Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Power Tips

Power Tips
by Michael Dalton Johnson
Everybody likes to buy, because buying is fun. If you don't believe this, try to find a parking space at a shopping mall, or a seat at an auction, this weekend. However, while buying is fun and exciting, nobody likes to be sold. The truth is: the best salespeople don't "sell" their customers; they help them buy.

Get emotional. When presenting your product or service, do not attempt to appeal strictly to the buyer's rational mind with a list of perfectly logical reasons to buy. Instead, fire their imaginations, and appeal to their emotions. Stress the benefits and rewards of owning your product or using your services. If possible, have them hold your product in their hands. Use colorful verbal illustrations that stress benefits. Sprinkle in some brief case histories. Be likeable. Have some fun. Above all, let the customer do most of the talking. Take the pressure to buy out of the experience, and the successful close will come naturally.

What buyers want. In most business-to-business sales situations, the central question on buyers' minds is, "What's in it for me?" Take note: the question is, "What's in it for me?" not, "What's in it for my company?" Let prospects know how your product or service will help them to:

  • Make their jobs easier
  • Look good to management
  • Gain respect and prestige
  • Advance their careers
  • Be appreciated
  • Save time
  • Have some fun and excitement
  • Stay ahead of the competition
  • Minimize their personal risk
Remember, the central question you must answer for the prospect is, "What's in it for me?"

Respect your buyer's intelligence. Speak to your potential customer as if you were talking with an intelligent, yet uninformed friend. Do not insult your prospect's intelligence with inane leading questions such as, "We all want to save time and money, right?" Instead, simply state, "Our product will save you both time and money," and immediately follow this statement with a brief example or two. Allow the prospect to respond to your time and money-savings premise. A high-pressure "What's there to think about?" approach doesn't work in today's business environment. Your buyers are smart, and deserve your respect.

What's in a name? There is no sweeter music than the sound of one's own name. Try to use your prospect's name a couple of times during your sales presentation. However, don't overdo it, or you'll sound insincere and patronizing. If your buyer's name is difficult to pronounce, get the correct pronunciation from the receptionist or secretary. Write it out phonetically, and say it aloud a few times before your meeting.

The nose knows! Do not overwhelm your client's olfactory sense. It is a major turnoff for buyers when a salesperson reeks of perfume, cologne, or aftershave. Prospects will often cut the meeting short just to escape the smell. Rule of thumb: use only enough fragrance that if a loved one were nuzzling your neck, the scent could barely be detected.

Be on time, but don't come early. While this seems painfully obvious, you might be surprised to learn how many sales folk show up late, with some lame excuse. Arriving too early for a meeting is nearly as bad. Never arrive more than ten minutes before your scheduled appointment. Being punctual shows respect and good business form, and will get your meeting off to a good start.

Create powerful imagery. Instead of saying to a business owner, "Your employees will really appreciate this program," consider saying with a smile, "Your employees will stand up and applaud you for giving them this program." Don't worry; the buyer will allow this bit of poetic license. Even though he knows his employees won't really stand up and applaud, the mental image of them doing so is powerful.

Beware the time bandits. Everyone needs a break from the action. However, 20 minutes a day wasted on office small talk, surfing the Net, or personal phone calls adds up to two full weeks a year in lost production. How many sales could you make in two weeks? Eliminate these time bandits, and watch your productivity climb.

Don't interrogate buyers. A recent article in a leading sales publication advised "intense questioning" of prospects to determine their needs. The writer included a laundry list of questions that were both intrusive and transparent. Sophisticated buyers perceive too many probing questions, especially in the first stages of a meeting, as a pitch-tailoring sales tactic—which, of course, is exactly what it is. If you get prospects talking and follow the 80/20 Rule—you listen 80% of the time and talk only 20% of the time—many of your questions will be answered before you even ask them. Sure, you still have to ask questions and seek clarification. But your fact-finding process should flow naturally in response to buyers' comments and conversational pauses. Do not put them on the hot seat.

Breaking the ice. Some telephone cold-call gurus will tell you to offer a pleasantry or two after introducing yourself. They are wrong. Avoid the opening, "How are you?" When spoken over the phone to a stranger, the phrase reeks of insincerity. You might as well scream, "I am a salesperson!" Instead, employ a more businesslike opening, such as, "The reason I'm calling you this morning is to learn about your company's personnel needs, and to see if we can be of help." In other words, after introducing yourself, state the reason for your call. Prospects will appreciate your honesty and respect for their time and intelligence. Only ask, "How are you?" after you've progressed beyond the initial contact, and a relationship has been established.

Don't answer a question with a question. Again, contrary to conventional sales training wisdom, never answer a question with a question. This tactic is usually perceived by the prospect as evasive. For example, if your buyer asks, "When can you ship?" do not respond, "When do you need it?" This strategy diminishes your credibility. Simply tell him your average shipping time, and ask if that works for him. If not, go to bat for him, and if possible, get it for him when he wants it.

Look sharp. The old cliché about dressing for success especially holds true in sales. Your clothes and personal grooming speak volumes about you to buyers, co-workers, and management. If you are looking good, you are undoubtedly feeling good, and you will close more sales. Take a critical look at your appearance, keeping in mind that shoes are one of the first things noticed. Your working wardrobe should be made up entirely of the following materials: cotton, wool, silk, linen and leather. That's it. For men, facial hair is generally a negative. (Name the last politician elected to the presidency who had a moustache or beard.) There are several good books on sharp dressing and good grooming. John T. Molloy's New Dress for Success is an update of the classic.

Never thank anyone for taking your call. This seemingly polite gesture immediately puts you in a subordinate role—and subordinates are easily dismissed. For the same reason, when you finally make contact with a difficult-to-reach prospect, never open with, "You're a hard person to get hold of!"

Mood follows form. When you feel in winning form, you smile, stand up straight, and walk with confidence. On some gloomy, depressing day, try this: smile, stretch, and strut. You will feel your mood begin to lighten as your physical actions mimic those of a winner. The same thing goes for your phone personality. If you sit up straight and smile, you will begin to feel self-confident and purposeful. Your voice will reflect those qualities, and you will enjoy more successful contacts with prospects and clients.

Let the buyer lead. While you always want to maintain subtle control of your conversations with prospective buyers or clients, modify your pace and style to match theirs—sort of like dancing. If your customer likes to chat, by all means indulge in a little small talk. Conversely, do not ask Mr. Down-To-Business about his weekend plans. If a client has a breezy, big-picture personality, do not bog him down with details. This personality type loves to hear, "I'll take care of everything for you." However, if a prospect has questions about every detail, take the time to carefully review the nuts and bolts with him. Reading your buyer's personality and conversational style will pay big dividends in increased sales.

Buyers are like cats (and you're probably a dog!) Just like our feline friends, buyers can be a difficult lot: suspicious, wary, finicky, independent, aloof. If you chase after one, it always runs. If you attempt to coax it, it invariably ignores you. However, if you sit quietly, letting the cat take its time and make up its own mind, before you know it, it's purring on your lap.

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