- Try telling prospects and customers up front that you plan to follow up by asking them, “What are the best ways to keep in touch with you?” You might find that they prefer to hear from you by fax or e-mail. You can also learn other things – that they’re not really interested in buying or that if you don’t get back to them by a certain date the decision will be made and you might be out.
Source: Selling! June, 1998
- Post Sales Call Critiques
Everything that you do should be viewed as a learning experience. Every sales call should be an opportunity to try a new approach or technique or polish an old one. The more you take advantage of this practice the more professional you’ll become.
But don’t forget Sales critiquing yourself after the sales call. Simply ask yourself several questions:1. What did I do right?
2. What did the prospect respond to?
3. What didn’t go over with the prospect?
4. Did I make any major mistakes?
5. If I had to do it over again, what would I change?
Once you’ve do this, make mental notes to remedy the problems and then forget they happened and reinforce the positive aspects of the call. One tip – keep building your presentation on the aspects that prospects respond to – they will tend to be hot buttons that other prospects might also respond to.
- The Payoff Question
Most sales people know how to probe and gather information about their customers. However, many sales people cannot get past this phrase. They dance around, but don’t know how to move the customer forward toward the sale. The key is to have a payoff question. These are questions that help the customer to formulate in their minds how your product or service can help them to solve their problem. Some samples of these questions include:1. If we could improve the quality of your output, how would that assist you?
2. If we could increase your visibility in the market, how would that affect your business?
3. If we could improve the training of your employees, how would that affect your sales and service?
Once you are able to get the customer to articulate why your product or service will benefit them, its a simple step to ask for the sale. You have allowed the customer to convince himself or herself why they need your product or service. If that’s not a buying sign, I don’t know what is.
- Check Your Telephone Effectiveness
Phone work is a big part of the sales person’s responsibility. Much of the groundwork you do is done over the telephone. How effective are you over the phone? Check your phone skills with this simple test:1. Do you prepare a list of the key points that you wish to discuss before you make each call?
2. Do you treat the receptionist, secretary or phone screener with a positive attitude and with respect?
3. When you make a call, is the information you need to refer to, readily at hand and organized for quick reference?
4. Do you take notes during your conversation, especially important facts and comments for future reference?
- Seven Questions to Qualify a ProspectHave you ever felt that the sales was in the bag, only to be totally crushed when it was lost to a competitor? Try the following questions as you qualify the next prospect.
1. Does the prospect have good and solid reasons to buy from you?
2. Have you clearly and concisely identified the prospect’s needs?
4. Have the funds been allocated and approved for the purchase?
5. Have all levels of management agreed to this purchase?
6. Have you discussed your proposal with the decision maker and has the decision maker approved your sale?
7. Do your products provide solutions that will meet the prospect’s expectations?
- Establishing Credibility on a Cold Call
When you walk in the door to see any prospect, remember that you’re not the only sales person they have ever seen. If you try rapport building tactics used by every other sales person you’ll appear to be transparent and superficial. At worst, you’re appear to be a green rookie.
If you start off with a cold product presentation, the prospect can blow you away with objections, just to get rid of you.
What you need to do is to ask questions that will get your prospect’s attention. The level of intelligence in your questioning should demonstrate that you’ve done your homework. When you listen to their answers, you have now gotten their attention. A sincere level of interest shows the prospect that you’re smart enough to know that you need to listen to what the prospect has to say, not what you have to say and sell.
- The Persistence Payoff
If you make 100 cold phone calls you will get on average:
* 50 prospects who are not available.
* 20 prospects who ask you to call back.
* 10 prospects who completely uninterested.
* 10 prospects who request more information
* 10 prospects who will agree to see you.
To develop more sales you need to systematically work the 50 prospects who are not available and the 30 prospects who requested additional information or asked that you call back. Remember that only 10 prospects were not interested in your product or service. Try this approach to working your prospects more diligently and you can see your sales double or triple.
- Using Open Ended Questions
Many sales people can’t resist selling at the first opportunity. After all time is money and if we can shorten the sales cycle – why not? The truth is that it’s important to get the customer’s full story before proposing anything. The secret to this is to ask more comprehensive, open ended questions. For those who don’t know, an open ended question requires an answer besides yes or no. The tip is if you want to get a handle on your status with your prospect, ask questions that get the customer rate their answer on a scale. For instance:
“On a scale of eleven, how confident are you that this sale will actually happen?”
Most probably the prospect will answer: “five.” Five is the middle ground. If the prospect answers with an eight or nine, then you know you’re on the right track. Ask: “What are some of the things we need to do to move this up to a ten or eleven?”
If the prospect answers with a three or four, it’s time to go back to the drawing board and do more research.
Scale your open ended questions to get a handle of your progress withthe prospect.
