Recently, I asked a number of experienced salespeople: “What’s the biggest change you’ve noticed in selling over the years?” Most of them gave me a two-word answer – “the customer.” They told me that buyers today are more professional and better educated, that they’re bombarded by sales pitches on television and radio. Buyers have cultivated the habit of tuning out all sales presentations.
The sales professional can break through all of this resistance only by individualizing his presentation. Play to each customer as if that person is the first and last client you’ll ever sell to. Make that customer want to do business with you.
It’s a tough assignment. In fact, it’s one of the most difficult parts of selling. But I guarantee that these extra efforts will pay off big! To get started, here are four principles that you can use to create presentations that will impress every customer and reward you with more sales.
PRINCIPLE NUMBER ONE – PEOPLE BUY FROM SALESPEOPLE THEY TRUST
Psychologists have shown us how animals behave when their territory is invaded. Some run and hide, others make a lot of noise to scare off the invader, and still others turn and fight. Almost any animal, if he feels sufficiently threatened, will rise up to defend his territory.
People sometimes feel threatened, too. Some have emotional comfort zones and others have physical ones, but the result is always the same. Invade that comfort zone and tensions rise. That’s why everything the salesperson says and does will produce either tension or trust.
Unfortunately, some salespeople get all hyped up in a sales meeting and then go out and corner their first prospect. They back the customer into a corner, roll up their sleeves, knock down all objections and close, close, close! That’s far from building trust. It’s building walls.
I asked an old pro, “How do you know if you have built trust with a client?” He explained, “I’m sensitive to my customers. When they’re tense, I do something to ease the tension. And when they’re comfortable, I move in.”
Go slow, create trust, then move into your presentation.
PRINCIPLE NUMBER TWO – PEOPLE BUY FROM SALESPEOPLE THEY RESPECT
When something goes wrong with my car, I take it to a competent, well-qualified mechanic – someone whose professional skills I respect.
He’s expensive. But he has convinced me that he can always find the trouble and fix my car. He’s gained my respect. I also trust my banker, my attorney and my wife – but not to fix my car.
When you ask a busy executive for an appointment, that person asks himself a very important question. “Why should I spend my precious time listening to this person?” Only when they can answer, “This person has something to say that is important for me to hear” do you get that important appointment.
You listen to people you think will have something important to say. You look for signs of self-confidence and success. Well, that’s exactly how your prospects look at you.
If you look, act and talk like you have something to say that they need to hear, customers will give you the time to say it. Once you’ve got their attention:
1. Respect the prospect’s time – even if the prospect doesn’t. A salesman once spent three hours with a busy executive on the first visit. Then the prospect refused to see him again. Finally, the salesman asked why, and the executive said, “I have a tendency to talk too much with some people…and you’re one of them!” Don’t be abrupt or discourteous, but do be businesslike. Make your point and when you’re finished, leave.
2. Respect the prospect’s territory. Remember, you’re a guest so act like one. Ask permission to move around the room or come closer to show a brochure. If you invade the prospect’s space, you’re likely to get one of those “animal” reactions.
3. Respect the prospect’s intelligence. Sometimes you can gain entrance by trickery, but you won’t gain respect. Be straight with your prospects so you don’t have to worry about slipping up later.
PRINCIPLE NUMBER THREE – PEOPLE WANT TO MAKE THEIR OWN DECISIONS
Professional salespeople don’t try to impose their decisions on clients. They try to help them reach their own decisions. Their sales calls are client-oriented, rather than salesperson-oriented, they seek to discover needs rather than create needs; they discuss with their clients, rather than talk at them. They are adaptable and flexible. Harsh statement like, “You’re foolish if you don’t take this offer,” or “Take it or leave it” put the sale first. Ideas and suggestions, on the other hand, put the client first.
When the client makes a decision to buy, the pro reinforces that decision with positive comments. If the client decides not to buy, the top seller will try to resell the client by offering new information and suggesting alternative solutions. Your aim is to lead the client, not push the product.
PRINCIPLE NUMBER FOUR – PEOPLE BUY FROM SALESPEOPLE WHO UNDERSTAND THEM, THEIR NEEDS AND THEIR PROBLEMS
The secret to closing many sales is to help the customer discover the real need behind the expressed need. When a prospect says, “I don’t need life insurance,” saying “Everybody needs life insurance” isn’t the solution. It’s much more productive to help that customer explore needs that life insurance could meet.
You can’t move prospects from “I don’t need it” to “I’ll take it” by bombarding them with all of the wonderful features of your product. Instead, guide customers to discover how your product or service will meet needs – needs they might not even know they have.
When you help people discover what they want and how to get it through what you’re selling, your sales potential will zoom upward. Establish trust and respect, then sell clients based on their needs. When you play to the customer, you play to win.
Nido Qubein came to this country in 1966 speaking little or no English, with no connections, and even less money. In ten years, he had made his first million dollars, subsequently became president of The National Speakers Association, and is now president of his own consulting company. As an author and speaker, he is in constant demand. For more information call 919/899-3010 or write Creative Services, Inc., Box 6008, High Point, NC 27262
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