This is the third installment of the same topic, picking up where we left off last month. If you're committed to becoming more powerful in the area of sales, you may want to go back to my website, tag "Newsletter Archives" and read the first and second installments - I know I had to!
Setting Agendas and gaining agreement.
What's your prospect most afraid of? That you will make him uncomfortable by persisting in an argument he wants to end. It's called "being sold to." It's the old-style sales approach, where you browbeat the customer into saying yes. Solution: Set agendas and agreements at the outset - what you plan to cover, what you will be asking of him, what kind of responses you're looking for.
One salesman I know proposes an up-front agreement something like this. "Towards the end of this conversation, most people will either say yes, no, or I'll think about it. Some people are worried that they'll hurt my feelings, or perhaps they have unanswered questions, so they say 'I'll think about it' or 'I'll have to talk with my wife, my boss, etc.' But no is really a good answer, as is yes. Would you be willing to just say yes or no?"
Here's another. A client of mine called a prospect he didn't know. "I'm not interested" said the client, even before my client had introduced the proposition. He repeated "I'm not interested" several times, while my client suggested, in a friendly and reasonable way, that the prospect might at least like to find out what was at stake before he made the judgment. My client persisted where many of us might have just hung up - and the client ultimately listened, and made a key referral. We later decided that, when your client says "I'm not interested" and stays on the phone, he's still interested! You also might agree that it was a super piece of salesmanship!
When a prospect senses they will need to make a decision about something, what concerns come up for him or her? Here are some.
Making a mistake
Failing at something
In each case, your prospect is asking for you to help him to get past the concern. If you can, he may access another concern, or he may go straight on to the close.
Responding with denial - "No, it's not too expensive!" Prospect interprets this response as "You're wrong, I'm right." Not many sales get closed by people who are right! Recommendation: Handle each objection the best you can, make the customer right for having brought up the objection, then show him or her a way around the objection. "We have a payment plan." "I can see where you'd think so, but ". It may take you a number of sales calls to learn all the objections that are likely to come up, and devise ways around them. If you're like me, you'll think of what you should have said after the call is finished! Too bad, but write it down and you'll be prepared next time. It won't take you long to become very effective at handling concerns. Remember, each stupid, unreasonable, argumentative concern is a hidden request for solution and a closing.
Here's a structure for handling concerns.
Hear them out, all the way.
Feed it back, just the way they said it.
Respond to it.
Confirm that they understand your answer.
Find out if they've gotten completion on the concern. If no, go back to #1; if yes, go to 7 below.
Change the direction and move on.
Closing the sale.
No matter how desperately your customer wants your product or service, he probably won't take it until you invite him to. And the biggest single reason why sales don't get made is that the salesperson doesn't ask the customer for the business. If you don't ask you don't get. Ah, but if you don't ask, you don't get rejected! Of course, you don't get the business either. Call reluctance and closing reluctance are a whole 'nother conversation, coming later. Let's assume you can manage them - here are some closing processes you can try.
How does this sound to you? Would you like to try this? When do you see this getting started?
Would you like to try this?
When do you see this getting started?
Which would you prefer - A or B?
Pro's and Con's. Ask the prospect to write down a list of each. Help with the positives. Don't help with the negatives.
Point out someone who's in a similar position, and how your product or service is benefiting them.
Address the concerns raised, consider each as a buying signal, and then go back to #1.
When you've asked the closing question, shut up! Let the customer answer it. Your customer has to make a choice, and most customers will look for ways to avoid choosing. Let there be silence after you ask the customer for the business - honor the fact that your customer is choosing. (If you feel the need to clarify or explain, don't! Consider the possibility that your own anxiety about the sale might prompt you to sabotage the customer's decision process.)
Beware of feeling tense, upset or angry when a sale doesn't take place. Diagnosis: This sale was about the wrong person. It was about you and your concerns - it should have been about the customer. Allow yourself to be disappointed that a customer can't or won't accept your proposal. But it's the customer's responsibility to choose for him/herself. Feeling badly, perceiving a no as rejection, or being angry is an emotional process you shouldn't indulge in. You may want the sale and you may have worked hard to generate it, but it's up to the customer, not you, to create the buying action. If you've done your best for the customer, and they won't accept the outcome you offer, recite our mantra - SW, SW, SW, MO - Some Will, Some Won't, So What, Move On!
Managing your pipeline.
At this point, perhaps you are developing your own system of keeping your pipeline full. Your prospects go in your "funnel," you keep a regular measure of the traffic, and you begin to see how this contributes to your personal income. You may wonder whether all the work is worth it - maybe you'll just skip this step. I confess to listening closely to that temptation myself. But, there is no motivation like the sure knowledge that what you are doing will produce results that you want. If you want control of your own motivation, there's nothing like keeping score! You can't win without success, and you can't succeed without failure. If you avoid keeping score, then we know what's going on, don't we!
Call or Closing Resistances.
They exist! They probably exist in you. The first trick is to unmask them. What are the masks? Each of us has our own.
Here are a few:
I'm too busy.
I need a cigarette break, bathroom break, any other break!
I can't find the address, the file, the phone number.
This prospect is too ??? - stupid, poor, dysfunctional, unfocused, annoying.
(Loudly) "Oh, I'm so disorganized!" (Intended to generate pity and sympathy.)
What excuses do you find for yourself?
And the conversation behind the question is the mother lode.
I really don't want to be successful.
Maybe a different job?
I'm Un??? where Un is completed with: worthy, focused, successful, organized, acceptable, and so forth.
When we make excuses for ourselves, we do our best to make them stick and we defend them almost to the death! We will hold as true stuff we know to be untrue - "I'm unsuccessful" is a favorite - just to keep the excuse working. This is a place where a coach can make an enormous difference and help you give up the excuses that stand in the way of the success you really want to be. Hint: 516 944-6454 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Resolve to be a sales master!
Consider what would be possible if you took on becoming a sales master. You're good at it now. And you can get by the way you are. But Mastery is where the money is! As you've read through these newsletters, you've seen that there are two simple issues - take on some processes you already know how to do but don't do, and give up some processes which don't work for you. Would you like to have your business awash with money? You don't have to be the biggest shark in the ocean - but wouldn't it be nice to be the fattest one!