Category - Business

Raw Talent

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If there were one thing I could emphasize to C-level executives is that starting

 

with the right people, the best people, is the key to everything. Yes there are lots

 

of other important factors, if there wasn’t, I wouldn’t have contents for the book,

 

but I often get asked to “train-up my salespeople”. When I ask a few questions I

 

learn that they are just not trainable. Not everyone is trainable and probably for

 

different reasons than you might think.

 

There are 3 things that make salespeople successful.

Those things are

Attitude, Activities and Approach.

These are the three ‘secrets’ to sales success.

 

 

Are they secrets? Of course not but I am amazed how often they are not adhered

 

to, therefore, maybe they are secrets.

 

To me the most important is the first one; ATTITUDE.

 

 

Attitude is the belief in yourself, your environment, your work ethic. It’s that fire in

 

your belly that makes you do whatever it takes to get the job done. No excuses,

 

no “almost” no sort of, no close but not quite there

 

Attitude is the real deciding factor in success. That being said are there some

 

things, some raw talent that helps move this along better and faster? You betcha!

 

Pay attention here if you have any mediocre salespeople. If you do,

 

ask yourself why. Let me answer it for you, because you allow it! That’s right.

 

Your fault. You. No one else. Let me tell you a story to help illustrate this point.

 

 

 

Raw Talent.

 

Our son was recruited in 2012 to play for the Kansas City Royals as a left-

 

handed pitcher. Of course he began in the minor leagues. His first week in

 

Arizona was an exciting one. Barely holding in his excitement, he proceeded to

 

go on the field to work with the pitching coach early in week one.

 

Immediately after the introductions and hand-shake niceties Clayton began

 

showing the coach his pitches. “I was really known for my change up. I also have

 

an excellent curve ball”. He could barely contain himself in anticipation of what

 

the coach would say.

 

After he threw his pitches and looked at the coach for his endorsement, the

 

coach began the conversation like this, “ Clayton I don’t give a “darn” (expletives

 

replaced) how you pitched in college and I sure don’t care that you were known

 

for your change-up. We hired you for your raw talent boy. We didn’t pick you for

 

your fancy pitches you threw in school! I will teach you how to throw a curve ball

 

and that change-up? Forget it! You will do it my way and I will make you a pro

 

player. You don’t like that, you can leave today!”

 

 

When he called home with his tale between his legs and told us that story, I

 

explained that was a good thing. If all you had were your pitches, he didn’t have

 

much to work with to make you great! They see something in you that is the

 

makings of someone great. That is to be proud of.

 

The moral here? In business, hire for RAW TALENT. These are things like

 

confidence, bravery, desire and commitment. The rest can and should be taught.

 

If you hire off of a resume of someone who has sold, you may be looking over

 

Someone that can…you may be missing the boat!

Top 5 Sales Presentation Fails

When making a presentation there are some mistakes that will often cost you the sale

1) Handing out your “proposal” before you present.

Steve c present

Well if you are going to hand out the presentation, why do you even need to be there? At best they can ‘follow along with you’ which means they will not be looking at you, at worst, you haven’t truly discussed things like the cost and they are jumping ahead and looking at the back page with pricing and you begin to sound like Charlie Browns teacher, “waa waa waa waa”.

2) Not engaging all of the people you are presenting to in your meeting

Gonna ignore you

Working with one person in the organization and then having to present to several is a scenario most of us will experience. If this happens you have no idea if they agree with the issues your contact had and even if they do agree, if you don’t get them talking right at the beginning, you are just “pitching” and not engaging them in the recommendations. Big mistake!

3) Talking to your projector screen and not to the prospects.

dont look at screen

So often we are so proud of the presentation we put together that we watch it as closely as they do. First of all there is nothing more frustrating for your prospect then feeling ‘pitched to’ and not listened to.

4) Not talking about money beforehand and having to justify cost at the actual presentation.

Show me the money

It is truly important to have learned enough to ask the right questions to be able to discuss some round numbers and get an agreement before you present.

5) Not understanding what will happen after you present.

