Monday, June 7, 2010

Sales: 201

The first thing to remember, just to be a good sales executive, much less a great one, is that you must be committed to solving other people's problems. There really are only three reasons to buy anything; first to eat, unless you are a Freegan; second because your purchase will bring you some pleasure; or third, if you are in business, to solve some problem and/or grow your business. So in business-to- business selling you breathe to address number three.

Good sales people ask good questions to get the client to acknowledge what their problems are and then provide creative solutions. Great sales people recognize that clients are pretty much clueless as to what their real problems are, because if not they already would have been solved. So great sales people engage the customer in honest, sometimes brutally honest, partnering excursions to find pathways to success.

Buyers untimately come to respect, and trust, these well intentioned provocateurs. In fact, once the rough road to respect and trust has been successfully traveled, the great salesman is always the visitor of choice, and enjoys the generously offered referrals to other likely prospects.

Here's the challenging news. Just being honest and well intentioned gets you only so far. Making that case effectively is a whole other story because the deck is stacked against you as soon as you call for an appointment. Every good and not so good salesman before you has muddied the waters. The friendly "hello" when the phone line is answered, or the in-person cold caller enters the business establishment, is quickly replaced in tone by the cold, sometimes harsh follow up of "not interested" or any other number of favorite "beat its" employed by that particular prospect once your purpose is stated. Unless of course you are one of the great ones.

Sales 202: "Mr. Jones I'm calling because I believe I can considerably help you and need only fifteen minutes of your time,to confirm that? May I visit this afternoon or will tomorrow be better?" He answers "not interested!" And you say, "Mr. Jones, sometime today for one reason or another fifteen minutes of your time spent will serve no useful purpose in building upon your success. May I have that fifteen minutes? I mean well and have done some homework I'd like to share with you?"

The "Joneses" that say "no" to you with that approach, would have been short term clients anyway because they are too foolish to make a go of it.

Now you are visiting, either in person or on the phone and you have an immediate decision to make based upon whatever you've learned about the business you are calling on and the service you believe you have to offer. And here it is. If this prospect winds up saying "yes" will he have made a rational decision based upon the data and logic, or an irrational decision based up the dream you get him to buy into?
If you've prospected well, and you think about this question before the call, you will have a good feel for the answer.

Once you decide, you want to set the tone of the conversation right from the beginning in the mode that is compatible and leads to the "yes." So, assuming you believe this makes so much sense that a rational person, emotions laid aside, would have to see the benefit: Your first comment or question should be intellectual and data driven. Example: "Mr. Jones, the office of economic opportunity said in its May report that unemployment is actually dropping, but analysts are saying that that is because 18% of the unemployed have given up hope of being employed and thus are not counted. Being in the recruitment business do you agree with that."

You have now begun a non-emotional, rational based conversation. You are directing the play toward the desired result.

Or--You decide that the prevailing wisdom, fueled by all available data suggests that this a time for this recruiter to lay low and do what business may come his way by working hard and being frugal. Only a dollar and a dream (and you think your service reduces the odds way in his favor) would motivate any one in his field to invest today, so you need to foster an emotional (by definition then, irrational plane of conversation).

"Mr. Jones, I may be crazy but my impression is that the government could be doing a lot more low risk investing to drive up employment. What do you think?" We are now off to the races in 100,000 foot rhetoric and emotional talk. Exactly what you were looking for so you can sell "the dream."

Great Selling!

Love Your Work and Work Tirelessly
Communicate Honestly and Fearlessly
Serve Don't Sell
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