Seven core sales and business tools: How sharp are your skills?
Like many weekend handymen, I have a shed full of tools I use only occasionally. This weekend I pulled out my power saw and expected a perfect cut in the expensive piece of timber I had just purchased. You can imagine my surprise, and the expletives I muttered under my breath, when the timber split along the cut.
I took the old blade with me to the hardware store to make sure I replaced it with a compatible blade. The first thing the salesperson asked was if I wanted to have the blade sharpened as it was perfectly good, just dull from exposure, wear and tear.
I was reminded of an important lesson from the Seven Habits taught by the late Stephen Covey. I had not used the Power Saw for a few years and I had expected it to perform to the same specification as the day I purchased it.
Last week I was talking with a business owner who was lamenting the poor quality of people applying for sales roles. If he offered a big guarantee he would get hundreds of applicants. If the sales person had to rely on their own skill set to earn commissions he might get one or two applicants. He made the bold claim there were only about 500 professional sales people in Australia who earned more than $250,000 and most never made more than their base salary.
Brian Tracy, in his program The Psychology of Selling, relates a recent study which outlines the sad fact less than 5% of full time sales people have ever attended a sales training course, read a book about selling, or listened to a tape or CD by their own choice.
Selling, the powerhouse of every business, is the most profitable and rewarding career. In fact, there is so much money to be made in a selling career failure to believe high achievement is possible is often the most significant limiting factor in a sales career.
The basic laws of business and selling are simple, well known and the foundation of all excellent training programs – it is just that so few people follow them! Here I have taken six core principals. If you can focus on just ONE and improve in that area you can dramatically improve your results:
1. The more your client talks, the more they like you
I regularly hear comments like ‘He must be a good sales person – he can talk the leg off an iron stove’ or ‘John is a great sales person – but he just talks too much’.
I have never heard ‘Jill is such a nice person – but she just listens too much’.
People want to be heard and understood before hearing about us. To build a business and sales you need to be listening all the time. Developing your skills of asking the right questions at the right times is fundamental to listening – and listening is the foundation of success.
2. Professional sales people never make a sales call
Professional sales people make calls to be of service to their client. When you make calls for any other reason the client will know immediately and treat you like a sales person rather than the ‘consultant’ or ‘business advisor’ you may have built your reputation on.
If you're making a sales call to meet quota, earn bigger commissions, move the "special of the month" or any other reason not arising from your clients needs you need to check your integrity.
One of the main reasons selling has a negative public perception is too many sales people sell for their own reasons, not their customers' reasons.
A qualified prospect has the need, receives the value, has authority and power to buy.
3. Sales Professionals are born the same way as doctors, lawyers and other professionals
Brian Tracy tells us that the average sales person lasts less than 90 days in this profession. As with every profession, highly skilled sales professionals have studied and learned their trade.
Top sales professionals pay for and attend training sessions every year. They read regularly and research their profession to be the very best all the time. Research reveals that regardless of age, race, gender or experience, a novice salesman with effective sales training can become as successful as his veteran counterpart.
4. The number one question is ‘What will it do for me?’
Before you pick up the telephone to talk to your client ask yourself the question ‘If I was the person I am calling what is it that the service or product being sold will impact on my world?’ If the definition of selling could be boiled down to a single sentence or question, this would be it.
Constantly put yourself in your prospects shoes by asking this question. It will help you focus on their needs and the appropriate corresponding benefits.
People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.
Your client must believe that you will do everything possible that's in his or her interest. Without this trust, all the facts, figures and discounts don't mean anything.
Once you gain the prospect's trust, however, you become much more than a supplier -- you become a trusted business advisor, strategic partner not easily replaced, despite your competitors' lower price, supposed faster delivery and so on.
5. People buy emotionally then justify logically
Contrary to what many salespeople believe, this reality actually works in your favour if you've done a thorough job of helping your prospect buy.
Your prospect, once they have engaged with you emotionally, find it hard to say 'no' as they are saying 'no' to someone they like and care for. Once engaged emotionally they will work hard to justify a purchase.
6. Discuss benefits related to your prospect ONLY
There are more than 1 million 8mm drill bits sold annually, but people don't want 8mm drill bits. They want 8mm holes. Show your prospects the benefits of your product or service. If they want am 8mm hole discuss 8mm holes, not the speed of the drill.
7. Sell value, not price
I was shopping for clothes for my next sales training trip. I commented to my wife that there were a lot of very ugly clothes around. This got me thinking. At some stage these clothes will go on special and at some point, when the price has been reduced enough, someone will buy them. This is a lose-lose situation as there is no margin for the store and the buyer will wear the item only once.
Selling the value of your services or product to address business issues will win all the time.
Today’s question and actions
When was the last time you did anything about developing your business or sales skills? Here are two things you can do immediately to start sharpening your saw.
- Load up motivational, business and sales training audio files on you iPhone or in-car CD player. Listen to these every time you jump into the car - even if it is for just a few minutes.
- Plan to attend business building or sales skills programs on a regular basis. There are many good one or two hour skill based programs run by training companies which cost nothing more than a few minutes listening to their sales pitch
- When you find a good program take the plunge and make the investment in yourself
Selling and business building skills, the backbone of the economy, need to be learned, honed and sharpened just like any other professional skill. You are a valuable and important person and you deserve the best chance of success.
Have a great week!
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