Not understand whats next

The common misunderstanding is that after you present your recommendations or proposal is that you have to then wait for their answer be cause they have to ‘think it over’. NO THEY DON’T. Learn what that process is before you present and if there needs to be a next step, you need to know that before and find out that day.

Top 5 Hiring Mistakes #Top5Fridays

Top 5 Hiring Mistakes

 

  • (1) Looking for new employees when one is leaving.

top 5 hiring picture 1

I think we all know the value of a good employee. Make no mistake, if you hire (and manage) right, your organization runs like a

well oiled machine and I defy anyone to argue that. “Get the right people on the bus in the

right seats” the famous quote from the top-notch book Good to Great by Jim Collins. That

being said why are we looking for employees only when we “need” one. You always need

them if they are great and greatness doesn’t come along only when you are looking so be

looking all of the time.

Our biggest problem with looking when we “need” someone is the desperation factor. We

often hire to fill a need by hiring “the best of the worst”. When we are feeling pressure

from a department or another employee to lighten their load we often make a decision not

for the “best person” but the “best for right now person”. This will hurt you in the long run

every time.

 

2)Hiring off of a resume’.

top 5 hiring picture 2

When I say it is a mistake hiring off of a resume’ I don’t mean to presume you actually hire when a good resume comes in without other important considerations. What I do mean is being impressed by the background they have had; whom they’ve worked for and what they’ve done. Background is less important then things like eagerness to learn, commitment and desire to be successful. Hire for attitude, train for skill.

 

3) Hiring in your image.

top 5 hiring picture 3

Allowing the likeability factor to take over the actual decision of the best candidate. We like people that are like us, that we relate to but in hiring that is not to be used as a gauge. We all make decisions emotionally, meaning we decide on things in our life business and personal by our gut, by what we feel. In some cases it’s enough but in the decision of hiring someone to help you grow your business, there needs to be much more then you like them.

 

4) Selling the candidate on the job.

top 5 hiring picture 4

We are passionate about our organization and all of the good things that we offer. Because of that, we sell the candidate on how great the job is instead of really qualifying them first. One of the most important things we need to do in an interview is to ask good questions and listen for the answers. It is called an interview for a reason. Do not get caught up in telling the candidate all about the job, what it takes, the duties the company benefits etc. Do not get caught up in this sale. You may find out too late the things you could have found out upfront.

 

5) Overlooking a teachable, trainable candidate for one with “experience”. (A topic discussed on the #SELLutions podcast episode 1)

top 5 hiring picture 5

The idea of hiring someone with experience is sales is understandable. It seems like a good idea for someone who can just fit right into a job and start off fast and furious. This is often not the case, though it takes more work and effort to train someone it often proves to be much more lucrative in the end because you have taught them in your way. Unfortunately sales people seem to have more bad habits then good ones when they leave a job. Though this can be an overstatement it is more often true then not.

 

The key is to be looking for someone better then your best person, all of the time. If one of your salespeople said to you that they were going to look for new business only when they lose existing business, you would probably fire them. Then don’t do the same thing. As an executive, your prospecting responsibility is looking for top-level salespeople all of the time. Not just when you lose one.

 

How’s your organization doing? Take a free assessment and find out;

www.CorpSalesTest.com

 

 

 

Greta Schulz is President of Schulz Business, a sales Consulting and Training firm. She is a best selling author of “To Sell IS Not To Sell” and works with fortune 1000 companies and entrepreneurs. For more information or free sales tips go to www.schulzbusiness.com and sign up for ‘GretaNomics’, a weekly video tip series or email sales questions to greta@schulzbusiness.com

 

 

A World Without Salespeople

If buyers could get by without salespeople, do you think they would? I think most would say yes simply because when buyers/prospects think about “a salesperson” they don’t typically think about someone who brings real value to their organization. Why? Because most salespeople have done a poor job of really helping the prospect. Salespeople are much more concerned with showing our “value” to as many people as possible, as quickly as possible rather than diagnosing each prospects issues and trying to solve them.

