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, , , , ,

Where Are Your Questions Leading?

We have been looking at developing a questioning process for our presentations and how most salespeople are so desperate to talk about their products and services and all the solutions they can provide they end up talking too much and presenting solutions too soon therefore losing potential sales.

The trouble is the salesperson has seen the prospects problem many times before and therefore knows which solution would work best for them so jumps from problem straight to solution without helping the buyer to understand how big an issue they have.

There is only one perception that counts in a sales presentation – the buyers! We have to help them understand through our questions the need to take action. Asking the right questions will uncover the real issues and more importantly uncover the true buying motives of the prospect.

When I ask participants in my sales training workshops why they don’t ask more structured questions typical replies are –

“I don’t feel confident”
“I’ve never been trained”
“It takes too long”
“Prospects may be reluctant to answer”
“I’d be embarrassed”

The real result of a lack of structure in questioning is lost sales and increased costs of making sales.

Great questions require your prospects to think, they demonstrate your understanding of their needs, and they give you a clear picture of your prospects exact needs which in turn positions you to present the best possible solution.

Old sales training used to focus on only using open questions – questions that require a greater response answer as opposed to closed questions – questions that only require a yes or no answer.

Project Sigma sponsored by IBM and other corporations and conducted by Neil Rackham and his team observed over 35,000 sales calls in 23 countries found that calls high in closed questions were just as likely to lead to orders and advances. This is not so strange as it may at first appear. In theory, open questions result in open answers, while closed questions produce one-word answers. But in practice, this is not always the case. In the context of a sales call, 60 percent of all closed questions receive an answer that is longer than one word. In other words, closed questions very often get open answers. And about 10 percent of all open questions get a closed answer. The important thing is to ask skillful questions that move the call forward. “If you are worrying about things like how many open questions you’re asking”, Neil says, “You’re rearranging the deck chairs on a sinking ship. What you should be worrying about is: Are your questions focused on issues that are important to the customer?”

If you only ever buy one book on selling I would recommend that book be SPIN Selling by Neil Rackham. Neil has lead the revolution in selling. The key of course is to then read it and take action.

Structured questions channel the buyers thinking and help THEM tick off their own buying signals in their mind as the interview progresses.

I’ll deal more with the question of questions in the next article.

Quote of the Week:
“Generally speaking you aren’t learning much if your lips are moving”

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

Filed under: Sales Techniques and Strategy, , , ,


Simple Sales Tracking is web-based sales CRM software for the tracking, analysis and forecasting of individual and team sales pipeline and contacts.

Built with simplicity at its core, focus is kept on key sales tasks, while eliminating unnecessary ones, helping to ensure buy-in of the entire sales team.
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