What’s your image of the best salesperson in your industry?
If your mind just conjured up a vision of a sharp-suited, smooth-tongued, quick-witted sales superstar, able to sell snow to the Eskimos then you need to reframe.
Because old style selling is well on the way out!
In this age of ubiquitous information and savvy buyers, the role of salespeople is no longer simply to persuade prospective customers of the merits of your products or services.
It is much more about helping them to connect with the right partners with the right solutions to their on-going business needs.
Most sales only happen after your prospective customer has bought into you and your company and what you can do for them and their organisation.
If you are still hustling for sales opportunities where your sole aim is to pitch your products and services to win orders, it may be time to change your approach.
Here are my top 9 tips to become the best salesperson out there:
1. Listen and learn
Stephen Covey wrote: “Seek first to understand…then to be understood”.
Lose the smooth salesperson’s patter. Selling starts by listening and learning.
Instead, find out as much as you can about your prospective customers, their needs, and their challenges.
2. Ask probing questions
Let your prospective customers volunteer as much information as possible without interrupting them.
Keep them talking by gently asking probing questions.
Use the “5 W’s (and 1H)” technique.
It will keep the conversation going and give you a far deeper understanding.
3. Share your own knowledge and insight
By learning from your customers in this way you develop great knowledge and insight on the industry and market in which you operate.
You can then share this knowledge to help others on their journey towards best practice, building trust and credibility in the process.
People buy from people that they know, like and trust.
4. Monetise your solution
From the position of being a “trusted advisor”, you are more likely to get your prospective customers to articulate what their “pain points” are costing them or the additional revenues that new opportunities could bring them.
This enables you to put a value on your solution. And value always trumps price.
5. Obtain commitment
Having understood your customers’ challenges you need to get them to commit to giving you the chance to work with them on solutions.
Every buyer has choices, including the choice to do nothing for now or to go to a competitor.
6. Give 3 options in every proposal
If you only present one option, you risk presenting the wrong one and potentially losing the sale.
Options can range from low-end to premium solutions.
These demonstrate the full value of your proposition and bring into clearer focus the key factors driving the buying decision.
7. Always present your proposal in person
You bring unique value to your customers.
Don’t simply email a quotation or post a proposal. Take the time to present it in person and discuss potential comments and concerns.
Make the agreement face to face. No matter how prestigious your organisation, people buy from people.
8. Follow up and follow through
No matter where you are in your sales process, always schedule the next step before ending your meeting.
If your prospective customer decides not to go ahead with you, don’t just chalk it up to experience and walk away.
Take the trouble to find out why you and your company didn’t get the business this time. There will be a next time won’t there?
Even if there isn’t, you will have learned something valuable to take into your next prospect.
9. Ask for referrals
Prospecting can be tough.
There’s no better introduction to a prospective customer than referrals from existing customers.
So, whilst you are delivering value for them, they can be returning the favour by recommending you to others.
I’m a great believer in the “wheel of reciprocation”. You get back what you give out.
If you follow the tips in this article, you’ll be about as far away from the traditional image of the smooth-talking salesperson as it’s possible to be.
And you will be a much more successful salesperson because:
- You’ll be a go-to expert in your industry.
- Someone that your existing customers will know, like and trust.
- A person who they will feel comfortable recommending as a trusted advisor.
- Someone who listens to the real challenges that businesses like theirs face.
- And works together with them to find solutions and create value.
If you want to learn more about any of the techniques outlined above, please do check out the following links:
“All things being equal people will do business with, and refer business to, those people they know, like, and trust.” The Go-Giver by Bob Burg and John David Mann