 

Most salespeople bring to their prospects lots of information. Interestingly, information is something any buyer can gather from other sources. At the end of the day, you as a salesperson must ask yourself, “Am I really bringing value to the prospect or just information?” If you are bringing information, then you’re wasting your time, your company’s time, and your prospects time. You might as well just email your buyer the information and then go play on Facebook.

 

As a salesperson, if you can’t honestly and fully understand the issues you’ll need to help your customers overcome, then you really have to begin questioning the role you play. With the advent of technology and communication, the role of the salesperson has changed. If you as a salesperson have not recognized and embraced this change, then you are nothing more than a walking brochure.

 

Prospects and clients alike don’t want more information. They want solutions. Unfortunately, because prospects are often far too invested in their own issues, they don’t even know what their specific issues are that you may be able to solve. This is the role the salesperson needs to play — the role of helping identify the problems, whether obvious or obscure, and turning them into opportunities you can solve.

 

So how do you go about identifying problems? You as the salesperson must become an investigator – someone who is determined to find out what really is happening in an organization, industry and global marketplace. Asking questions is the key. “But Greta, if I show them our solutions and how we have solved them for others, they will see how we can help”. Really? How’s that working for you?

Start this process by shifting your focus. Instead of just delivering information to your customer, begin to ask more questions. When I ask clients to do this exercise, they almost always come up with these leading questions. For example; “if I could show you how to save up to 20% on your ____, is that something you would be interested in?” Seriously? When you develop a question, make sure it passes the “duh” factor. If the answer of the question could be “duh, of course”, don’t ask it.

A few things to keep in mind when developing good, thought-provoking questions are;

  • Research their organization in advance. Find out all that you can about them and the decision makers too. It’s so easy today to gather information so don’t skip this step. They will have much less respect for you if you don’t.
  • Use open ended questions. I know you’ve heard this before but it is imperative to keep this is mind. Help the prospect to think by asking questions that get them to think about the answer. Questions that begin with; “What are your thoughts on…”, ‘share with me…”, “What would happen if…” are good examples. Anything that helps them engage in a discussion with you is the basic foundation of a good question the more they are talking the more they are beginning to sell themselves. Success comes from them self-realizing they need what you have, not by you telling them.

 

  • Once you feel you have gathered enough information to tell them why they should use your solution, don’t. You are still not ready. Begin by summarizing what you have heard and what solutions they would need to solve the issue. Not a summary of what you can do but what they need. It must be summarized from their words and a solution they have expressed they are looking for. For example; “So what it sounds like is that you not only need a faster widget but fast enough to keep up at the accelerated pace that you are expecting to continue. Is that right?”

When you can clearly identify ways you’ve helped your buyer achieve either of these outcomes, then you will know you’re no longer the type of salesperson that buyers love to hate. Plus, you’ll be growing your bottom line at the same time. And that’s a lot better than simply doling out information!

Follow Greta and Schulz Business HERE! https://twitter.com/Schulzbusiness

Are Your Salespeople Riding the Wave?

business surfer

The worst seems to be over but our economy is, inevitably, cyclical. Like the rest of us, it has its ups and downs. Yet, when we are in a down cycle, do you get nervous about the economy? And do other factors external to your industry, including world events (such as elections for example) cause you to tighten your belt?

Cycles in the economy and moments of national or world uncertainty are not a time for either anxiety or celebration but a time to be realistic and acknowledge that what goes up, must come down. I certainly don’t mean to be a downer but if we learned anything in the last few years I hope we learned that you need to be lean and mean all of the time, not just when the going gets tough. Your sales team needs to be able to respond to this volatility. If it does not, the competition’s sales team surely will.

During these last few months, with things seeming to lighten up, the opportunities are more fruitful. I am sure your sales team feels pretty good about themselves lately but what is the truth? If your salespeople are accustomed to having sales fall in their laps, especially newer ones, they have yet to be put to the test.

With the buying opportunities seeming to now be coming along more frequently, are our salespeople really good or just reaping the benefits of a comeback?

