Three Ideas to Jump-Start Sales

By Heather Baldwin
Stuck in a rut? Need some ideas to jump-start your sales? Sometimes all it takes is an outside opinion. If you need a new perspective to motivate your sales team but don’t want the expense of hiring a consultant, check out Steve Chandler’s new book, The Joy of Selling (Robert D. Reed, 2005). Here Chandler offers 51 ideas for stimulating fantastic sales. Include one a week at your Monday morning sales meetings and you’ve got a year’s worth of new ideas. Here are three of them.
1. Sell like the Grateful Dead. Most rock bands strictly prohibit recording at their concerts, fearing that fans who record their live music will buy less of it at the store. Not the Grateful Dead. They encouraged concert goers to record their performances and set up special areas to make the recording process easier. The result? Fans shared the music of the Grateful Dead with their friends, who shared it with their friends, who all turned out in droves to buy any new album released by the group. Do the same in sales, says Chandler. “Rather than make your prospects merely imagine your product or your service, let them experience it,” he says. “Give them some of it! Get them hooked on it!”
When Chandler was in the advertising business, he often found himself in a showdown with two other agencies. The competitors would work up elaborate presentations to show off their work. Chandler, on the other hand, wanted the prospect to experience what it was like to work with his agency. During his allotted presentation time he would pass around index cards and ask every member of the audience to write down a current problem with their advertising. Chandler then tackled one card at a time, working with his staff at a white board to discuss, write and draw solutions to the problem. The clients talked about and debated the problems with them. In doing so, they walked away with valuable ideas and an understanding of what it would be like to work with Chandler’s agency. More often than not, Chandler won the business. “Think in terms of giving, not getting,” he says. “When you are always thinking – What else could I give them? – you will be gaining miles on your competitor.”
2. Quit trying. Get the word try out of your vocabulary – it’s too vague and gives you an easy out for not reaching your goals. If you tell yourself you’re going to make five cold calls before lunch, you’ll do it. If you tell yourself that you’re going to try to make some calls, you’ll likely come up with any number of reasons why you didn’t get them done or why one call was fine. When we tell ourselves we’ll try to do something, says Chandler, instead of commanding our brains we’re simply stating a wish for a hoped-for effort. On the other hand, when we issue a specific command – such as five calls before lunch – we are stating a strong instruction, an irrevocable order. Next time you find yourself thinking you’ll try to get something done, change your thinking. Make it an order and get it done.

3. Ask more innocent questions. If you’ve been in sales for any length of time you’ve attended sales training courses where you’ve been taught questioning techniques for closing the sale or qualifying prospects. Forget all that, says Chandler. Instead, he says, ask questions that reflect curiosity and a genuine desire to serve. Your questions should be simple, innocent, courteous and respectful. “You won’t lose any opportunities that way,” he says. So instead of painting prospects into a corner, ask them questions such as: Do you feel that you’re ready to make your decision right now? Is there more you would like me to do to help you think about this offer? Techniques and scripts don’t take into account how different people are, says Chandler. So be gentle and inquisitive and you’ll come across as sincere, trustworthy – and someone with whom the prospect wants to do business.