Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Write your orders in advance

Is it possible to write your orders in advance? What if you show up on your customer's doorstep with the order all made out and all you need is their signature? I would say it would be possible if the order was already placed, or they had called in and wanted you to stop by and pick up the actual order confirmation.

But what if it was a mistake? What if you made the call and expected to get the order, only to find out that they never called in? What if it was a set up?

I once conducted a test at a distributor to see if the sales person could get a better response when they believed they were going to make a sale verses calling on a customer without this belief.

On Monday the sales manager and I carefully selected 10 prospects, each in a different sales area that was not currently buying. In each account we obtained the name of the person who was responsible for doing the purchasing. Tuesday this information was passed along to the sales person in that area saying that the prospects had called in and wanted to talk to someone about placing an order.

This changed the dynamics of the entire call. Was there any hesitation about making the call? None. Was there any doubt about whether they might or might not want to see you? None. Was there a lot of time spent worrying about what to talk about. No. It was as simple as going to the store and buying a loaf of bread.

At the Friday sales meeting we confessed. After the dust settled, the results were discussed with each sales person. Seven out of the ten reported a positive response. They each admitted the call was made with a totally different frame of mind. There was no hesitation before the actual confusion started and obvious misunderstanding.

The lesson learned from this exercise was simple. If you know what you want, take action and expect to get it your results will be much better. And just how do you accomplish that? Make a plan for each call, know what you want and expect to get it.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

A known demand

In the mid-1800s, "A.T". Steward learned a valuable lesson that will help us all.

Here's what happened …

As a young boy in Ireland, he saved up $1.50 and decided to try his hand at selling merchandise. He spent $0.87 (half of his money) on buttons and string. Then, he went door-to-door and tried to sell his goods.

The result? A total failure. Instead of giving up, he learned this valuable lesson, "I'll find out what the housewives really want and sell that." He did some research and discovered a “known demand.”

Using the last of his money, he bought things that people really wanted. Because they wanted them, he had no difficulty at all in selling them for a profit. He said about this experience … "I will never gamble again in business. I will first discover what people want."

A.T. moved to New York with some Irish-spun Belfast linens and laces (a known demand) and opened a shop on Broadway, A. T. Stewart & Co. From there he built the largest merchant business in the world focusing on his strengths and a known demand.

By 1848 he had built the largest retail store in the world at that time. Stewart also had branches of his company in different parts of the world and owned several mills and factories. Stewart had an annual income of $1,843,637 in 1863. His business success is estimated to have made him one of the twenty wealthiest people in history, with a fortune of approximately US$90 billion in 2012 prices.

How can we, as sales people, benefit from this story? Before you start to make your sales pitch, find out what your customer wants (a known demand) and help them get it. You won't have to sell, only help them buy.

All of my books and programs are based on what you, a person who sells for a living, want (a known demand).

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Thursday, September 3, 2015

Your mother won't even tell you....

I have often wondered if people who talk too much are capable of changing. Maybe it's because no one will tell them - not even their mother!

What is the one thing eighty percent of all customers dislike about sales people? The answer is not surprising: Talking too much. Your role as a sales professional is not to "show and tell" but to "ask questions and listen".

The reason you talk too much is understandable. You called on the customer and asked for some of their time. This sets up a professional expectation on the part of the customer, "You asked for my time, now tell me why you want it." The pressure then falls on the sales person to deliver a presentation. This is the point in the selling process that separates the professionals from the armatures. The armature mistakenly believes that selling and talking is the same thing. The professional knows that you can't sell anything until you first know what the customer wants.

There is an old proverb that would look great on your dashboard as a reminder: "We are all given a certain number of words to speak, when we speak them all we die!"

How many of these powerful selling techniques require you to go on-and-on about your products and company?

~ Remove any previous objections or solve any previous problems before you start your presentation.

~ Before trying to convince your customer of a new idea find out what they based their last purchase on.

~ Get your customer talking about their future goals and listen for clues that will tie your products or services and their future together.

~ Find out by careful listening and questioning what your customer wants and let them know that you are sincerely interested in helping them get it.

~ The ability to get your customers to talk as you carefully listen will position you as a friend and partner.

~ Be a good listener and you will demonstrate how intelligent you really are.

~ If you find that you are doing all the talking and responding to carefully asked questions, you might end up talking yourself out of the sale.

~ To increase your confidence focus on your customer rather than yourself by asking questions.

~ Ask questions about the quality standards they use so you will be able to present the right products and prices when the time comes.

~ Find out if there is anything your prospect dislikes or would like to change about their current deliveries.

~ Find out if the prospect is having trouble finding people to staff the operation.

~ Find out how aggressive the company is in their marketing.

~ Find out what type of customer base the prospective new account has or is targeting.

~ Show them by your interest in their business that you are interested in their success.

~ Listen for “points of difference ” that you can use to set your company apart from the competition.

Here's my favorite: "It is better to be silent and thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt."

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