Right now, your sales team could be the weakest part of your company. It may not seem that way since you have most likely seen an upswing in sales, even slightly and are feeling relieved. Well don’t!

Many salespeople are showing their feathers like a proud peacock but fail to recognize that their sales in these times simply may be coming to them along with the ebb and flow of the economy but with very little true sales ability involved.

A lot of companies wait until desperate times. Then the layoffs and cost cutting begins. Smart companies do not wait. They know that they should evaluate their sales force now, finding out who has effective selling skills to utilize in the slump that may lie ahead.

When assessing your team, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What are the necessary elements for selling in a good and not so good economy?
  • Which salespeople have those elements?
  • Which of your sales people may not have the necessary skills, and why are we waiting to replace them?

If salespeople are not strong enough to make it through tough times, they probably do not belong on your team at all. Evaluate their skills. Go on a sales call with each salesperson and see how he/she performs in the real world. Another option is to have them each take an assessment that shows the skills they truly have—and don’t have*.

Hold your ground and act as though the economy were flourishing. Keep in mind that the economy is cyclical. When things are good, act as if you were looking for ways to build revenues and cut costs. Do it now, that way, you are not caught off guard when things recede —which they always do. Now is when real sales professionals can shine.

 

For further information on this subject follow the link http://www.schulzbusiness.com/interview-questions.aspx

 

* If you would like to take a free assessment for a salesperson on your team, email me at greta@schulzbusiness.com and I will send you the link.

It’s All about the Process.

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It’s about the process

 

Ryan, a software sales rep, had been having a rough day. He’d been bombarded with questions from several customers and gotten behind on work that he needed to finish before the end of the day.

He then got a call from Wayne, a prospect who introduced himself by saying: “I’ve heard great things about your engineering software package. I saw a demo about a year ago, and was not in a position to purchase it at the time. But since then, it’s become very apparent that I need to integrate it into my system.”

“Wow,” Ryan thought. “This will be easy. It’s about time something went right today.”

Then, Wayne said: “I need to know about the cost, the tech support and how soon it can be installed.”

Ryan immediately went into his pitch. He discussed tech support in detail, covered availability and other options, and explained that the price was $12,000, with 30-day terms.

Wayne’s response was unexpected. He said that $12,000 was quite a hefty price tag and he needed a couple of days to think about all of this more carefully. He’d call Ryan back next week.

Ryan did a double take. “What just happened?” he thought. “This sale was in the bag, a sure thing. He really needs it and now he’s thinking it over? He said he needed the software right away.” And that was the end of the call.

 

So, what happened? Ryan got lazy, plain and simple. He thought Wayne was sold. He thought that all he had to do was give him the information he needed, then write it up. He got fooled into assuming the sale without doing the work. He never got Wayne to talk about why he was looking now, with what seemed to be a real priority about buying the software. The entire transaction was conducted at the intellectual level, without any real understanding of the true need.

So, what happened? Ryan was lured into taking shortcuts. He mistakenly thought the prospect’s enthusiasm was a sure sale.

 

You need the time to qualify the prospect and make sure he’s real before giving out information or making your presentation.

In Ryan’s case, a couple of questions would have made a world of difference. He might have said: “Before we discuss pricing, help me understand why this software is so important. I want to make sure the application is correct for you. Would you mind if I ask you a couple of questions?”

It is so important to gather this information before you discuss price so you can truly have an understanding of not only why they want the software, but the consequence of not installing it.

Once you give away your information – whether on the phone, in a presentation or in the form of a proposal – you have given up any form of control and are at the mercy of the prospect.

Remember: It’s not about the sale; it’s about the process.

 

Greta Schulz is known as one of the best top sales speakers and trainers in Florida. She has made a name for herself in the sales training and business training community. From her best selling books to her weekly updated blogs and articles she produces nothing but the best Sales Tips for you.

For more sales training tips and tools, or to ask her a question, go to www.schulzbusiness.com or email greta@schulzbusiness.com.

 

Are Salespeople Born or Made?

salesperson

salesperson

 

Are salespeople born or are they made? I hear this question a lot.   Surprisingly, the answer is “made.” Believe it or not, there are learned characteristics that help catapult success in sales.   And they aren’t what you think.

