A confident grasp of the basics of selling will get you a long way in your sales career but not all the way to selling Nirvana, and that, as a sales pro, is where you’ll want to be. This article will help outline a route for you to get there.
Advanced sales techniques basically fall into two camps – psychological and practical – and that’s how they’re divided here. Understanding these two approaches and combining the elements that work best for you in any given sales situation will put you on the road to greater sales success.
Psychology – getting yourself sold
Ask yourself, is sales your religion? Your answer should be yes. And that means the products or services that you are selling should carry your faith. So first off, you’ll need to sell what your selling to yourself and only then will you be able to sell to others. Try this personal exercise. Get a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle. Mark the right column as ‘Sold’ and the left column as ‘Unsold’. Now list all of the features or aspects of what you’re selling in the relevant columns. When finished you’ll have a list of the facts or features you’re not sold on and you can act on that list until you are.
Practical – planning and preparation
Staying on the subject of making lists, and now that you’re fully up to speed on what you’re selling, it is essential that you have a clear plan of what your desired outcome will be – and a Plan B and a Plan C too. To do that, pre-presentation, brainstorm your questions and probable outcomes. Create a flowchart of the ways the sales conversation could go. Be totally prepared and you’ll be totally confident.
Psychology – balancing confidence and enthusiasm
Having complete faith and confidence in your product or service is essential for any sales pro. However, in a sales situation, coming across as being over confident, bullish if you like, is as bad as being weak. Whatever you do, don’t pump yourself up and go like a bull at a gate. Always remember, be confident and enthusiastic but be humble at the same time. Quiet confidence is magnetic. Over confidence is fatal.
Practical – the power of presentation
Before your meeting starts, take a deep breath and calm yourself. When you’re under way, keep your head up, keep good eye contact and exude a friendly yet authoritative manner. Ask questions and be seen to listen, making notes regularly along the way. And use metaphors, which is where your planning and rehearsing comes in. The flow chart bit. By using analogies and metaphors you’ll be able to explain your points far better – always remember that visualisation is realisation!
Psychological – Understanding your prospect
One of the main causes of sales failure is an inability to understand a prospect. This basic business psychology sounds straightforward but in real terms it isn’t. What it is, is an art you must master. It’s all about taking an interest in your prospect. If they drink tea, you drink tea. If they like football, you like football. Find a way during your presentation, or the conversations and ad libs around it, to be as personal as you can. This takes effort and guile but by becoming like them you’ll be them and they’ll buy.
Practical – find their driver
This is a quick and simple point that’s well worth utilising. Everyone has a need, it’s just that many don’t know it yet. Through good questioning (and listening of course) you’ll be able to refine your prospect’s need and highlight it with two questions:
“What would happen if you didn’t fix/replace/address this need?”
“What would happen if you did fix, replace/address this need?”
By getting your prospect to really think about the consequences of each question you’re halfway home.
Psychological – don’t offer more, offer less
The psychology of choice is an interesting conundrum. On the one hand, choice is a great thing and yet on the other it can be so bad that it could even be a deal breaker. Your task is always to simplify, to categorise, to break features, products or services down into easily digestible chunks. The fact is, there’s so much choice out there that your prospect can become bewildered by it. The poor sales person will only add to that confusion and so the simpler you can make things for your prospect, the greater your chances of a sale.
Practical – the Sales Commando close
Refining choice, defining need, understanding what drives your prospect and what they really want, demonstrating how your product or service can best meet that need – these factors all build up to the ultimate aim of your presentation; the close. You’ll know when you reach the point of closure because you’ll have rounded up all of the salient points of your presentation and gained a positive answer to each. I’ll finish with a practical example of how this can be done:
In this example, your contact is Joanne and you’re selling software:
YOU: So Joanne, we found your current system isn’t providing what you need?
JOANNE: That’s correct.
YOU: You told me about the extra work load that’s being created by not taking care of this?
YOU: And you’re happy to deal with me as your liaiser?
YOU: Then I’ll just need a couple of signatures here and here.
Sounds simple doesn’t it? Believe me, it’s not. Advanced sales techniques take time to master, refine and deliver. I hope, though, that by illustrating these techniques – both psychological and practical – you’ll be able to succeed where others only fail.
Happy selling and see you in Nirvana!
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