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

How To Execute The Discovery Phase of The Sales Process Effectively Part II

In Part I of How To Execute The Discovery Phase Of The Sales Process, I talked about the importance of asking questions, the type of questions to use, and when to use them.  Now I’m going to go a little deeper into some specific questions you need to ask in the discovery phase.

The whole point of using a sales process is to get the business.  All of the pieces of the sales process have a purpose and fit together.  If you leave out or skip a part of the sales process you dramatically decrease your chances of closing the deal.

For example, a lot of sales people want to know the best way to close a sale.  The truth is: closing a sale should be a natural outcome of the sales process.  However, everything else has to be done correctly before the closing phase of the sales process.

The discovery phase allows you to get the information you need to address the needs and concerns of your prospect.  Then you can prepare a customized solution for your prospect that will differentiate you from the competition.  This increases your probability of getting the business.

In the discovery phase you are gathering as much information as you can about your prospect.  The more you know the better position you are in.  You don’t want to just get random information; you want to know their pain and challenges.  You want to know things that can give you insight into how they will choose which way to go.

There are four main questions you want to ask as part of your discovery process.  These are not the only questions you need to ask, but they are necessary questions for each sales campaign.

The Four Questions are:

1. What criteria will you use to make your decision?

The answer to this question allows you to address the issues that are important to them when you make your proposal.  You will want to customize your proposal to include your prospects decision making criteria.

2. What is your time frame for having a solution in place?

Understanding the time frame before presenting your proposal will almost always eliminate the stall objection.  Also, if the time frame for implementation is too far out you may want to wait before proceeding with the sales process.

3. Who will be involved in the decision making process?

You have to know all of the people that will be involved in the process. You want to make sure you address each of the needs of everyone that will play a role in the decision.

4. What is your budget?

Understanding your prospect’s budget allows you to determine the proper solution.  In some cases it tells you even if you have a valid prospect.  You have to build rapport, creditability, and trust to get the answer to this question.

As I mentioned, the four questions are just a part of the many questions you will ask during the discovery phase.  Remember that the discovery phase is where you should be investing the majority of your time in the sales process.  If you do great job of discovery, your prospect will know that you understand what they need.   You will have more confidence in your solution because you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is the best solution.

Happy Selling

How To Execute The Discovery Phase of The Sales Process Effectively Part I

The most important part of the sales process is discovery.  In the discovery phase you are learning as much as you can about your prospect’s needs and wants.  When you understand your prospect’s needs and wants thoroughly, you can present a unique solution that will differentiate you from your competition and create value for your prospect.

There are several keys to being able to execute the discovery step well.  First, you have to have established rapport and creditability with your prospect.  This is done in the first two steps of the sales process (the introduction and gaining creditability steps).

If you have rushed through the first two steps and have no rapport and creditability with your prospect, you will not be able to ask and get an answer to the really deep questions you need execute the discovery phase.   Too often sales people fall into the trap of just asking superficial questions without getting to the pain that your prospect is feeling.

You need to understand the pain because the pain is what will cause your prospect to take action.  Your prospect will not be forthcoming about telling you the pain unless they trust you.  This is understandable because you really don’t tell someone your real problems until you have a level of trust.

Once you have established a level of trust, you have earned the right to ask the really tough questions to get at their pain.  You want to explore with your prospect what it is they need and why they fell they need it.

A decision to do business with you will first be made on emotion.  Then, your prospect will justify the decision logically.  This is true for all sales.  When you understand why your prospect fells they need something, you get to the emotional aspects of the upcoming decision.  By the same token, understanding what they need will allow you to give them the information that will help them justify their decision logically.

You will need to develop your skills in asking questions to be good at discovery.  Starting with a list of questions before making your sales call is a good idea.  This will help you keep the conversation on tract.

There will be times when you ask a question you will want to explore that topic more thoroughly based on the answer your prospect gives.  Having the list of questions made in advance, will help you not to explore that topic and not lose sight of the overall areas you wanted to explore.

Even though you are asking a lot of questions, you don’t want to make your prospect feel as if they are on a witness stand and you are an attorney grilling them for information.  You want to have a conversation.  The best way to do that is to ask open-end questions.  Open-end questions are questions that cannot be answered with a one or two word answer.  These questions require a more expanded answer.

For example you could ask the question: “how many days are in your manufacturing process?”  This is a closed-end question because the answer is going to be a one or two word response.  You could put the question in an open-end format by asking “What is involved in your manufacturing process?”

Only ask closed-end questions when you are looking for specific information.   Conversations are made with open-end questions.

Be sure to start practicing these tips now!

Happy Selling