First and foremost, when it comes to sales success, the two most important things you have to have are commitment and desire. You have to have the desire to be successful and the commitment to do whatever it takes to get there.

That being said, the other characteristics are based on beliefs and influence the ability to sell.

Here they are:

  • Takes Personal Responsibility: Someone who lacks this trait always blames someone else (the prospect, the competition, the economy) for his or her lack of success. He has an answer for everything and an external explanation for why he didn’t get the business. So how do you test someone to see if he’s got this trait? Ask this question:

“If the economy shifts downward fifteen to twenty percent, and your goals were based on last year’s figures, how should your goal numbers change?”

  • Can Control His or Her Emotions: Someone who lacks this trait takes things a prospect says personally. He gets excited over comments the prospect makes and does a lot of defending instead of learning why the prospect said what she did. To test for this trait, ask this question:

“If a prospect say’s she’s unwilling to work with us because of a bad past experience, but you know the company is different now and has corrected the problem, what would you do?”

 

  • The Way Your Salesperson Makes His Own Purchases: This is a huge clue telling you how about that person’s selling style. A salesperson that comparison shops will empathize with prospects who do the same. Typically, this person’s number one factor in getting a “good deal” is the lowest cost. That’s trouble. So how do you test the trait? Ask this question:

“When you’re shopping for a large purchase, what’s your process like?”

There’s a whole bunch of other characteristics, but these three are interesting because most employers don’t look for them. Instead, they look for someone who’s outgoing, a “real people person”. Not only is that a not what to look for, but it can hurt you because the salesperson’s underlying beliefs are unknown.

Oh, by the way… when you ask the questions posed above, these are the answers you want to hear:

 

  1. They shouldn’t. Not at all. When the economy is good, salespeople are often “order takers”, rather than being true salespeople. Since it comes easy, they often forget (if they ever had it to start with) their real selling ability. The salesperson has to find a way to make sales happen and not accept that external factors are responsible. I wonder how your mortgage company would if you said this:: “The economy is down, so I’ll only be paying you 80% from now on.” Let me know how that one goes!
  2. Find out why and what happened. The wrong answer begins with “Yeah, but…” and defends something that not only doesn’t work, but also doesn’t get to the root of the real problem. For you to find out, you have to dig deep and ask the right questions.  
  3.  Their process should include things like deciding what he wants, going to one or two stores and    buying it that day. Why is that important? Because the more research your salesperson does and the more comparison shopping they do overrides what you teach them about getting a commitment from the prospect. They believe in looking around and comparing and if it kicks in, they’ll empathize with the prospect that says, “This looks good! But I need to look at a few other proposals.” Translation: “I’m not interested in yours.”

So no matter how friendly and outgoing someone is, don’t confuse it with the characteristics of a good salesperson. If he has some of the above characteristics, he can be taught to sell—even if he’s the quiet and reserved type!

 

 

 

 

The New Normal in Business Development

Are You Asking Questions??

 

Are You Asking Questions??

The New Normal in Selling

What’s the new normal when it comes to developing business? This is not the old ‘ask a few questions, give your features and benefits and trial close’. The 70s wants their slick sales guy back. Today you need to be smart, curious and a true consultant to sell. Here are a few things that today are imperative in business growth.

1) Tell the prospect its OK to break up….Rejection is a result of trying to sell someone your product or service as opposed to tell them you what you are calling about, let them know it seems that because of what they do you could potentially work together, but (pull back) you don’t want to assume that you are a good fit. What you’d like to do is ask a few questions to see if the two of you are a fit and if not, we decide it’s a NO then we only wasted a few minutes? Sound OK?

This allows you to give a NO as an option right upfront. Then you have asked for it as opposed to a prospect pushing you away and that is the rejection.

2) Mining for customers is different today. Networking is the true key to finding and  keeping customers but most people do it wrong. Networking events ate not for direct prospecting! Recognize this scenario?

