We’ve all heard the maxim “There’s a proper time and place for everything,” but many of us don’t realize that this advice applies specifically to sales and marketing.
When Salespeople rush into “selling mode” too quickly, they drive away their prospects and pretty much destroy any chance they have of establishing trust and rapport. How many of us have seen an overly ambitious sales rookie clear the room by announcing for all the world to see that he’s here to tell you all about the wonders of “Product X” and for today only he has a special offer ! This is normally followed by handing out brochures and business cards to every person in the room, while ignoring the fact they haven’t expressed any interest whatsoever!
One of the hallmarks of a truly professional salesperson is a knack for good timing. They seem to have an instinct for saying the right thing at the right time, smoothly moving the sales process along to a successful conclusion. Unlike the Fool who Rushes in, the true professional takes the process one step at a time and never forces the issue.
To learn more about how this is done, read on….
THE SALES LADDER
You can compare the selling process to climbing a ladder….one step at a time. If you try and take 3 steps at a time, you will probably fall off the ladder. The proper stair climbing technique is to establish a firm footing on the step you are on now before extending yourself to the next step. In the same way, you must complete the sales activity which belongs on the first step before you can move onto the next step. For example, if you attempt to deliver a sales presentation without first discovering the customer’s needs and wants, you will flounder. If you don’t understand your prospect’s business at all (lack of research), it is unlikely that you’ll even get an appointment with them. Each step of the sales process has an activity and a purpose, and they must be completed in their correct order.
Many of the common mistakes my sales clients make are caused by rushing up the stairs:
— Wasting time on the wrong people (lack of research into correct target market)
— Not asking enough questions
— Failure to Listen with Empathy
— Not finding out the Customer’s WIFM (What’s in it for Me?)
— Missing the Close (customer wants to buy, but you weren’t listening)
— Not getting appointments with the right people
— Giving Up (usually results from trying to rush the outcome)
— Failure to build Trust and Rapport at the beginning
THE FOUR C’S
The most important step on the Sales Ladder is the Needs Analysis step, which generally occurs during one of the first meetings. This step is so critical to your success that it cannot be over-emphasized. If you haven’t taken time to create a communication channel with your prospect, if you don’t know anything about them (and vice versa), there is no basis for any mutual affinity and therefore communication will be non-existent. Before you can proceed with any sales process, there must be a connection and some level of rapport and trust.
The best way I have found to accomplish this is to ask questions….and listen very carefully to their answers. When people are talking about themselves, their company, their family, their life, their challenges they will naturally feel better about YOU. If you are a good listener, with the right questions, you will build an initial relationship. The fact you are willing to listen is what enables your prospective client to build trust and have rapport with you. Amazing, isn’t it?
Before you can begin to listen, you must be prepared with some very good questions. There are 4 types of questions you will find useful, and I call them the 4 C’s. Here they are:
- Curious Find out as much as possible about their business. Ask many open-ended questions and show you are interested.
- Change: Find out what has changed in the past few months. Who transferred out, who got promoted, what are the new product lines, how their business has changed, who’s the new manager?
- Concerns: What are the biggest issues they’re dealing with? What are they worried about? What are they constantly having trouble with?
- Consequences: What are the consequences if (Problem X) is not solved? What impact are they feeling from (Issue Y)? What would happen if (Problem Y) does not get solved? How have they tried to solve it in the past?
The last question (Consequences) is the most important because after thoroughly answering this question the prospect will often simply ask for your help. In talking about their “Ruin” and why it must be dealt with, they will commonly ask you what you can do. Try these questions during your next sales appointment, and you’ll be amazed at the results.
VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: You will know they are talking about their biggest concern when they begin to display EMOTION. When feelings such as anger, frustration, grief, apathy begin to surface, you are right on top of their key issues! Keep focused and listening. When they feel enough pain, they will frequently simply turn to you and ask you for your help. The best way to get into a party is to be INVITED, and this is the doorway that will open and allow you inside!