Over the years I have been asked countless questions, from what seems to be as many salespeople, some good, others who were thorough professionals, and still others that I felt somewhat inferior to be in their presence. Of all of the questions I have been asked to answer over that time is,
“What can I do to ensure that every call I make becomes the one that didn’t get away?”
There are possibly countless ways this question can be answered, but I suppose I’ve now had decades to think this through I generally try and keep to a similar format every time I answer it – generally the answer is something like this.
Qualify the Prospect
This has to be the priority by which you do everything in sales. If the buyer is not at least partially qualified, then you are shooting blind, and shooting blind is not selling. Even after you’ve qualified the needs, wants and that your product or service is affordable, don’t just rush in and start presenting.
On the other hand, if this call is with someone that has not bought a similar product to what you are selling you will still need qualify, ask related questions and learn what the prospect feels he or she wants and/or needs.
No matter what you sell, the majority of sales are made by determined persistence.
Doctor Herbert True from the Notre Dame University in the USA, spent over 10 years analysing what makes a person a success in selling, is on record stating that statistically 60% of all sales were made after the fifth attempt. His report also states that nearly 50% of those selling asked for the order just once and then quit.
Brian Tracy suggests that the top 20% of salespeople earn 16 times that of bottom 80%.
Johnathan Evetts, author of the Seven Pillars of Success says that at least 60% of all sales are made only after the sales presentation has been firmly rejected at least four times.
Then the late Zig Ziglar stated that over 90% do not ask for the order more than four times and 60% of all sales are written on the fifth and subsequent attempt. He then went on to say that 4% of the salesforce is making 60% of all sales – and 60% of the commissions.
It’s the persistence of the seller that gets the sale, and seller has to stay there even while the prospect is rejecting everything you say or do. Other times, with less mature sellers, multiple sales calls may be necessary to sell to a customer. Do not be a part of the too many sellers that give up too early – and therefore miss the chance to make the sale… even if they call back.
Know When it’s Time to Stay or When it’s Time to Move On
You have now made the sale you need to be around to nurture your customer, work on building a relationship and be there for more sales and referrals. On the other hand, if you didn’t make the sale, tag your prospect for an immediate follow-up and then on call-backs on a regular basis – and do this on a regular basis until you know there is nothing there, or you sell to them and then follow up on a regular basis for more sales and referrals.
Either way, you can’t afford to waste time wallowing over the occasional successful sale, and you can’t waste time trying to sell to prospects who never buy. My advice here is work out as quickly as you can where you stand and know when it’s time to move on.
Differentiate Your Uniqueness
We all know that we are different to everybody else. In fact, we are different to every one from the time we are born. We look different; our fingerprints and footprints are different; we have a different voiceprint; and on the list goes. Yet I constantly meet salespeople who believe that they can achieve a lot in sales if they mimic others.
Mimicking at best can flatter another, and even if you learn your presentation word-perfect by rote rendition, that presentation will still be different because you present differently and always will. Then when you make contact with a prospect, your prospect doesn’t differentiate that you are different to other salespeople – to your prospect we are all the same. It’s for the same reason that you need to differentiate how you and your products or services are different from the rest. What is that makes you better than your competitors?
In the eye’s of the prospect, the one thing that will shape how vital you are to his or her business, is when they appreciate the difference between you and others. So what will shape your success is how you deliver a personal touch. The most important factor here is you. But knowing and passing on to others what makes you unique, allows you to differentiate how and what you sell, and when that is made clear to others, you will sell that much more effectively.
Form Relationships as a Priority
Far too often we have been told to build relationships with our existing customers, and then turn those relationships into partnerships. However, in today’s selling mindset, all the seller needs to do is to provide enough value in what you do and the way you do it so that your customers really appreciate doing business with you. That is more likely to create lasting sales success and a few genuine friends along the way: Maybe it’s time to take a different approach to the way you form relationships with others: Maybe we need to start to seriously analyse our focus on our sales thinking so we can identify why we’re not making volume of sales we want to. Here are a few things that I have changed over the years.
• The first thing I have replaced is before I start any formal presentation I have replaced my preamble with general chit-chat. In other words, I simply start a conversation.
• Next I would make it my business to discover whether my potential client and my company are a good fit and then work on the best ways of doing that. That way the product or service are presented to suit what the prospect already has and how we can better untelise this rather than starting from scratch. But then if we do have to start from scratch, a good deal of trust towards me and my company has been built by the prospect.
The Most Important Person on This Earth
America’s motivational father, Earl Nightingale, used to say,
• “If you want to be successful, treat every person you come into contact with as the most important person on earth.”
Modern-day American motivator, Zig Ziglar says,
• “No-one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.”
True professionals, and those who understand this one point, focus all their energy, attention and care on the person they’re with. They’ve learned to take themselves out of the equation and give others unbelievable attention without any hint of ulterior motives or manipulation.
Most also know we respond favourably to those that make us feel special in their presence. They also know that to the people who go out of their way to make us feel extremely important, we will give them our respect, our friendship, our knowledge and our business – and we will do it for life – or as long as they keep making us feel extremely important.