“Hey do you guys use promotional products? here’s a sample, we can really help you!!”..” NO! Instead I say go to an event and look for Strategic Alliances, people that you can refer business back and forth to as opposed to hitting your potential prospects so hard. We all know building business on referrals is the best way to do business so lets network for good alliances that you can refer business to and that is a good source for your referrals.

3) Research should be used for credibility. Research is essential today before you pick up the phone and call anyone. No excuses! The most important reason to do your research on their web site, Google etc. is to create good, quality questions to ask them to engage your prospect in conversation and truly understand their needs not to tell them that you’ve researched their company and since they do this, we can sell you that…

4) If you need to discount to get the business is almost always a result of onof these things. a) The customer doesn’t truly trust you/your product or service so there is only price to use as a differentiator or b) you haven’t truly understood the need for the product. I know need seems simple but it isn’t.

What are they trying to say? What impression are they trying to leave, howdo they want to be seen? What are they using it for? There are lots of questions to not only understand what a prospect needs but the true deep-down ‘whys’. Asking questions will let you also gain credibility and trust but not Selling and truly asking and listening….

5)  Listen and shut up!! Wow! If I could teach people that are in sales/business development to ask questions and listen there would be a lot more success in business!

Telling isn’t selling…but it comes from a good place. We are excited about what we represent and want other to be excited too but excitement doesn’t sell, questions and true engagement does.

Long ago we were taught to ask a few questions and when you hear a “ buying signal” jump in and tell them you can help with that and how. NO!

When you ask a question, wait for the answer and whatever the answer is, especially if it may be something your product or service can help with, the best next question is, “tell me about that”, then SHUT-UP!!!

 

Greta Schulz is President of SchulzBusiness, a sales Consulting and Training firm. She is a best selling author of “To Sell IS Not To Sell”. One of the Best Sales Speakers, She has a Second Edition “To Sell is Not To Sell” Out NOW

! For more information or free sales tips go to www.schulzbusiness.com and sign up for ‘GretaNomics’, a weekly video tip series or email sales questions to greta@schulzbusiness.com

Click Book to order

New Book, To Sell IS NOT To Sell, 2nd Edition!!

New Book, To Sell IS NOT To Sell, 2nd Edition!!

SELL NAKED/ Telling isn’t Selling!

Asking Questions

Jim arrived at the office of Bob Simmons, President of the ABC tool and Dye Company early so he could sit in the parking lot and review in his head what he wanted to say. Jim practiced each step of his presentation in his head and exactly what he wanted to say and how he wanted to say it. He knew that his power point slides were perfectly in order and were just want he needed to land this account. He knew what this company needed because he has called on other companies like this and helped them just like he can help this one. Jim took a deep breath and walked into the building, “I’ve got this one down” he thought and proceeded in the door.

Once the pleasantries were over Jim got right down to business. “Mr. Simmons, I have been with my company for the past 3 years and our company has been in business for over 50 years. We are the leader in our industry and have worked with lots of companies like yours and have been able to meet the needs that you have”.

“Well, that’s why I agreed to meet with you, Jim. We do have a need for a product like yours and this might be a good fit” stated Bob Simmons.

“I’m glad you did” Jim said proudly. “Our product line has the best reputation for least failures on the job therefore downtime is at the lowest in the industry which will keep you up and running more efficiently”.

“Great Jim, but our service department isn’t sure if they can retrofit your model into our existing equipment”.

“Oh I wouldn’t worry about that we do it all of the time and with companies who have bigger problems then yours. As a matter of fact I brought a power-point presentation that I believe will help you understand why we’re number one in the industry”.

After the presentation, Mr. Simmons said, “Thanks for the presentation Jim but I am still a little concerned about our existing equipment and the retrofit we’ll need to do. We can’t afford any downtime with the change or production could be compromised”.

“Mr. Simmons, I understand that is a concern but we do this all of the time and don’t worry we can handle it.”

Fifteen minutes later Jim said goodbye to Mr. Simmons and promised him a proposal in a few days. After he left, Mr. Simmons buzzed his assistant and said when that proposal comes in just round file it.

