Simple Sales Tracking Blog

What Is Your Sales Confidence Level?

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.

Filed under: Sales Techniques and Strategy, , ,

Are You Continually Improving Your Sales Skills?

In a recent article I mentioned the importance of “sharpening the saw” from a concept which Steven Covey talks about. Due to requests I have included the story below which illustrates the importance of taking time out to refresh and sharpen your selling skills.

There were two forestry workers, who were very competitive axemen, who decided they would have a wood chopping competition to see who was the fittest and the better axeman. The rules were simple – whoever chopped the most wood on the day would be declared the undisputed winner. Both were perched a fair distance from each other – barely able to see the figure of the other person. The chopping commenced at dawn. From time to time they both took a look at each other to see how much wood was being chopped. By mid morning the contest was closed.

One of the axemen stopped for about 20 minutes. The other kept chopping to gain an advantage. During mid-day the axeman who took a break in the morning took another break. I’m sure the other guy was thinking, “I’ll get him now”.

They kept chopping. In the middle of the afternoon the break-meister took still another break. The other guy just kept chopping. When the sun had set, the axeman who hadn’t stopped once looked at what he had chopped and felt he had the advantage. He walked some distance to greet his opponent. When he had arrived – he almost went into shock at the sight of the opponent’s chopped wood – which was substantially more than his own. He grumbled, “How did this happen, you stopped chopping three times for breaks and lunch, while I kept chopping. I just don’t understand what happened.” In a soft and deliberate voice the winner said “yes I did stop three times, but you see, it was to sharpen my axe.” Abraham Lincoln once said, “If I had six hours to chop down a big tree, I’d take two hours to sharpen my axe.” You don’t have to be Abraham Lincoln to sharpen your axe.

There are a lot of impersonators out there – pretending to be professional salespeople. They are devoid of any selling skills and basic fundamentals and certainly wouldn’t dream of spending any of their own money on personal development.

Every day you’d better make it a priority to read books and articles, listen to CD’s while driving from account to account, sharpening your axe, (I mean your selling skills) improving your attitude and developing mini-systems, creating your own competitive advantage. The simple truth is, if you don’t sharpen your axe, you could be working with a dull blade and worse still working for the opposition i.e. presenting to prospects and priming them for your competitors to close. The key point to all this is we need to be constantly looking at better ways to improve our skills in whichever field we choose to work if we are to retain our competitive advantage.

The benefits are:

Sales Confidence
– Bigger closing ratios
– Increased Profits

Staff Retention
– Client continuity
– Reduced costs of recruitment

Reduced costs to make sales e.g. higher conversion ratio
– Focused prospecting
– Higher qualified referrals

Many companies can’t find money for training yet spend thousands on advertising and marketing to try to attract new business, instead of converting higher percentage of enquiries they are already receiving.

I will continue with this topic in my next article.

Quote of the Week:

Winners evaluate themselves in a positive manner and look for their strengths as they work to overcome weaknesses.

Zig Ziglar

Brett Burgess is a Sales Trainer and Programme Developer for Sales Impact Group Limited.

Filed under: Sales Techniques and Strategy, , , , ,

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