Sales Strategies of Six Figure Income Salespeople
Tim Connor, CSP
It is unfortunate today that many salespeople are still following the "old standard" of planning their calls on their clients and prospects.
Rather than rehash these trite and outdated approaches, I would like to share the philosophies and attitudes with you that are being used by the successful salespeople of today and will be used by the superstars of tomorrow.
One. Who are you? What are your opinions, prejudices, judgments, attitudes, values and beliefs, philosophies and old baggage that may be sabotaging your sales success. Do you know who you really are? Do you know who you take into your sales calls? Are you sending a non-verbal message that is consistent with your verbal behavior? How would your prospects and clients describe your behavior and attitudes?
A thorough honest self-appraisal and subsequent modification of incorrect attitudes and behavior is critical for autonomy and success in selling in the new business climate.
Two. What is your basic fundamental purpose and mission in selling? Is it to make money? Serve your clients? Grow your company? Contribute to society? Provide for your families current and future needs? Have fun? Enjoy the opportunity to determine your own career and financial destiny? What aspect of selling do you really feel passionate about? Would you change careers for more praise, recognition, challenge, responsibility, money or opportunity?
Your reasons, more than your goals for staying in this demanding, challenging and rewarding career will determine your peace, balance and fulfillment as you walk the highway into your future sales career.
Three. What type of people do you like to be around? How do you like to spend your career time? What else is important to you in your life besides your career? How do you like to spend your personal time? What are your needs for career and personal stimulation and feelings of worth-whileness? Are they being satisfied in your current selling position or circumstances?
Selling today is about building successful, positive on-going relationships. All types of relationships. Your overall success will be greatly impacted by your willingness and ability to establish and maintain positive relationships Four. How much time are you devoting to your personal and spiritual growth? Do you regularly read good books, listen to great audio tapes, attend seminars and network with people who can help you? Do you take time to recharge your battery with vacations, weekend adventures? Do you take time to relax? Do you get adequate rest and proper nutrition?
A successful selling career requires lots of stamina, energy and passion. You can't have these if you abuse your mind and body.
Five. Solving your prospects or clients problems is no longer an effective sales strategy. The successful salespeople in today's marketplace and the marketplace of tomorrow will be creative problem creators. Effective salespeople will be ruthless in their pursuit of uncovering or creating an awareness of client problems that they weren't even aware they had. They will think far ahead of their clients not just along with them.
If you want to guarantee your success in the coming years it will only take one approach. Find out what is preventing your prospects from getting a good night sleep. Determine what is keeping them up at night worrying and you won't have to worry about customer loyalty, reducing prices or over aggressive competition.
Even poor salespeople can solve a clients problem with the right product, service, feature or approach. It will take creative, forward looking and imaginative thinking to excel as the new world order emerges in the next millennium.
Six. People buy from people they trust, not people they like. The key to building trust is simple. Promise allot and deliver more. Do what you say you will do and then some. Honor your commitments, communicate with integrity and be a resource for your client not just a salesperson selling a product or service.
I am a trainer, a speaker and a consultant but I don't actively sell myself as any of these. I do however sell myself as a client resource. What can you offer your client other than your products or services. You can provide a continuous flow of ideas. You can be an idea gold-mine. But in order to be able to provide this level of information, you must first take a great deal of new information into your consciousness with regularity. Information about the marketplace, your clients businesses, human behavior, and a wide variety of current events that impact your business and the business of your clients and prospects.
I am not talking here about devouring the local newspaper or evening news. Constant reminders of what is wrong in the world or your home town isn't going to help you one bit in your selling or your ability to maintain a positive attitude or consciousness. I am referring here to subscribing to publications that feed your mind positive and worthwhile information that helps you keep in touch with how you can improve your selling behavior or the changing circumstances or trends in your target or niche industries.
Peak performance salespeople study their clients business, their industry, their competition and are walking encyclopedias of information on their own products and services. Anything less, and you are fair game for anyone and everyone to take your business away from you.
Seven. Successful salespeople don't sell price. They sell value. Price will always seem high if value is perceived as low. When you focus on price either because of poor product knowledge, poor client knowledge or poor sales skills, you will always lose in the long run. Clients don't want cheap. They want the best value for their dollar. If you are focusing on price you will never make it big in this dynamic profession. However, if you always sell value you will never have to worry about losing business to price competition. Oh yes, on the short term you might lose a sale here or there. But If you are in this business for the long haul for both your company and your client, sooner or later your prospects or clients will come back to you and the value they need and desire.
Poor salespeople believe that prospects buy for price alone or as their major motivator. I don't have space to try and convince you otherwise. I am not going to even try. I'll let you learn this one in the marketplace.
