Simple Sales Tracking Blog

What Is Your Sales Impression?

As has been discussed in earlier articles, sales teams need to have a process to follow when presenting to new prospects to ensure more consistent closing ratios.

In my experience very few companies I have seen have taken the time to identify the most effective process for selling their products or services which brings me to a sales principle which states:

“For every product category and market segment there is a best practice sales process which ensures optimum sales”

The key is to identify what creates sales and what doesn’t and develop the process into a standard operating procedure.  This will only come about through measurement.

Unfortunately without a process salespeople are left to their own resources and do the best they can.  These same salespeople are given sales targets to meet and budgets to achieve without the sales formula/process to follow and spend most of their time “flying by the seat of their pants”.

So if we agree we need to have a formulated approach to our sales the process could look something like this –

-Introductions and pleasantries
-Agenda set
-Discover needs through prepared questions
-Discussing solutions
-Ask for commitment

Let’s look at introductions and pleasantries.  This is the most critical phase of the whole sales process as the decision to buy from you will be made in the first few minutes of meeting you. The fact that we make decisions about people so quickly is just part of human nature.

Research done with 267 Human Resource Managers from the Fortune 500 companies in America showed that on average they decided that a candidate would get the position being applied for within 40 seconds of meeting them.  They then went on to conduct exhaustive tests and interviews to prove they had made the right choice. 

Think of your own attitudes – have you ever had the experience where you have met someone for the first time and taken an instant dislike to them?   The fact is we don’t buy from people we don’t like!

The keys to this phase are to be on time or 5 minutes early, be professionally presented, have professional tools e.g. high quality compendium, a good quality pen, professional looking business cards, rate cards etc.   There is nothing worse than asking someone for their business card and they pull a dog-eared looking card out of their wallet and hand it over!   Your dress and stationary need to be appropriate to the type of clients you are presenting to.     I was meeting with a senior executive recently and suggesting the company invest in some very good quality leather compendiums for their sales team.   He very graciously pointed out that the majority of their clients were intent on preserving nature – we agreed a recyclable/hessian type compendium would be the order of the day!

You look good, you are on time – now what do you say?

The old school sales trainers would suggest you identify something the buyer may be interested in through observation e.g. they may have a marlin mounted on their office wall – most salespeople would begin by commenting on the fish.  I believe there is a factory in China producing these fish to sell to buyers as an accessory to catch newby salespeople who are trying to build rapport!

My recommendation if you are serious about helping the prospect is to thank them for their time, mention your referral source and then get down to business.

Most prospects are short of time and have answered the same fish questions hundreds of times before– respect their time.

We will look at how to set the agenda of your sales meeting in my next article.

Quote of the Week:

Most people think “selling” is the same as “talking”.   But the most effective salespeople
know that listening is the most important part of their job.

                                                                                          Roy Bartell 

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

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

Do You Use Manipulative Closing?

We have been looking at the closing phase of the sales presentation and last time I touched briefly on objections.

Sales trainers in the past would spend a large proportion of their time teaching methods of overcoming objections. Indeed a common myth propagated by these trainers was that objections were in fact strong buying signals, however studies by Huthwaite have shown where there are a number of objections that closing ratios go down correspondingly.

Our goal as professionals is not to learn 100 objection handling techniques but rather to answer all questions in the buyers mind before we present our solutions.

To achieve this you need to follow a process with your questioning. It is not about firing 101 questions at the buyer. It is about having prepared questions that follow in logical sequence.

Once you have a process for your sales they cease to be a problem. If you don’t systemize your sales they will continue to frustrate and give you inconsistent results. Look at other business models – Ray Kroc of McDonalds is a great example – he developed processes for everything. In 1989 McDonalds were making 10 million dollars a day worldwide by asking one question – you guessed it – “would you like fries with that?”. This shows you the value of processes and also asking the right question. I will be looking at questions in my next article.

Very few salespeople follow a planned sales presentation and so very few are truly successful. It has been my experience that in today’s selling environment the most successful people I see coming through our programmes are the ones who have developed the key elements of the sales process into systems and preplan their interviews.

If we don’t have a system for uncovering buyer needs then we must rely on the old “show and tell” which invariably leads us to the most ineffective way of closing the sales known as manipulative closing and unfortunately these are still taught today.

Some examples (they even have names!)

Distraction Close – catch them in a weak moment Embarrassment Close – make not buying embarrassing Hurry Close – go fast to stop them thinking too much Now-or-never Close – to hurry things up Ultimatum Close – show negative consequences of not buying

And a real oldie of interest is the “Ben Franklin Close –

The Ben Franklin Close

This “close” uses logic to get the closer’s point across to the customer. It is a good “close” to use on a customer who is a thinker or who is reserved and overly cautious when buying a product.

How the Ben Franklin Close is Used –

“Mr Customer, in America everybody has always regarded Ben Franklin as a pretty smart fellow. When Ben Franklin had a problem to solve or something important to figure out and make a decision on, he would take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle of it. On the left side of the paper he would write the word “Yes” and on the right half he would write the word “No”. In the “Yes” column Ben would make a list of all the positive and beneficial factors that would favour his decision to pursue or purchase something. And in the “No” column he would list all of the reasons for not doing or not buying something. When Ben was finished with this “Yes” and “No” process, he could simply look at the list and his decision would already be made for him. He would either have more yes’s or more no’s. It was that simple. Mr Customer, why don’t we try that and see what happens, it sure can’t hurt?”

Note: The closer should hand the customer a sheet of paper and a pen and have the customer fill out the “Yes” and “No” column. The closer should tactfully assist the customer on the “Yes” side by giving out suggestions, but on the “No’ side keep quiet and not say a thing. The “Yes” side will always, with the closer’s help, win. When this process is finished the closer should look the customer straight in the eye and ask him to give the product a try.)

It’s a fundamental truth in sales that pressure causes objections and ultimately rejection of your solution.

In today’s market buyers have seen it all and heard it all and are well aware of when salespeople are using manipulative sales techniques on them.

Why would you bother?

Quote of the Week –

I once heard a car salesman say, “I peddle metal.”
Well I disagree. To the extent I do “peddle” anything.
I sell helpfulness and solutions. That to me is the heart of the sales experience.
That’s what a good salesperson really does – identifies a need and fills it.

Marion Luna Brem

Brett Burgess is a Sales Trainer and Programme Developer for Moss and Associates International.

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


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