- Watch Those Signals
It’s hard enough to get an appointment with a prospect or a client. The last thing that you want to do is to give signals, either verbally or non verbally that will cause your client to prematurely cut your meeting short. It’s important that you understand your negotiating style and to try to match it with those of the customer. If the customer likes facts, providing broad generalities in your presentation will only discourage the client from continuing to negotiate. All you end up doing is frustrating them. Some bad habits that send the wrong signal and should be avoided at all costs include:
* Dominating the conversation.
* Continually interrupting the prospect.
* Putting words into the prospect’s mouth.
* Anticipating what the client or prospect is going to say and completing the sentence for them.
* Overstating facts and stretching the truth.
* Degrading the competition.
* Avoiding eye contact.
* Not smiling.
* Fidgeting – tapping your fingers or a pen.
* Constantly looking at a clock or watch.
* Appearing unprofessional or poorly groomed.
* Forgetting to thank the prospect for their time at the start of the
Many of us are guilty of many of these bad habits. In our post meeting critique, provide yourself a checklist and appraise yourself. If you become aware of one of these habits, make a concerted effort to avoid it in the future.
- Sparking Curiosity
Here’s a novel approach to sparking some interest in your products by a new or even reluctant prospect. People are always interested in “inside information”… something that may give them an inside edge with a competitor or a competing associate. Try this approach:
Let’s say that your prospect works for the Acme Widget Company and this is a sizable prospect for you.
- Have an associate, another sales person or your manager write up a memo discussing the salient points about what the Acme Widget Company should do to increase their profitability.
- The use of your product should be detailed clearly presenting the tangible and intangible benefits while providing a cost/ benefit analysis.
- This memo should not be a sales document… that would be too blatant. However a factual discussion supported by analysis provides a decision making tool in a non sales environment.
- Once you have prepared this memo, send a copy of it to the prospect, together with a letter stating: “Here is some of our internal thinking…”
- Once the prospect receives this report, it provides your proposal with the air of “inside information” and will almost always get read.
- Follow-up with a call to discuss the memo with the prospect. At this point you’re coming into the account from a position of strength as an expert there to improve their business rather than another salesperson out to sell something.
- Tell – Tale Buying Signs
Sales people must be able to read between the lines and to react not only to what is actually being said to what is not being said. There is no doubt that body language accounts for the majority of the communication in sales, but there are signals that the buyer maybe sending that you should be also be able to read during the sales process. These include:
The buyer may be seeking additional information to make a decision. At this point, they are considering the risk involved in buying from you. It’s up to you to reduce that risk by providing the information that puts the buyer at ease. You must make their decision easy to make.
The prospect may need some specific additional that helps them make up their mind. These may include order size, credit terms, delivery, back end support and training, etc..
Reasoning Out Loud:
At this point, the prospect is doing a self sell job. Allow them to do this and provide additional support on critical points.
Negotiation is a sure buying sign. At this point the buyer is trying to get the best deal possible, testing the waters on various points, until he or she arrives at the best deal possible. Often the buyer doesn’t realize that they’re sending these signals. Provide the space they need as well as the reassurance and information to support their decision.
- Twelve Objectives That Can Be Used on Every Sales Call
Every sales call needs an objective – that action which you need to focus your energies upon to move the sales process forward or to build your relationship. Remember that it takes an average of eight sales calls to get an order in today’s hyper competitive marketplace. Each of those sales calls should bring you one step further along the way until you ultimately close the business. Here are twelve typical objectives that can be used for your sales calls:
- Close the sale and get the order.
- Gain a second appointment.
- Qualify the prospect.
- Develop trust and begin to build the sales relationship.
- Gather information.
- Make a presentation.
- Gain a commitment from other participants than the
decision maker. (machine operators, etc.)
- Get on the approved vendor list.
- Follow-up on the order to assure satisfaction.
- Solve a problem.
- Introduce a new product or service.
- Make sure that customer’s expectations are met.
- Making a Winning Impression
First impressions count. Prospects will tend to make snap judgments about you as to your professionalism, character and competence. Here are a few tips to help you to make a favorable impression:
- Get in the habit of offering a sincere smile every time you meet someone. A smile encourages people to start a conversation or can convince a customer that you truly appreciate their business.
- Look your customers in the eye. This projects an air of confidence and strength. It also creates an impression of credibility and integrity.
- Get in the habit of greeting others before they greet you. Make the first move. This provides an impression that you are outgoing and confident and willing to take the initiative if a problem occurs.
- Take an interest in others and demonstrate that interest by asking questions about their interests and how you might be able to assist them. This shows that you are a warm, caring and concerned individual.
- Complement others. The better you make others feel about themselves, the more they will seek you out as a friend and valuable associate.