Do You Know The Real Secret To Sales Success?

Sales professionals ask all the time what really works in sales?  The answer is quite simple.  What works in sales is understanding your prospects needs and wants and then showing in a very compelling way how your product or service satisfies those needs and wants better than any other alternative.

Many times there is the thinking that there is some “magic bullet” that can be used and every prospect will do business with you.  Well, there is no “magic bullet.”    What there is though, is to use a sales system that will consistently allow you to be successful in selling business.

You always want to be improving your sales close ratio, but you will never close 100% of the business you propose.  Therefore, you’re playing the percentages and stacking them in your favor.

You need to know how many calls it takes to get a prospect and how many prospects it takes to get a customer.  It’s just that simple.  Then, you need to have a sales system that supports your efforts.

What do you need to have two main things in your sales system?  You need a way to get qualified prospects and a sales process.

Prospecting funnel – you need to have a way to keep plenty of fresh qualified prospects in your pipeline.  When you don’t have enough qualified prospects, you enter into what I refer to as the “begging cycle.”  The begging cycle is when you are so desperate to have a prospect do business with you literally beg.   It goes like this: “please, please, please, Mr./Ms. Prospect.  Do business with me!  Please!, please!, please!.”  Not only do you sound like an old James Brown record (comment on the blog if you get that one), it just doesn’t work.  After all, would you want to do business with someone who’s desperate?

When you have a pipeline full of qualified prospects and you have a sales system that yields results, you are never desperate.

There are so many ways to build your prospecting funnel.  You have networking, referrals, direct mail, webinars, etc.  The list is endless.  Use your imagination to come up with ways to increase your pipeline.

Try to think in terms of activities that leverage you time.  For example if you have a webinar you could talk to many more potential prospects at one time than you could cold calling.

Sales Process – it is a proven fact that sales people who follow a linked sequential sales process have more success than those that don’t.  A sales process basically has six steps.

  • Open – The introduction to your prospect.  Your goal here is to establish rapport
  • Gain Creditability – This is where you earn the right to continue with the sales process.  You are establishing trust here.
  • Discovery – Understanding your prospect’s needs and wants.  Here is where you find out as much about your prospect as you possibly can.  Be sure to understand the needs and wants of all the people that could influence the buying decision.
  • Presentation – Present a unique solution that satisfies the needs and wants of your prospect.  The key here is to make your solution unique from all alternatives being considered.  That also means you address the alternative of your prospect doing nothing.
  • Gain Agreement – This is where you agree to do business.  Notice I did not say close.  Gaining agreement is a natural outcome of completing the first four steps of the sales process.
  • Implement & Follow-up – Ensure that what you promised in your proposal is delivered.  Be sure to ask for referrals at this step.  Your new prospect is never going to be more excited about your relationship than now.  Capitalize on that by asking for referrals.  Make sure you have a way to review your performance for the life of the customer.  That’s the only way to ensure you will have a customer for life.

At the end of the day or even the beginning of the day, you have to have a sales system to be successful in sales.  You need a way to find ’em and then sell ’em.

Happy Selling

Become A Master Of Persuasion

When I first started selling it was a complete disaster.  I thought if I just got enough people to like me they would buy my products and services.  Nothing could have been farther from the truth.

I actually learned how to sell from a master salesperson named Mark.  Mark was simply able to move people beyond where they originally thought they could go.

Mark and I were making blitz calls (that’s how we did it back in the day).  The funny thing today is that you back then you could actually get in to see people and have a conversation with them today.  Even with all this technology we seem to have less time than we did 30 years ago.  Go figure that one out!

Anyway, Mark and I called on this business and the Owner came out and immediately said he did not have time to talk.  He stated that he appreciated us coming by, but we caught him at the wrong time.

Mark asked him a question about what was keeping him so busy and the man went on to talk for about four or five minutes about what he had to do.  Mark asked him another question about that was related to what he wanted to accomplish.  Our conversation with this guy who originally had no time to talk lasted for thirty minutes.

He invited us back and ultimately became a customer.  What would have happened if Mark had simply said: “Ok, we’ll come back later”?

I asked Mark how did he take a guy who wanted no part of use and move him to wanting to have a conversation with us.  He told me about persuasion and how people say things initially because they are programmed to say them.  He went on to say that what people say is often not what they mean.

The ability to persuade people is a key skill for sales people.  If you want to win the sales game you have to be able to create value, differentiate yourself from the competition, and gain agreement.  But what facilitates you being successful in the sales process is your ability to persuade.

One of the best courses on persuasion was put together by a guy named Kevin Hogan.  He is a master a persuasion and teaching persuasion.  If you want to check out his stuff go to kevinhogan.winningthesalesgame.com.

To start practicing and developing your skill of persuasion, begin to notice what words and actions that cause people to connect with you.  If you observe yourself you will see when conversations and attitudes shift in a positive way towards your message.

When you take notes of those instances, use them over and over again until you have mastered them.

Mastering persuasion in sales in not like a con game.  You are helping your prospects get what they need to meet their objectives.  And, because you helped them you benefit too.

Happy Selling

Learning From The Past

Last week I wrote about now is the time to set goals for 2011.  This is true.  By the same token, this time of the year is also a good time to reflect on what was accomplished in 2010.   While you certainly want to have the majority of your attention looking through the windshield of the future, you still want to reflect on the rearview mirror of the past.

Sometime looking at the past we only see what we didn’t do and fail to give ourselves credit for all that we accomplished.  Consider taking a balanced approach to evaluating the past.  The only thing the past is really good for is learning from it.

This means looking at both accomplishments and failures from the standpoint of what you can learn and benefit from those experiences.

When we think of failure we can get into a funk.  Often, we make failure mean something about us personally.   “I didn’t do what we wanted to do so therefore I must be a failure.”

Another more productive way to look at failure is you did not accomplish what you wanted to accomplish and now you know what doesn’t work.   It doesn’t matter what you did that didn’t work.

For example, you may say you did not do your best and that is why you failed.  Well, you may not have given it your best shot.  But, you know now that that doesn’t work for what you had to accomplish.

There probably have been times when you accomplished something without giving it your best shot.  For those times not giving it your best shot worked.  When you don’t give it your best shot and fail.  You know that doesn’t work.

It doesn’t do any good to put yourself down because you did not give it your best shot.  What there is to do is give it your best shot on a go forward basis.  The main point here is you would not have acknowledged you did not give it your best shot if you had not looked at the past.

Don’t let failure keep you from learning from failure.  Refusing to review something because you did not succeed is a big mistake.  You really set yourself up for another failure.

When you can look at failure objectively for what it is and not from the standpoint of it means I’m a bad person, you benefit.

The same is true with accomplishments.  You certainly want to take pride in what you have achieved, but don’t go overboard.  Take a similar approach to failure to see what you can learn and how you can apply success principles in the future.

One thing to keep in mind when looking at accomplishments is that very little we accomplish all on our own.  Be sure to show appreciation to those who assisted you in the achievement of your goals.

Make 2011 your best sales year ever.  Map out what you want to accomplish.  Take bold massive action.  Adjust when you need to.  Do these things and this time next year when you look back on 2011 you will have a lot to accomplishments to learn from.

Happy Selling