Technology has grown by leaps and bounds, but the ‘art’ of selling has become clouded as savvy sales teams feel the daily pressure to close deals. Because advances in the internet have made communicating so convenient, many with sales responsibility are not practicing basic rules of engagement, building core relationships or courting the sales prospect.
The advances of today have even started a misnomer that a potential lead is only worth speaking with if they are ready to buy. But what about the 99% of them who are waiting for someone to just sell them on why they should buy? Let’s face it, you may have become an order taker for that matter. You don’t start selling until they say “No”- the real test of a true salesperson. Much of what I and many others learned about selling was derived from “Glengarry Glen Ross“, the Pulitzer Prize-winning 1984 David Mamet classic drama about ruthless real estate salesmen.
In the end, we all work to steal the customer from the competitor – plain and simple. So let’s review a few tips that will help any sales professional stop taking orders and start selling.
1. Make connections. Stop running through the daily doldrums of lists and expectations. Manage and nurture your business relationships. Have you picked up the phone and made a call this week? Rest assured your lead generation consultants have sent all the emails you will ever need to send, so pick up the phone and make those personal connections after you receive a lead. Your contacts are warmed up and ready to hear more about the specifics of what you offer.
2. Offer value. Dig deep inside your company and develop relationships with key clinical, research, development, marketing and executive staff. By sharing information, via a weekly/monthly phone call or meeting, you will be armed with key information that will support your sales efforts. You may just find a golden nugget of information in those coffee talks that could be instrumental in making your next sale.
3. Differentiate yourself. Stand out in the pack of sales people. Tell your potential business partner why you have something to offer him or her that is better than the competition. Do your research and point out your company’s benefits – i.e. cost savings, expertise, reputation, access to larger networks and faster timelines. It’s the quality of the content that counts, not the size of your pitch. Narrow down your benefits to strengthen your cause. As a sales rep at Perot Systems Corporation, Ross Perot always reminded us to look straight in the customer’s eye, and when meeting with them to imagine yourself under the hood of their car, exploring the problems that lie beneath and helping them to navigate through issues and solutions.
4. Move the sale along. Create agendas and guide your prospects through conversations and correspondence. Make sure that you have touched all the influential buyers in the sale encouraged by strategic selling author Miller Heiman. Persistence, persistence, persistence is key to sales success. “Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.” – Calvin Coolidge. Also ensure you know where each of the buyers stands regarding their readiness.
5. Close the sale. Let’s cut to the chase, both parties know why you’re having the conversation at-hand. So let’s hear it, why should he or she invest in the relationship and the services/products you offer? This answer should be simple and direct. Respond with confidence and offer suggestions on how to get started right away. Once you get the sale, shut it off. Your hard work behind the scenes, preparing and researching for the in-person pitch has paid off.