age that saying what is really on their minds can have negative consequences. As a result, they are programmed to be cautious and don’t express their real feeling until they feel “safe enough” with another person. The professional salesperson “peels the onion” to allow the customer a feeling of safety, which allows for the free expression of thoughts, opinions, and feelings. In fact, we don’t have to agree with our customers in order to do business – we just have to respect and understand their view of the world. Before you answer questions make sure you know what is being asked – learn to get the customer to define things like reliability, quality, expensive, long time, etc. Two things happen when you do this; they share more information with you and they begin to feel understood.
You can’t sell a group
A guaranteed prescription for failure is to present to a group without having first identified and appealed to the critical perspectives of its members on an individual basis (each person may have a unique set of “pains” that you should have already identified) By the time you present the solution, there should be no surprises for anyone. Everyone should be aware of how the proposed solution might impact them, and enough support should exist to guarantee that the group decision will be a mere formality prior to implementation of the solution. Presentations made to groups should not be the reason to get business, but rather a confirmation that the business already exists. If you are relying on your presentation to make the sale, you are putting too much pressure on yourself.