Sales Success – In 2 Easy Steps
It is said that most concepts in life can be broken down into two simple steps.
For example, the two steps to boxing is:
1) Hit, and
2) Avoid getting hit.
Of course there is a lot to know about boxing. But if you just concentrate on those two things, then it doesn’t seem like a bad way to start.
I’m not a boxer – I’m in the sales profession. I sell, and I train other people to sell. I began to wonder whether sales can be similarly broken down into two simple steps.
But sales is too complicated to be broken into two steps, right?
Sometimes selling as a function seems overly complicated – all the ideas, the theory, the whizz-bangery. A simple search in the books section on Amazon reveals over 18,000 books categorised as sales, or with “sales” in the title.
Yet, sales doesn’t have to be complicated. It is in fact simple – when you get the basics right.
From there it’s simply a matter of doing those two basics better than anyone else.
If I had to choose only two steps to sales, here they are:
1) Gather valuable information
2) Solve a problem
If you do those two things better than anyone else on the prospect’s radar, you will probably win the business.
Let’s have a closer look at how you go about doing this:
1. Gather valuable information
There are two types of information you can gather on a client:
- a. Information in the public domain
Sales peak performers will take the time to research key facts about a company that will help them to understand what the company is up to. The main areas of a website we recommend are company reports (if a public company – particularly the exec summary at the front); the about us page; a blog if they have one and most importantly their people page.
Oh – and company reports will give you loads of information too!
If you can get an understanding of the person you are about to call (try googling their name) then that is the best information you can get.
You might even find your dad is at the same rowing club! Don’t forget Dale Carnegie’s famous words “There is no sound as sweet to another person as their own name.”
- b. Information not in the public domain
While public domain information is useful, its use is diminished by the fact that your competitors will also have access to it. A better way to gather information is via strategic questioning skills. Questioning skills are simply the most important skill a sales person can have.
What do you think of someone who asks you a stupid question? (No need to answer that out loud). Now what do you think of someone who asks you a professional, intelligent question?
Society rates very highly people who are able to ask intelligent questions. Look to the world of entertainment (Michael Parkinson/Oprah Winfrey), journalism (Jeremy Paxman/Barbara Walters) and psychology if you are in any doubt about the value we place on those who can ask a smart question or two.
The better we can get at asking professional, credible questions the more prospective clients will value us, appreciate that we are not calling from a call centre and give us their time more readily.
In order to build your skills, try some training – all of our sales workshops have a strong questioning focus.
2. Solve a problem
We all have business problems. Here are mine: I need to put up some pictures in the office but our groundskeeper won’t pick up the phone, I need at least one more dedicated telesales person and can’t afford the time to interview, I need to completely re-write our website but can’t find the time to write a good brief to give an web designer; and I find it hard to find the time to keep my blog up to date.
You have your own problems. So do your prospects. Everyone does.
The key to selling (after you have gathered the right information) is to solve problems.
This means articulating the solution in exact terms that are going to thrill (not just mildly please) the prospect. It also means focusing just on their specific problem, and not talking about all the other wonderful ways you can help them one day in the future (prospects don’t like that, they want to go on a date before getting married).
Steps to solving a problem:
1. Recap in strong, spoken words their situation. Paraphrase if you want, but try not to lose meaning, or twist things your way. This shows great active listening skills.
2. Focusing just on their one single problem work out the best way to solve it using your resources. If you can’t, source another supplier who can. It will only take 10 minutes but your prospect will love you for it.
3. Present your solution to them without waffling. Don’t confuse the sale like so many sales people do every day. Your prospect doesn’t necessarily need to hear how global you are, or your wonderful account management model. Your job is to clear paths and make it simple to say “yes”. Tip: If there are more than 3 things for them to do to get to “yes” then you need to simplify it. Many sales can be lost because of the complicated closing process – make it easy!
Again we run workshops that help with this. Our spoken presentation skills workshops are all about focusing on your key messages and articulating them to the client with the aim of great clarity and creating understanding.
Sales doesn’t have to be complicated. You will absolutely make more sales if you focus on being the best you can be at gathering information and solving problems.
Continually working on these basic yet crucial two steps will ensure a brilliant selling career.
Call me if you would like to help you or your team to become more successful at these crucial two steps in sales.
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