Article Summary:Five tools that will help you control the sales process and advance your sales income.
To become a high achieving sales professional, you must first become an expert communicator. Ask any sales person if they would like to make $250,000 a year and they universally say "yes." But then look at the tool kit they use to pursue clients, and more than likely you will find that the sales tools are dull.
After 19 years of working with sales organizations in general, and high achieving sales professionals specifically, I've found that there are many tools that are prerequisite to advancing your income. These five that I will cover here are words and phrases that will create an environment with your prospect where they are telling you the truth. And since your most precious commodity is time, you can't afford to waste it with people who lie to you.
1. "What would you like to accomplish today?"
I get called on by many sales organizations (some of them household names) and rarely, if ever, does a sales person start a meeting with, "What would you like to accomplish today, Bill." This one question will save you hundreds of hours a year from working on things that don't matter. It's a way for the prospect to begin to share their problem with you. Just because the tool sounds simple, doesn't mean it's used.
2. "Is there any financial impact to this problem?"
I'm assuming that you're not giving away your solution for free. And that in fact, there is a price the customer pays to buy and a price the customer pays not to buy. I want to understand the difference. By asking this question, you will start to learn what the financial consequences are for "not buying." Then when you talk about your fee, the prospect will be comparing your fee to the cost of the problem. Sales amateurs will very rarely help the prospect make that connection. High achieving sales professionals deal with money more elegantly and eloquently. And this question will help you put money on the table without it just being about "your price."
3. "Let's do this."
Get advances if you can't close. "Lets do this" is a proven technique that allows you to talk about the next steps in the process while you move your prospect forward toward a final decision. Let's suppose you're an hour into the sales call and the prospect has shared with you some of the problems he has, but he's still unsure of your product or service's value. You want to go back to your office and study them prior to giving a proposal. In this case, you would say, "Let's do this. I'm going to go back and put some thought into this and then let's set a time we can come back in a week and take it a little further." The better process manager you are, the better sales person you are.
4. "Here's how we (I) typically work."
Use this on the very first call where you're laying out your process for getting them a solution. The high achiever needs to be thought of as an expert, not just in sales, but in the industry domain that you play in. Experts have processes and procedures. If you don't have a sales process, get one immediately.
5. "I have a sense that..."
The elite sales executive pays close attention to their feelings. The "gut instinct" is a powerful internal communication device for you. If something doesn't feel right, it probably isn't. If something does sound right, you've got to call it.
"I have a sense that..." are words in your sales professional toolbox that you can use to begin this conversation. I encourage my clients to use this if they are thirty minutes into the first call and the prospect hasn't shared any problems or pains that he wants to fix. You might say, "In the first thirty minutes of our discussion today I haven't heard anything that's really a compelling reason for you to change from your current source. I kind of get this sense that if things just continued on it wouldn't be all that bad."
Give the prospect an opportunity react. It's a way for the prospect to come back to you and either say yes, you're right and it's over (which is OK because as I said earlier, time is your most precious commodity, so move on) or he will convince you that he does have a problem worth exploring. And then, you will have control.
During his 19+ years of experience as a leader, experimenter and coach for hundreds of B2B sales teams, Bill Caskey doesn't blame prospects for how they treat most sales organizations - for not seeing their value, for treating them like servants, and for sucking up their expertise and taking it somewhere else and getting a lower price. Sales organizations play a part in this game too! Our sales behavior is the problem not our clients. Learn how to play the high-income seller's new rules at The Elite Seller Blog.