Eight. Effective prospecting is the most important sales skill you will ever need to master. It is more important than good closing techniques, good sales presentations or the ability to answer client resistance. The best salespeople are at their best when they are getting information. If I have heard it once I have heard it a million times, plan your sales presentation. Bull. When you plan your sales presentation you are making a basic assumption that everyone that buys from you, is going to buy for the same reason. If you have been selling for more than thirty days you know that this just isn't true. I can remember in my first sales position over twenty five years ago in the insurance industry that I was told to memorize my presentation, answers to objections and closes. Then go out and deliver the company story. I was fired in six months because I found out that no one was interested in my companies story. The prospects wanted me to learn their story. The job of professional selling to discover prospect/client wants, needs, desires, opinions, opinions, problems, prejudices, attitudes and/or judgments.
The most important element of the sales process for successful salespeople is not the giving of information, but the getting of information. They don't plan their sales presentations but have a presentation strategy. If you have been selling your product or service for over three months, you should know what to say and when without planning it. The pro's never go into a sales situation however, without planning their questions, the information they are going to get. Remember, your prospect will tell you what you need to tell them to sell them. But you have to ask. And please don't forget, the information you don't get soon enough will cost you sales or sales relationships later.
Nine. An effective sales presentation is not a presentation but a conversation. A two way conversation, not a one way conversation. Many salespeople have been trained to deliver their sales message. This message is often a programmed discussion of the various features and benefits of their product or service. This approach to selling has never been used by the real pros. It is not an effective way to represent the product or service in the most professional manner and it is certainly not in the best interests of the prospect or the goal of making selling a new client relationship. Successful salespeople are more concerned about getting a client than making a sale.
Every prospect buys for their reasons, not those of the salesperson or the company. When you deliver your standard approach or presentation you are assuming that each prospect buys for the same reasons, at the same time and in the same way in the buying cycle. This just isn't true. Nor does it make good sense to sell this way. The successful salesperson customizes each sales conversation to the buying style, needs, interests, desires, problems of each buyer. They don't try to shove their buying reasons or features down the throat of the customer.
Ten. Sales resistance from the client or prospect gives you valuable insight into their thinking. Successful salespeople don't try to maneuver around this resistance but get it into the open as soon as possible. Price is a good example. A confident salesperson who knows the value of their products and services doesn't run and hide from price objections. They bring up early in the sales process, the value of working with a quality supplier. They are not afraid of their product or service inadequacies. They know that the other aspects of their organization, personal service or value added approach more than makes up for what they don't have or can't provide. No product or service is ever perfect for every prospect in every potential situation. Sooner or later every prospect must go without something. The approach of successful salespeople is to insure that the prospect understands that what they are getting more than makes up for what they are missing as well as how it will satisfy their needs, desires, problems or opportunities.
The myth is that you should be able to sell everyone sooner or later. I wish this were true. It would make selling so much easier. But the reality is, that not everyone in the marketplace is a good prospect for you, now or in the future. They may be a prospect, but not the best one for the time, energy and resources you have available at the present time. Timing is critical in successful selling. But given the tremendous amount of potential new business in the world today, I believe it is suicide to take the time, energy, corporate resources to try and turn poor prospects into customers or clients. As an aside, if you are able so sell a poor prospect for whatever reason, you will often find they cause you the most stress, distress and age generally not worth it. Some companies have a strategy that in order to sell successfully in a particular market or to a certain prospect, that you must take business that is not profitable, does not fit your customer mix or long term objectives. I have never subscribed to this philosophy.
The key to successful selling is your ability to always be in front of the most qualified prospects or clients not just any prospects or clients.
Eleven. Closing the sale is not a matter of trick closes or manipulation. It is not using fear, guilt or hard sell tactics. Closing the sale on a well qualified prospect is the natural conclusion to everything you have done in the sales process that is correct and effective. You can make people buy things they don't need, but you can't make people buy things they don't want. Poor salespeople try to turn poor prospects into customers or clients. Good salespeople identify good prospects early in the process and help them get what they want. They accomplish this with good listening skills, allot of client or prospect understanding and a willingness to be flexible and compromise.
The key to successful closing is effective prospecting.
Twelve. After sales service is the glue that keeps clients loyal, buying more and willing to give you referrals and positive references. The best salespeople work as hard to keep their clients as they did to get them. The understand that clients will always have new choices for the services or products that they sell. To keep their clients satisfied they constantly conduct client reality checks. They are always checking client perceptions and attitudes. Poor salespeople, take the money and run.
One lesson that the best salespeople have learned is that it is always easier and less costly to do more business with a present client than it is to keep finding new clients. They put just as much of their time, energy and resources into keeping clients and building client relationships as they do looking for new clients.
I am sure if you have been selling for a number of years, you have probably taken issue with some of my points in this article. That's good. I hope I have triggered some thinking on your part. Old school salespeople, those that are unwilling to adapt or change their approaches or strategies, are stuck in outdated perceptions and realities.
All I ask you to do is reexamine your selling philosophies in light of current market and consumer trends. I am confident that some of you need to re-focus some of your attitudes and approaches if you are going to excel in the sales profession in the years ahead.