Resolve objections. Effectively and sensitively resolve the objections that customers inevitably raise. Close the deal. How do customers make decisions? What do they demand from salespeople? The answers come down to three discernable behaviors: believing in your position, empathy, and trust. Be the kind of person who brightens up a room when they enter, as opposed to the person who brightens up a room when they leave it.
Establishing your position People buy from people who know their stuff. Put yourself in the buying role. Knowing what you sell inside-out is a given, but your credibility extends far beyond product knowledge. You need to be well prepared. NO Appealing to buyers 11 Showing empathy Empathy is the ability to connect with someone—to see things from their perspective. Many people think that empathy depends on similarity of age, background, experience, or point of view. A young salesperson can connect with and relate to someone much more senior if they can identify areas of mutual interest.
For starters, both are already in the same business—even if they are on different sides of the desk. They may have similar interests and educations: if salespeople allow the customer to talk and genuinely show interest in what they say, the customer will appreciate the empathy shown. Without understanding the customer and showing real interest in what he or she has to say, a key ingredient in the relationship will be missing and the salesperson will remain an order taker… at best. Building trust Trust takes a long time to build, but only a second to lose.
To demonstrate that you can be trusted, you need to be responsive, direct, clear, reliable, and straightforward. Show the customer your capabilities and earn the business over time. You need to do everything to set your product apart from the others, and there is no better way to differentiate your company than through your approach to your customer. Providing more than the goods To be a success in sales, you should constantly ask yourself what you can do to add value to the client relationship.
If all you do is facilitate the supply of products and services, you are not adding value— just reacting. Even when you provide solutions to known problems, you are still in reactive mode and are not adding much value. This begins only when you help the customer to determine their needs.
The goal is to move up the value chain to becom a strategic adviser to your customer—someone the customer calls for guidance, ideas, perspective, insights, and, quite simply, help. Once you rise to that level with a customer, your position is rock solid Achieving visibility Make yourself visible to your customer. To rise to th level of a trusted adviser and differentiate yourself from your competition, visit your customers in perso on a regular basis.
But what does this really mean, and how do you achieve it in the real world? Implementing the model The concept of needs-driven or needs-based selling is nothing new.
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Why then, is needs-based selling often so poorly implemented? It helps you become better at identifying needs and can make you a better friend. Why did you buy it? What need did you have?
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How did the product address it? How effective was the salesperson you bought from? The answer is—in part—that they are too eager. Early in a sales meeting, they hear a need from a customer and, with the best of intentions, start to address it, start to provide a solution. You know a bit—but just that; the whole story awaits.
Any premature recommendation is likely to miss the mark, resulting in a disappointed customer. A simple example may help illuminate what Levitt was getting at. Imagine you own a travel agency. You listen patiently. He tells you that the vacation is hard to plan because his three children have such different interests—from going to museums to rock climbing—while his wife just needs to have some down time.
He brags about how the cost issue is not a big deal to him. When salespeople hear stories like this, many immediately start thinking up solutions. A little analysis, and further questioning might reveal that the client has a need to impress and be respected by his family; to act quickly; to carve out some adult time on his vacation; to have a safe, supervised environment; and many other needs besides.
What were the best things about your last vacation? Reading between the lines Sometimes your customers will tell you exactly what they need. All you have to do is listen and respond. But if you address only these overt needs, you are not adding much value to the client, and you are doing no more than any of your competitors would do. So your task is to look for the needs behind what the customer says.
For example, if the client complains about his boss constantly secondguessing him, he may be expressing a need to have a solid, tightly reasoned explanation for his buying decisions. Successful sales professionals know how to uncover these implicit needs—indeed, it is what drives their long-term success. Selling would be a far easier task if customers could be relied on always to buy for sound business reasons—such as return on investment, quality, value, and competence. If the buyer always made his or her decision dispassionately, rather than based on how that decision made them feel, reading their requirements would be straightforward.
Below are some examples of each to illustrate the differences between the two. These delve into areas that are harder to quantify—security, connecting with others, ego, and comfort. For this reason, showing empathy with the customer will bring you rich rewards. HOW TO They are more likely to be open and honest with their answers if they understand the structure of the needs determination process see right. But the corollary is that the longer you manage a relationship, the more likely you are to lose sales.
That is because, over time, you become complacent, making assumptions about the customer rather than asking questions. The bottom line is to keep asking questions consistently, methodically, and creatively. You may feel energized and ready to jump right into a sales meeting with a new customer, but if you spend time planning the content and thinking through the process, your chances of success will be greatly enhanced. Start your preparation by determining the objectives of the meeting, both for you and the customer.
