You’ve likely read a number of articles regarding new, improved, and advanced selling techniques, and strategies. I’ve written my share of these. Blah, blah, blah, and … blah. I’m sorry but, selling is just not that complicated. Furthermore, why would anyone even try to adopt advanced techniques without first mastering the basics?
Woody Allen once said … “80% of life is showing up”. On the other hand, Yogi Berra mused that … “90% of this game is half mental.” so let’s settle on the premise that “85% of selling is based on committing to a few simple things until they become a reflex.” Knowing what to do is worthless. Being able to do it consistently is what matters.
1. Get organized
It’s pretty difficult to know where you are going and how you are going to get there if you don’t have a clear map and a quality plan. It is incredibly important to have a clean, well-maintained, and up-to-date CRM (or whatever system you choose). A good central CRM database beats the heck out of post it notes in tattered folders.
Personally, I live and breathe by my handwritten to-do list which is revised and rewritten, often daily. By constantly keeping your eye on the ball, you will get ahead and stay ahead and this means that you will always have the time available for unexpected issues or … for any opportunities that may present themselves.
2. Prepare and invest
Certainly, this includes becoming more knowledgeable about your product or services. Most importantly, you need to know everything you can about your customers. Fortunately, much of this information is easily accessed today via the internet and specifically through the use of social media channels.
If you really want to know their interests and what motivates your buyers, are you going to see this in a controlled environment like … a sales call? Not likely. You will, however, learn these things on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
This is one of those occasions where the tortoise beats the hare. This type of effort requires a commitment on your part but, time spent in preparation will return tenfold in terms of results. Luck really is nothing more than where preparation meets opportunity. Take good notes (in your CRM) and refer to them often and particularly prior to your next conversation.
Invest in your greatest asset, you, because you pay awesome dividends! This includes taking those steps necessary in order for you to get better at your chosen craft. Study and take courses where needed. Join groups that will make you more successful such as networking groups or, for honing your message, I highly recommend Toastmasters.
3. Become a good listener
Being a good listener includes having well-developed spidey senses, what some might call EQ (emotional quotient) or Emotional Intelligence. Ask good questions. Show genuine interest. Clarify and confirm those questions that are asked of you and your answers to them.
Since I can’t place enough emphasis on that statement, I’m going to say it again (in bold and italics) … Clarify and confirm those questions that are asked of you and your answers to them! And please, put away your @#$*#! smartphone! God gave you two eyes, two ears, and one mouth for good reason.
4. Build relationships
People buy from those they like, trust, and respect. Relationships are the gift that keeps on giving. Even if you sell one and done products and services, relationships continue to deliver future sales in, if nothing else, the form of referrals. But, make no mistake. Relationships, and referrals must be earned.
Now, all of the customer research in the world isn’t going to do you much good unless you act on it. It’s like those who have book learnin’ but, no common sense. This means that you must engage directly with others in a personal, unique, and progressive manner.
The world of sales has always been noisy with multiple vendors competing for a finite number of buyers. In the world of social selling, the noise is downright deafening. You simply must be memorable and remarkable in order to stand out, and above, the fray.
5. Learn to qualify
There appears to be a lot of conversation lately about the need to qualify buyers. Some feel that qualification, and the sales process as a whole, is done for the seller vs. the buyer, Whatev’. If they don’t have an itch, the money to scratch it, and the authority to invest in the cratcher … you are not going to have a sale.
Are qualification questions sometimes uncomfortable? Maybe but, they shouldn’t be. What’s really uncomfortable is when you lose a sale that you poured your heart, soul, and money into only to find out that it had no chance of closing simply because you were too afraid to ask the questions.
As with all communication, it’s not what you say but how you say it. Learn to cushion questions before asking them … “We have several options that might meet your needs. In order to determine what might be best for you, would it be ok for me to ask you a few questions?”
6. Be honest
Don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know” or even … “No”. I don’t trust salespeople who have all the answers or who answer “yes” to everything that I ask for. It’s just not normal. Saying that you don’t know not only makes you human, it shows that you are honest.
Even better, you have the ability to demonstrate that you can be counted on to find the right answer and get back to them in a timely manner. As far as that goes, what salesperson does not welcome a chance to get back in front of a buyer? Hell, I’ve been known to feign ignorance for the sole purpose of securing that opportunity.
7. Demonstrate responsiveness
Display urgency and promptness in everything you do. Being on-time is the equivalent to being late. People who are consistently responsive and who exceed customer expectations are so rare today that you will certainly stick out like a … superstar. Always under-promise and then over-deliver.
Use your CRM to schedule tasks and recurring reminders to stay in touch. If nothing else, you have a calendar! I don’t even care if you still use a shoe box tickler file. The unfortunate result of being busy is that things tend to fall through the cracks and the last thing that you want to see disappear into the abyss is a life-changing sale.
8. Ask for the order
For whatever reasons, asking for the order has always been one of those key things that so many salespeople seem to fail at. This can generally be due to one or both of two conditions:
- Fear – They might say “No” and/or I might appear to be too pushy.
- They have not placed themselves in a position of having earned the right to ask for their customer’s business. This often results in … fear.
You don’t need to be some smooth talking devil to ask for the order. My favorite close is … “Are you ready to get started?”. Of course, I watch closely for buying signs and move in that direction when the time is right. I am also a huge proponent of trial closes that are used to test the water and to assess buyer temperatures.
Remember that the close is the natural culmination to a well-executed sale. If you have done everything else right you have earned this sale and the word fear should not be associated with asking for it. If you haven’t done things right … zombie apocalypse. You should be afraid.
Really? That simple?
Yes! If you can do these 8 simple things consistently, you will be a much better salesperson than at least 80% of those who practice the profession. Your sales will dramatically increase! Did I miss anything that you would like to add to this list?