Whether you’re an entrepreneur just starting out or you’re at the front line in an SME, first and foremost you’re in the business of selling. Selling is the life-blood of every business and if you don’t sell, there’ll be no business – it’s as clear cut as that.
We’re all born with a basic selling instinct but to be truly successful in a professional selling role requires us to hone our natural instincts with rules, methodologies and practices that not only enrich us personally but that elevate us above our competition.
There are three distinct processes of selling that are vital to master for the survival and success of your business – preparation, using the telephone to get an appointment and meeting face to face. This is the focus of this article.
Preparation, rehearsal and drill
The biggest secret of successful sales is organisation and preparation. It’s simply not enough to know your product or service inside out, you need to know your target the same way too.
It all starts with research, otherwise known as ‘attention to detail.’ When you’re collating data and building a contact list, it is essential you invest energy and time into segregation so that, for example, the construction industry, teachers, the service sector, bin men – whatever – are individually grouped.
By grouping contacts into definable demographics you will experience the ‘morphing effect.’ In principle, this means when you talk to a specific group of people you will naturally begin to hone selling techniques to suit that group. The more prospects in each group you approach, the better your selling will become for that particular group. Grouping is an effective strategy and lies at the heart of successful sales.
Even though, at this point, you’ve got a well-defined contact list, it’s still not time to get out there and start selling. The final and arguably most important part of your preparation is to rehearse and drill yourself so that you are in perfect shape to make that call, knock on that door or lift a telephone.
Create an outline script of what you want to say to each prospect group. Then rehearse various ways of saying the same thing so you can appeal to different character types and market segments. Your scripting should not be so rigid as to be a noose around your neck. Always listen to what your prospect says and adapt your approach accordingly.
No prospect likes being talked to or simply told what your product or service features are. Prospects want to know what’s in it for them and through segregation, rehearsal and flexibility in a sales situation you will have the confidence to engage your potential customers and in turn persuade them to engage with you.
Don’t ever lose sight of the fact the effort you put in pre-sales will be directionally proportionate to the results you get out. It’s a simple dictum that goes a long, long way.
Using the telephone to get an appointment
Now you’ve got your contact list defined and grouped (and you’ve rehearsed and rehearsed your approach) it’s time to get on the phone to arrange a face to face appointment.
As professional persuaders, the words we use are our ammunition, and never more so than on the telephone. So use positive words, employ strong open questions and make robust statements. This will require pre-planning and as we’ve seen above, pre-planning is essential to sales success.
The other weapon we have in using the telephone is vocal inflection. Simply, if you’re talking about something the prospect should be excited about, sound excited, positive and happy.
However you verbalise your telephone presentation, the call will go through three main phases; Introduction and Permission, Question and Short Story and The Close. For each phase it’s best to create a basic script which should go something like this:
The introduction and permission:
“Hi, Is that John?”
“Good, this is Doug from … we’re a … and the reason for the call is …”
The question and short story:
“Before I begin, can I ask you a few questions?” (have your questions pre-prepared)
“So when’s a good time to sit down with you? Morning or afternoon? I’m available Tuesday at 10 or would Wednesday at 2 be better?”
As always, practice makes perfect. Be adaptable to change for different clients and above all always remain upbeat, no matter how the call goes.
Meeting your customer face to face – know your SSS
SSS stands for Sales System for Success. It means having a clear process for your meeting.
Rehearse set pieces before your meeting. Explore a number of set moves in your head that you can re-enact seamlessly depending on how the meeting develops. This way you’ll be able to overcome any obstacle that comes your way. In other words, be pitch perfect before the pitch.
In the meeting, show your prospect you care and that you respect them. Listen to what they say and ask as many questions as you can. Above all, make sure your body language is working for you and not against you. Research has proven people make rapid and lasting impressions – make yours the best.
Finally, remember that people like people first, they trust people second and they do business with people they trust third. Follow the rules for the three phases of selling – mastering a contact list, telephoning for a meeting and conducting a face to face pitch and you’ll most certainly have elevated your sales potential to reach that close with aplomb.
About the author Doug Tucker is Founder and Managing Director of Sales Commando, an international sales training organisation. His motto is “Have fun. Make money.”
For further information please visit: sales-commando.com