There are only three ways to sell more. Do more right. Do less wrong. Or, do both. Every successful software sales person knows that there are many skills and attitudes that contribute to their success, but there are twelve critical attributes that the sales super stars have integrated into their overall sales strategy. The following are in no particular order, but if you want long-term consistent success you will embrace and incorporate each of them into your routine sales attitudes and behaviors.
1. Make a sale; you’ll make a living. Sell a relationship and you can make a fortune.
Poor sales people focus on just closing the sale. Successful sales people focus on closing the sale and the relationship. Which is your approach?
For many sales people, the close of the sale typically comes at the end of the sales presentation. It represents for many, the final act in the sales process. It is unfortunate that these poorly informed or trained sales people lack adequate understanding of the role of selling in today’s competitive world.
Selling is not about only closing the current prospect on a particular product or service that solves one of their pressing problems, needs or desires. It is about building a trusting relationship and partnership with them, by becoming a resource, and helping them solve their on-going problems, or satisfying their continuing and evolving needs and desires. Super stars know that the lifetime value of a client is far more than the value of one sale or transaction. They take a long view of the relationship. It is not just about this sale but future sales, referrals and customer trust and loyalty.
2. People buy when they are ready to buy not when you need to sell.
One of the critical concepts that sales super stars know is that their role is to help people buy and that just because they may be behind in their sales quota is not a reason why a prospect should buy from them now.
You don’t change people’s buying habits or circumstances. What you can do is accurately discover them and then attempt to create a sense of urgency. A lot of buying is done due to momentum. It is important to discover those ‘real’ reasons or circumstances as to why a prospect would buy now, later, not at all or never. Once they have discovered the real issues the sales super stars tailor their appeal to those specific needs, desires and buying circumstances.
3. When you sell price you rent the business. When you sell value you own it.
Most poorly trained sales people tend to lower the price when they receive price resistance. Any price, no matter how low, will always seem high to a prospect or customer if their perceived value is low. The key to effectively handling price resistance is to understand this simple, yet profound, concept.
Prospects and customers say they want low price, but what they really want is low cost. What is the difference?
Price is what customers pay for your product or service now. Cost is what the customer pays by buying late, not at all or wrong. It is their overall cost over an extended period of time.
In most cases we get what we pay for. Buy cheap and you get less value or higher cost. Buy expensive and you get higher value or lower cost over time. This is not always true but tends to be true most of the time.
The sales super stars sell value and don’t defend price. In the long run, it is much easier to justify high price if the value is there, than poor quality and constant product/service problems.
4. Your prospect will tell you what you need to tell them to sell them.
Accurate and timely information is the key to success in selling. One of the biggest mistakes poor sales people make is that they give information before they get information. In other words they talk too much. If you practice this approach, you are going to make one or all of the following mistakes. 1) You will give too much information (more than is necessary to make the sale). 2) You will give the wrong information (based on the prospect’s needs, wants, desires or problems). 3) You will give information that could sabotage your success either in the short or long term.
The sales super stars understand that their job is not to sell their software or services but to help the prospect become comfortable with buying their products or services and giving themselves permission to buy now. Information is power and successful sales people are masters at uncovering needs, problems, prejudices, concerns and desires in a timely and truthful way.
5. If two people want to do business together they won’t let the details get in the way. If two people don’t want to do business together they will let any detail will get in the way.
Some people actually know that when they are making a commitment to you to buy they have no intention of following through. Why? Maybe they are just subtly telling you that they are not really a prospect for you. Maybe they have an inflated view of their authority or power within their own organization. And maybe, they just lie a lot. Who knows?
If two people want to do business together they won’t let any details get in the way. If a prospect doesn’t want to do business with you he/she will let even the slightest detail get in the way. We are talking here about intent. Sales super stars know how to identify the prospect’s real intent or purpose. They are not easily misled and tend to probe deeper when they feel they are not getting the real truth from the prospect or customer.
6. They need to work as hard to keep the business as they did to get it in the first place.
Many sales people make lots of promises or benefit statements while trying to sell a new prospect. Most people like to buy, but resist being sold to. A key concept to keep in mind while selling is that the close of the sale is not the end of the sales process, but the beginning of the sales relationship.
The purpose of the sales process is to discover how you can help a customer or prospect with a need, problem, desire or challenge, and then position your product or service in such a way that the customer discovers in his mind the value necessary in order to justify a purchase. Once the sale has been closed and the prospect accepts your promises, commitments or features as ones that will benefit him, he or she now moves into a sort of limbo mode. They wait patiently to see if you meant all of that sales stuff or were just trying to get another deal. They observe and monitor your behaviors, actions, follow through and communication consistency. Most don’t do this consciously but nonetheless they are doing it.
After-sales service is the key to keeping sales closed and keeping customers satisfied and buying again. It can often be a subtle test to see if you can really deliver.
One of the keys is to promise a lot and deliver more. In other words, exceed customer expectations – wow them with service. Poor sales people continuously promise a lot and deliver less, or promise a little and deliver next to nothing.
Sales super stars know that to ensure repeat business, customer loyalty, positive references and qualified referrals their after sales service must be one of their strengths.
7. To sell more every year, they get better every year.
Over the years, one common denominator I have observed in sales super stars is their willingness to invest in the continued improvement of their skills, attitudes and philosophy.
Life is an interesting relationship between paying the price and winning the prize. Between self-investment and rewards. Between investing time in personal development and your ultimate success, it is never too late to begin an aggressive on-going self-development program. There are hundreds of books to read, audio CD’s to listen to and seminars to attend. Sales stars don’t wait for their organization to invest in them and their future value. They take full responsibility for the quality of their life and learning. They are pro-active in seeking out learning opportunities. They use professional coaches, have mentors and belong to mastermind groups. They are constantly taking advantage of networking opportunities looking for all types of people who can help them improve. They create strategic alliance relationships that are mutually beneficial.
