Sales – Prepare to set ‘Sale’ or Prepare to Fail.
This week I have been running my Sales School here in Bath at the Co Working Hub. It is a terrific venue, really well laid out. Style wise, it reminds me of a mixture of Grange Hill and Mad Men blended together to create a kind of retro chic. The businesses that use the place are really quite brilliant, true entrepreneurs and I have had the privilege to train a number of them now at the Sales School.
This week, the focus was on effective questioning skills and this incorporated a section on question ourselves as Sales People prior to being in front of the client. In the years that I have been leading sals training I have always included this section as it really can make a huge difference. As Abraham Lincoln famously put it “If I had nine hours to chop down a tree, I would spend six sharpening the axe.” preparation is everything when it comes to selling.
I want to share with you, some ideas that you might like to consider before you pick up the phone to call a client or prior to a meeting. Let us start with the a little self examination!
Sales Person Preparation.
This is the time when you need to ensure you have all of your ducks in a row. Before phoning make sure you have notepad, pen, clients website open etc those types of thing, and before visiting add to this some consideration to what you look like. People make judgements and decisions in the first 30 seconds, so make sure shoes are clean, chaps clean and shiny please, ladies the same but check the heels for scuffs. Oh and for goodness sake if you are wearing new shoes take the bloody white sticker from the shop off of the bottom. It speaks volumes and not in a good way.
Think about what you are representing, what your business stands for, and how you can help your client make money, solve a problem or reach a goal with what you offer. Sometimes your call is a fact finding mission so think about what you are going to ask and how you are going to say it. Occasionally you may come upon a client who doesn’t have a ‘need’ specifically, but is looking for an opinion, or view point, so don’t be frightened to have one, and use it to establish credibility and build validity in your standpoint.
Ask yourself some questions that could potentially be going through the clients mind when they meet you.
- Why should I buy what you offer?
- Why should I buy what you offer from you?
- Why should I buy what you offer from you over the competition?
- Why should I buy what you offer from you over the competition right now?
See, it is the same question, but with a bit added on at the end. Funnily enough this is the same set of questions that should be asked of any advert that is placed too, because if the answers are present in the advert copy then the chance of response is heightened. You see it is about giving something purpose, reason and most importantly relevance, in this case, you.
Think about the client.
One of the most vital lessons to learn in sales is not to think about yourself, but to think like the buyer. What is going through their mind? What are their problems or goals? How do they make money? Why are they in business?
Look at their website, look at what they are currently focussed on, read their feedback, connect with them on social media. Make notes on it in a mind map format using a highlighter pens on key points. When you are sat in front of them, they will clearly see all of the preparation, and the highlighting in front of you, making them appreciate that you have done some homework on them, rather doing what many people do, which is to just rock up and hope for the best!
Prepare a list of questions, base them on the following, What do I already know? What don’t I know and need to establish? What am I going to say? and How am I going to say it?
Oh as an aside, here is a neat tip. When you visit a client, have a file with you that clearly has the name of the client’s business on it and the buyers name with whom you are meeting. Keep the file closed until you really need it, clients love to see their own name and their level of inquisitiveness will be raised by doing this and clearly demonstrates you have considered them before visiting.
Ok, back to other considerations. Ask yourself what the client may already know about you, especially when thinking about what is out in the public domain, not only about your business but you too. Think about what the client considers to be your strengths and weaknesses. Don’t be naive in thinking that your client hasn’t done any research on you either, so make sure you take this under advisement. Be honest too, especially when thinking about your own limitations, managing the client’s expectations is important, you do not want to over promise and under deliver!
Think about listening skills too. As Stephen Covey once said, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Be attentive, ask questions, and be interested. Genuinely interested, you do want the client to give you their money right? So listen up.
Take notes on what is being said to you, we know that people love to talk about themselves, imagine how they feel watching you writing down what they are saying too. Make sense?
By following these simple steps, you will find yourself in a better position to start a sales call or attend a sales meeting with a client. So whether you are in business selling research, personal training, law services, travel information, advertising solutions or even catering, prepare to set ‘sale’, and be the different, relevant customer focussed sales person you know you are.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. My blog is part of the Sales Persons Journey, a training program offered by SerialTrainer7. If you would like to find out more then use the contact form below or drop me, Simon, a line at firstname.lastname@example.org .