In order to achieve above average sales results, one must first be open to thinking about above average sales techniques.
When I first started in sales, I remember being surprised that the training I attended did more to teach me to sound just like everyone else than teaching me to differentiate myself.
If you look around your company or industry, you will find that some sellers are more effective than others even though they are selling similar products to the same type of customers. It’s more likely that their success is the result of their approach than just relying on dumb luck or fortunate circumstance.
The most important business issue every sales manager faces today is the same: How can we duplicate the success of top performing salespeople? At some point, it all comes down to having a differentiable strategy and superior sales technique.
The harder you push, the harder your prospects and customers will tend to push back.
In high school physics, we learned that for every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction. In sales, pushing harder and harder increases customer resistance and causes decision makers to be even more standoffish. Of course, this is the opposite of what we are trying to accomplish.
Consequently, Question Based Selling is not just about asking questions. If you want to be effective in selling, it’s more important to know how to cause potential customers to want to share information with you.
Put it this way: If someone doesn’t ‘want to’ share with you, it doesn’t matter what questions you try to ask.
Executed properly, the act of closing a sale should end up being somewhat of an anticlimactic event. In today’s business environment, there are no magical closing phrases or sales tricks that you can use to force a prospective customer in to buy something they don’t really want.
Success in selling hinges less on a salesperson’s ability to close and more on your ability to get prospects ready to be closed.
The trick is getting the opportunity “ready” to be closed, which means satisfying each of the prerequisite steps…including identifying a recognized need, proposing a viable solutions, justifying the cost, creating a sense of urgency, and you must be dealing with someone who has the authority to make a purchase decision.
Having an accurate read on your sales opportunities gives you a strategic advantage over the competition.
Most sellers have been conditioned to ask hopeful questions. Here are some examples of hopeful sales questions:
“Would next Tuesday work for a conference call?”
“Does your boss like our proposal?”
“Are we still in good share to wrap the deal up by month-end?”
The problem is, hope-filled questions tend to cause people to share less information, that’s also less accurate. From my perspective, competent sales professionals aren’t afraid of hearing bad news. In fact, having a complete picture of the opportunity (good news and bad) increases your ability to address any outstanding issues and wrap up the sale.
People are motivated differently. You and I see examples of this every day. Behavioral selling models have attempted to address this by adding a level of complexity, by putting decision makers into different categories and labeling them as drivers, amiables, thinkers, feelers, analyticals, kinesthetics, etc. If it helps you to strategize about your accounts using this type of psychological modeling, that’s fine by me.
Me, I tend to gravitate away from things like this that seem to add an unnecessary level of complexity to the sales process. While I agree that people are motivated in different ways, at the end of the day, people are only motivated by two things: positive reward and negative aversion.
While some people are motivated to run fast toward Gold Medals many other people run even faster from German Shepherds.
Therefore, rather than just positioning all the “wonderful things” your product or service can offer, sellers can effectively double their value proposition by recognizing that any benefit, for any product, in any industry, can be positioned both as a Gold Medal benefit, and also as a German Shepherd.
Secret #156: In today’s business culture, there is an overwhelming demand for proven sales talent. . .
In today’s business culture, there is an overwhelming demand for proven sales talent, but there is an underwhelming infrastructure for teaching salespeople how to succeed.
Does anyone else think it’s strange that the sales function drives every company, yet selling continues to be the least taught profession in the world?
Given enough time and tribulation, some of the most creative and diligent salespeople will figure out for themselves what works and what doesn’t—through trial and error, just like we did in the old days. Unfortunately, one thing companies and sales managers don’t have today is the luxury of time.
My advice to any salesperson who wants to improve their performance in today’s competitive marketplace is simple: Do everything you can to become a student of the strategic sales process. Whether your goal is to raise your individual effectiveness, or the effectiveness of the entire sales organization, there’s no need for you reinvent the wheel.
Let me know how we can help (tfreese@QBSresearch.com).