- They manage their time and territory effectively.
Each of us gets 24 hours to do with what we will. Some sales people wish they had more while others wish time would pass a lot quicker. Some sales people act like they have an unlimited time bank available to them and that their prospects or clients will see them whenever the sales person would like. The sales super stars understand the importance of using every available selling minute to its full advantage.
Before you can improve your use of time to sell you need to get a handle on how you are spending your time and how you are abusing it. Most of us tend to waste the time we do in the same old ways, day after day, year after year. For one week carry a stopwatch and start it when in the presence of a prospect or customer to sell only and then stop it when you leave. After the sales visit don’t reset the clock but keep a running accumulative total of time spent selling in one week. You can do this with every sales activity for example; how much time you spend on the telephone prospecting for new business, travel time, doing paperwork, in meetings, how much time you spend doing research or solving client problems.
With this simple exercise you will get a fairly accurate picture of where you need time and territory management improvement. Yon can’t change or fix what you don’t know is wrong. So before you launch into some sophisticated time management program remember, you cannot manage time. It passes with or without you.
9. The close of the sale begins when the prospect agrees to see them.
People don’t like to make decisions. The main reason is they don’t want to make a poor or wrong decision. Traditional sales closing methods ask people to make a decision. For example do you want it in green or red? (Alternative choice) Do you want to use your pen or mine? (Action close) Can we write up an order now? (Direct close) Each of these closing techniques, even though they do work, has two fundamental problems.
- They ask the prospect to make a decision
- The average salesperson is uncomfortable using them
Few sales people have a ‘closing strategy’, a process that they follow with each and every real sales opportunity. They tend to ask a few questions, jump into the presentation too soon, try and overcome a couple of the prospect’s sales objections and then prematurely go for the close – usually unsuccessfully. The sales super star knows the outcome long before they get to the end of this routine process and they do it by ensuring that they have a well qualified prospect, they know the prospect’s dominant buying motives, they have identified all of their potential objections before they are even expressed, they have carefully observed the various buying signals from the prospect and they have given an effective and interactive presentation.
They know long before they ask their closing question what the answer will be. How? By being effective at people reading skills, by asking intelligent, effective and appropriate, probing, qualifying questions, by being good listeners and by asking a variety of trial closing questions throughout the sales process. They don’t try and force a fit. They discover the prospects sense of urgency or they create it.
They are in the prospect’s presence to sell not educate. They are there to do business. From their opening remark to their final closing statement their attitude is I am here to sell. This does not mean that they are applying pressure or hard selling. It means they are serious about helping the prospect solve their problems or take advantage of opportunities.
10. They never give up control of the sales process.
A common mistake poor sales people make is that they lose control of the sales process at some point. There are many ways they accomplish this and here are just a few for your consideration:
They quote price before they have had a chance to build value.
They don’t ask enough questions early in the sales process. They just ramble on.
They send out literature when asked, without first qualifying the prospect’s agenda or reasons for requesting it.
They send people to their website without first getting some basic qualifying information and having a follow-up strategy after the prospect has perused their site.
They don’t get advance deposits on services or products.
They leave ‘will calls’ when calling a prospect.
Control of the sales process is one of the key strategies of the sales super star. They understand that control is not manipulation, but is in the ultimate best interests of the prospect or client. When the sales person controls the sales process he/she is never broadsided with a lost sale he/she thought was in the bag.
11. They never project their buying prejudices into the sales process.
The objection that you will tend to have the most difficulty answering successfully is that objection that is the most consistent with your own value system. If you are a price buyer and your prospect objects to price you will tend to accept their objection. If you are the type of buyer who tends to think decisions over before making a purchase and your prospect says to you, “We need to think this over.” Again, you will tend to go along with their objection as rational or making perfect sense (because that is the way you buy).
This simple act of accepting sales objections that resonate with you because you can relate to them is nothing more than projecting your personal attitudes, opinions, judgments or biases into the sales process. When you project your personal beliefs into the sales process you are assuming that everyone who buys, buys the way you like to buy and often for the same reasons. You are also tending to assume that when they don’t buy for a reason that is similar to one of yours that it makes perfect sense to you.
The sales super star leaves their personal biases, prejudices and opinions at home.
12. They never lose their passion.
Passion is the great equalizer. It can make up for a lack of experience and knowledge. I am not suggesting that you not develop your knowledge or experience – only that until you do, others will interpret your passion as a strong belief in yourself, your mission and your purpose.
Passion is different from enthusiasm. The old outworn cliché says, “Act enthusiastic and you will become enthusiastic.” I have never subscribed to this philosophy. The reason is that if enthusiasm is an act, which you use when things are going well, how do you behave when your life is falling apart? Are you just as enthusiastic about failure, more problems than you deserve and any number of disappointments, frustrations and adversities?
Passion is not an act. It is a way of believing. It is woven into your cellular structure just as much as your DNA. Passion – real passion for who you are, what you are selling, who you are becoming and what you believe in. It shouts to the world: “I am here to stay, I am here to make a difference, I will leave my mark in this world. It may take me my entire life, but I will not give up until my purpose and destiny are realized.”
Are you in love with where you are, where you are going, who you are becoming and what you are selling? Or, are you living like more than 85% of the population with the attitude, “Same Stuff, Different Day”? If you have lost or are losing your passion for your career do whatever is necessary to get it back.