Once these are established, ask yourself what you already know about the customer and what you still need to learn. There are many sources of data that you can tap to make sure you are prepared, including—but not limited to—annual reports, product brochures, articles, press clippings, industry magazines, and trade show summaries. Find out about their competitors, key in on what the marketplace is saying, and understand what your customers are demanding. Try to anticipate objections and ask yourself what the real issues might be and what answers you may be able to provide. Preparing the process Getting the content right is important, but you also need to plan how to manage the selling process— the way you deliver the information.
Consider all the stages of the selling process, from opening the meeting to closing the deal. Do you know what you will do and say in each one and how you will manage the transitions between the phases?
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Feeling relaxed and well prepared is crucial, so rehearse your presentation repeatedly, and ask for feedback from colleagues. Practice delivering your questions, resolving objections, and even closing. The good news is that this does change over time. Armed with leads, your key prospecting tool will be the letter. Review your own agenda and include some relevant material for the customer to look at. Instead, establish rapport, and let the customer do most of the talking.
Learn what you can about the individual and their business. Look for, and reinforce, common ground. Are they familiar with your company? Is there any relevant history between your organizations that could form a bond? Do you share interests or acquaintances in the industry? Presenting your credentials 27 Getting the message right A good way to build a credentials presentation is to r team—not just the sales team, but anyone in iness who would like to contribute.
Ask different rs of the team to put themselves in the position tomer of your company, and talk to you about ey would like to hear. As you build your ation, practice it with the team: discuss how s and tweak it until you get it right. Give some bout the company and yourself. Discuss needs in general, and plain why what you have to offer can be of a company like theirs.
For the meeting to run well, you need to take the initiative, while at the same time acknowledging that the meeting belongs to the customer—it must be focused on providing solutions to their problems. Use your Surprisingly, two-thirds of all sales intuition to decide when to move calls are made to people who do on—you need to work at your not make or implement decisions. The something to trigger conversation, following preamble can help you such as a picture or trophy.
Opening a sales meeting 29 Setting the agenda Guiding the meeting Next, ensure that everyone is clear about the objectives of the meeting. Give each person the opportunity to express their interest in the meeting and what they would like to get out of it. This is crucial: you may not realize the status or position of a participant in your meeting, and run the risk of missing out on a huge opportunity.
Customers resent people who overstay their welcome. Old-style salespeople were loath to lose control of a meeting and so did all the talking and tried to force the customer on to their agenda. Instead, you should acknowledge that the meeting belongs to the customer—you are there to solve their problems, after all. Your role is more as facilitator, to ensure that the meeting runs smoothly. Once you begin addressing issues on the agenda, ensure that the meeting stays focused on the stated purposes.
Try to draw out ideas from all participants, then move the meeting toward an action plan and schedule the follow-up. Running the session When you question a customer at a sales meeting, you need to keep the session light—think of it as an open discussion rather than an interrogation. Comfortable customers invariably reveal more— and more useful—information. At the last minute, one of his internal resources suggested that they show up with only a pad and pen—no presentation at all.
Against his better judgment, he agreed. For two hours, all they did was ask questions and learn about the airline.
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They hardly mentioned Pepsi. They learned that beyond ensuring safety, the biggest need the airline had was to sell more tickets. They had uncovered a critical need that had to be met if they were to be successful in their bid for the business. They developed a plan to give retailers coupons that allowed them to buy airline tickets at a discount: at the time, this was a unique approach that departed from the pattern of typical promotions. A legendary result. Finding the facts To scope out an account or manage a relationship, you need some fundamental pieces of information about the client—their customers, partners, suppliers; their company structure; number of employees; and so on.
Probing the needs Needs-oriented questions get the customer talking and are far more open ended. Responses from the customer will encompass everything from their objectives, goals, hopes, expectations, and aspirations to their problems, concerns, worries, and fears. As your relationship with the client evolves, you can ask progressively deeper questions that will help reinforce trust.
They ask a question and stop talking; try the same technique. Big-picture questions position you to u that the customer does not necessaril has. They are strategic in nature, in e the customer to think about things t like to consider—the future of the b to be overcome, the need to plan contingencies, and long-term go picture questions require plannin your part because they can lead uncomfortable—albeit valuabl discussions.
They eleva the conversation and will eventually result in your being perceived as an adviser or consultant— much more than a salesperson. Keeping tuned in As a salesperson, you are the eyes and ears of your organization; what you learn about your client in a sales meeting will make your company stand or fall. You should be listening at a high level all the time— collecting facts, information, and business-related concepts—but most of all, listening for needs.
