Confidence is a huge issue for many salespeople.
Following on from my last article regarding order takers and their comfort zones, my focus today is around the issue of confidence. This is something that always comes up when discussing prospecting for new business.
The truth is not many salespeople feel absolutely comfortable in approaching new prospects with the sole purpose of selling them their product or service.
Confidence comes from knowledge. With salespeople there are two types of knowledge that they must have. The first is they must have a thorough understanding of the products and services they offer and just as importantly the application of these. The next type of knowledge is based around a complete understanding of sales planning, prospecting, and presentation processes.
Firstly let’s look at the sales presentation, or as I like to call them sales interviews as in today’s selling environment our goal at the first meeting is not to present but rather to interview the prospect to uncover explicit needs that we can possibly help with. So if we agree that it is a sales interview then we need to have a list of prepared questions to ask the prospect.
Some interesting statistics I uncovered from a US Survey on sales presentations found that 86% of salespeople ask the wrong questions.
The plan then is to develop questions that lead to uncovering needs and implications and formulate these into a process.
So its all about preparation, remember this leads to confidence. The National Cash Register Co (NCR) was the pioneer in developing a “canned” sales presentation. The canned approach they used which most of us have heard about is known as “AIDA”- Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action.
NCR trained every one of their salespeople in this sales process.
While the sequence worked the process failed as it was too wordy and the salespeople were expected to deliver it verbatim and spoke parrot wise and that’s of course how it came across. This was in the 1920’s, interesting some companies are still using verbatim scripts today – these are what most people recognize as “canned” presentations.
What I suggest is a planned approach to your sales interview as opposed to the canned version.
We need to have an agenda or sequence that we follow when interviewing new prospects. This achieves a number of call objectives –
1. It makes the best use of your time and just as importantly your prospects
2. It provides a logical flow to the conversation
3. It uncovers the need if one exists
4. It highlights buying signals for you and the prospect
5. It leads you to asking for the business.
By developing a process that we follow in each presentation we become more confident as we have a track to run on leading to our destination – more sales!
Just to illustrate the power of good questioning and how it invokes thought and focuses our thinking, here is a question to ponder –
If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one ability or quality, what would it be?
Brett Burgess is a Sales Trainer and Programme Developer for Sales Impact Group.