What happened? Jim ignored the real issue that Mr. Simmons wanted addressed and kept telling him what he felt was important. Guess what? No one cares what you think is important, only as it applies to them. Jim missed lots of opportunity to really deeply understand what his prospects issues were and assure him that not only he could solve the problem but help Mr. Simmons understand how.

The result? Jim may very well have the best product for Mr. Simmons but he didn’t see it that way. When a prospect gives you a hint of a need address that need by asking really good pointed questions for example;

Tell me more about the retrofit concern?

Have you had that issue in the past in looking to change products?

What happened?

What did you do it address it at that time?

How did it effect production and at what cost?

These types of questions would not only have given Jim a real insight to the issue it would have also given Mr. Simmons confidence that Jim knew and could address HIS issue.

Quick wrap up;

  • Stop telling about how great you and your company are (no one cares)
  • Ask what some of their concerns are and then dig deeper to truly understand the issue
  • Don’t be so quick with a solution, even it if is correct, you haven’t earned the right so early in the process to give one.
  • Listening is you best sales tool, not your product knowledge

Like this? Want some short weekly tips??

 

Click here for a list of great questions to ask!!

 

 

 

Are you selling the book or the movie?

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I’m going to try my best to do a great benefits statement so the customers know exactly what we do.” We put so much time and energy into coming up with this big introduction/benefit statement, but, honestly, it’s not as important as any of the other things that we do.

This thought is on the mind of most salespeople. They feel that they have to have some great, two-sentence explanation of what they do, and that will help sell it.

Now, it is important to summarize what you do, but that is not what sells. Let me illustrate this point. Think about the last time you read a book, and then saw the movie. Which is typically better? Well, almost everyone I talk to says the book is better. Why is that?

When you read a book, you have the ability to create what the scene looks like, what the characters look like, even the voices and sounds therefore the story becomes yours. When you put something in your own brain, you are able to create what it looks like, and what it sounds like, and what it feels like to you. You attach more directly to the story because it becomes your interpretation of the events – as opposed to some producer and director’s interpretation. This is the same reason why telling someone what you do and the “features and benefits” of your product or service is much less powerful then asking great questions and getting them to see how it can help through their own eyes.

When you tell someone why they should work with you, what the benefits are, what the advantages are, those are your interpretations of the benefits or the advantages that you offer. When you ask really good questions to get people to think about what is important to them, it is their idea.

Ask if they had success in a particular area, or how you can change things. It is this kind of thought-provoking questions that allows a prospect to see the advantage, on their own, your product is supposed to bring. So, asking questions is really much more important than coming up with an important benefit statement.

There are a couple different types of questions. Big-picture questions are thought-provoking questions that get the customer talking about the overall situation. For example, talk about the goals they set for the organization, and where they are along the line of those goals. “Right now, it is (plug in the date) and if it were one year from today and you were to look back and say, it has been a very successful year, what would have to have happened?”

Another might be: “What are the things that you fear the most over the next 12 months, and what are you doing to avoid them?”

The key is to ask big-picture questions and get people to think. The successful questions ask people to think about the answer and put themselves in that place before they do. Big-picture questions are typically used at the beginning of the conversation to get a prospect to open up sooner. You listen to the answers carefully and move through the conversation successfully.

The second type of question are what I call advantage questions. They come directly from what you believe are the advantages of your product or service. For example, if you sell advertising in a very high-end magazine, you might say: “Talk to me about how you get in front of high-income individuals now.” Then a follow-up question like: “If you had the ability to get in front of more of them, what would you say?” Again it forces them to think about not only being in front of potential clients that they’re trying to get in front of, but it has them think about what the message would be. It begins to develop where you’re going to go with your recommendations or proposal in the end.

So, rather than you telling them what they can do with your product or service, this allows them to come up with their own picture of how they might use your product.

Remember, when you go to the movies, it is purely the director and the producer’s interpretation. When you read a book, it’s your interpretation of those words, and you have the ability to create your own picture. It’s much more effective when it’s yours.

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