Of course, this is the ideal scenario, and in reality your ability to listen is jeopardized by many factors. Instead of listening, you may start anticipating the next question, planning your response, or trying to understand what the customer meant. This research is borne out by a story related by a sales manager, who, along with a colleague, began a sales meeting with a prospective client.
Neither was taking notes. A simple and, arguably, more effective technique can be set out in just two words—Take Notes, or more accurately, Make Notes. From the minute the customer starts talking, you should put pen to paper. But how do you put it into practice? When you bring together a group to develop creative solutions, you need to give the meeting structure. Next, the group should identify the problem and set it into a proper context of background information.
Why is the problem a problem? Could it be turned into an opportunity? Has the problem been addressed before, and how? Who is responsible for results? Approaching a problem 37 Encouraging creative solutions When you begin a brainstorming session, invite ideas, perspectives, recommendations, and insights. Encourage participants to be speculative and open—the meeting should be en exciting, and fun.
Resist any tem evaluate ideas as soon as they ar forward—anything goes. The opportunity to be innovative invariably yields richer results than if individuals feel constrained by rules and limitations. The second part must be devoted to selecting th exciting ideas and evaluating the to develop solutions.
Once an idea has been selected, the challenge becomes how to turn it into a solution. Identifying the positives ensures that you have captured and preserved the parts of the idea that you want to save. Then address each concern, beginning with the most troubling, until the idea becomes acceptable. Selling before presenting Everything you have done up to this point has been focused on learning the needs of your customer. But before you start to present your solutions, you should demonstrate a clear understanding of his or her situation.
Conversely, without thoroughly reviewing the needs, you risk misunderstanding your client and missing the mark with your recommendations. Ensuring a close match When you begin the review, choose your words carefully: tell the client what you heard as opposed to what they said. You just might pick up another need along the way. Timing the review The best time to review needs is either at the end of a needs-determination meeting or at the beginning of a meeting in which you are presenting especially if new people are present, or a lot of time has passed since the last meeting.
Concluding a meeting by reviewing needs ends it on a positive note and sets the stage for the next meeting when you will present. If you have done everything right, the client will already have a strong inclination to buy from you. However, joint sales meetings need to be managed carefully if they are to live up to their potential. First, anyone you bring with you to the meeting needs to have a full understanding of its objective. At the very least, they need to know who the customer is, what they do, where you are in the relationship, and what you hope to accomplish.
Equally importantly, your colleagues need to be clear about what their role in the meeting will be, or you run the risk that they will be unprepared. Are they there to ask questions, make recommendations, help deal with objections, or just to show support and interest? Get the meeting off to a positive start by inviting introductions: make sure that everyone knows who everyone else is and that all are clear about what each party hopes to accomplish. If you have a colleague with you, they can pick up on small details that you may miss.
Chapter 3 Making your recommendations Providing solutions and making recommendations is the part of the selling process that most salespeople like best. This approach has stood the test of time for one reason—it works! Features tell customers how products or services work. Features are facts and hard to debate. You will rarely be challenged when you explain the features of a product or service—they are tangible and objectively notable.
The example below—where a salesperson presents a new design of a stacking chair—shows the types of connections to make. THE HUMAN TOUCH Back in the s, social forecasters were predicting that salespeople would be made obsolete by the turn of the century through advances in computing and revolutionary marketing vehicles, such as direct mail and telemarketing. They could not have been more wrong.
They want to buy from a person who listens to them, understands their needs, and responds with appropriate products and services. When you present your customer with an idea that helps them do their job a bit better, teaches them something new, or addresses a personal issue, you are building value in your relationship that lets you leapfrog way ahead of your competitors. Offering your ideas 47 Salespeople are often reluctant to present uncompensated ideas for fear that they will come across as inappropriate.
So is it really worth taking the risk of crossing established boundaries? Let them know you have been thinking about their situation and that you have an idea for them. Most customers will be intrigued. They offer a great way to end any meeting on a high note. A good rule of thumb is that series have a conventional name and are intentional creations , on the part of the author or publisher. For now, avoid forcing the issue with mere "lists" of works possessing an arbitrary shared characteristic, such as relating to a particular place.
Avoid series that cross authors, unless the authors were or became aware of the series identification eg. Also avoid publisher series, unless the publisher has a true monopoly over the "works" in question. So, the Dummies guides are a series of works. But the Loeb Classical Library is a series of editions, not of works.
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