Smart sales people are always in control. Control of a meeting, the process steps, communications….every aspect of the sales process. You read about the attributes pertaining to “Confidence” in the first part. Control and Confidence feed into each other.
“ Most People do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply. “ – Stephen Covey
To be confident you must be well prepared – knowledge of the Client situation or/and your own solution features/benefits/values. To attain confidence remember to “practice”. Practice what you will say & listen for – discovering pain, gain, value propositions, your questions, how you visualise and run the meeting etc., That requires discipline and cadence to the sales process – consciously or unconsciously.
- A transactional sale moves fast enough and the unconscious mind has adopted the processes/cadence in the mind or/and on paper.
- In a complex solution sale it moves slow and the detailed understanding of the complex buying process and people means you have to collaborate and follow a disciplined cadence thru the entire lifecyle of the sale.
Meticulously plan, prepare, practice. Have the mojo and execute. It’s an artform !
For now, I will provide some tips on situational control. Those questions that will help you control a meeting /discussion. The art of being in control means knowing when to hand control to the prospect, take it back , pass it around, and finally summarise and close. Win-win. Never one sided.
Eg: Ask a “confirming” question – “does that make sense to you so far ? “ “Would you like it any other way, anything we missed” ? (passing control). Prospect says “Yes, sounds good” . you assume that is a cue for “whats next” (take control back)….Go on to describe next steps…
The power of confirmation/assumption enables you to keep control of the transaction. Think ahead towards the close and past the sale . Eg: “ Would you like this shipped before Christmas , does it matter ? or What regions will you need this for and quantities “. Another test – “ I need to check if I can ship any at all before Christmas , maybe it does not matter ?. This offer is valid until end of Quarter, would it matter? “
Creative & Consultative
Early in the cycle your prospect usually does not know what is needed. Hence price points are’nt clear. “Price” depends on the severity and urgency to resolve the underlying issue, and associated pain they go thru. Or the dream they want to realise.
You can sell an igloo to an eskimo given the relevant circumstances. Well if I could transact a single pack of pocket tissues (worth S$1) for S$ 50/-, anyone can, given the right circumstances.
“ …Happened at a bar on a Friday evening hangout with my team. A peddler (old man) comes in to sell hand tissues. Out of empathy I give him S$10/- and asked him to keep the change. Honest as he was, he dumped 10 packs on the table. In came a bunch of young accounting professionals from one of the big 5 firms. After some banter, he laughed me off saying I was easily duped. I retorted – “Hey given the right circumstance, I can sell it for double”. A few round of drinks, laughs and during the banter resurfacing the topic of the tissues ., etc time passed. He finally paid me S$ 50/- for a single pack !…and I got him to sign the note which I carry as a memento ! More over a drink … ”
It’s important to understand the environment and circumstance first, and then frame options.
Feel, Felt , Found method. Eg: Customer says – “ I need something simple , just enough performance” . You say – “ I understand how you feel. One of our largest Customers in North America,(any place of relevance) who you may well know as they are among the top 3 there, felt the same way you do. What I found is that a simple solution is great to start with like you do , and over time a path to grow without exhorbitant fees is important. Would you agree ? …This allows you to position your flexible architecture of the product, options …etc., open the conversation and get closure at stages.
Close & Collaborate.
The final mettle and one that spells success or failure in a sales professional is one’s ability to close . Close meetings, outcomes, deals ….anything. That is the end outcome. Always looking for a closure. Many struggle with this. That’s why you want to choose who to bring in at what stage of the sale. Those good at discovery, business development, may not be the best closers….usually are’nt.
Brian Tracy talks of 21 closing techniques . Here is a video that you can watch that summarises these techniques well. A key one that caught my attention the most –
Power of Yes (ascending close) – When you ask a series of six or more questions, to which the prospect says “Yes”, a normal prospect would nod and say “Yes” to the next one.
Phrase the questions creatively, with potentially the same benefit threaded from one to the next. Questions centered around benefits related to costs, budgets, revenues, productivity, business efficiency can be woven into 6 six similar, contextually relevant but different questions.
Every “Yes”, increases the buying desire. Every “No” decreases the buying desire as much as throwing cold water.
Are you budget constrained ? Would you like to gain productivity in your workforce ? Are you looking at opex reductions or control ? Your revenue growth is not commensurate with traffic growth ? Would you like reduced field dispatches ? …. Then the one you want a Yes to – How about I show you how we enable some of what matters to you, via a demo/workshop ? Confirmation close.
Closing a sale/transaction, should always end in a Win-Win situation.
On collaboration, I have a lot of respect and learn much from the Japanese style of management.
” One of the largest Telecom companies in Japan. A huge installed base for us over a decade. I had relationships with the Senior Executive. Our solution wasn’t mature and not proven in this case. The working group ranked us low. My team told me no point triggering top management if the working group isn’t in favour. I knew that was true from experience, but the passion and aggression got the better of me and I went ahead to exercise the connection, and went to the top. What turned out was a lesson in management. The Senior Executive called the head of his working group and arranged a meeting. Throughout the meeting he was quiet while the head of the working group cold shouldered me. Reading the body language I could tell there was no way we were going to make it. It took me a long time to rebuild the trust and regain credibility. We had some great follow on wins. All good now. ”
Collaboration within their work culture is the strongest anywhere in the world. That translates to Collaboration with the vendors to be come trusted partners/advisors.
Ask relevant questions; listen to understand; learn so you close and collaborate; love what you do and earn your seat at the table. Your voice matters. Always Win-Win collaboratively.
- Book : The Art of Closing the Sale – Brian Tracy. Great techniques for closing.
- Video : 21 techniques by Brian Tracy