Everyone in sales dreads hearing the following from a customer: “I’ll review this with my boss. I know he’ll go ahead and place an order.” We dread it because we know the sale is very likely going to die. The good intentions of your contact are just not enough. When the boss says “This is very expensive” your contact will not have enough information to overcome this objection.
The best solution is for you to present it to the boss, but this usually won’t happen. Senior people are insulated deep within their organizations and don’t have the time or desire to meet with you. They rely on others for information.
So, back to your initial contact. It’s time to make them into one of your salespeople.
- Start by understanding your contact’s mind-set. They are certain that if they merely tell the boss to buy it, he will jump at the chance. Mostly, this isn’t the case.
- Urge your contact to invest a few minutes with you, learning key selling points about your product. Do this carefully. Remember, they think they know all of this already.
- Get agreement from the contact that your product would be beneficial to their company. Review the benefits with them. Recommend that they write them down, and have them handy when they meet with the boss “just in case.”
- Go over what to say in case the boss raises price objections. Engage your contact in this discussion; don’t just direct them.
- Compare your product with what they are currently using. Is it faster, sharper, more accurate, longer-lasting, etc.? Have your contact write these comparisons down as well.
There’s no guarantee that coaching your contact will lead to an order. However, if you don’t coach them, you definitely reduce your probability of success and your sales rate.
Not all customers are the same. I learned that lesson years ago when I was just beginning to sell. Actually, I didn’t learn it right away. I understood the concept intellectually, but it was several years before I learned it on a practical level.
It sounds simple, doesn’t it? The trick is to internalize it so that it becomes second nature. It is all about adapting to other people’s preferences. Many times, this is referred to as adapting to a person’s “style.” This ability to adapt is the sign of a skilled, professional salesperson.
Here are some examples of customer styles:
- RESULTS: This customer wants it now. They value taking action, and welcome risks and challenges.
- RELATIONSHIPS: This customer is friendly and enthusiastic and values learning about you.
- HARMONY: This customer likes stability, process, and knowing how something is going to work.
- ACCURACY: This customer wants it done precisely. They like evidence and testimonials.
The most successful salespeople are those who can identify another person’s style, and then adapt to it. In effect, they are speaking the other person’s language. When you are selling, it is always about adapting to the customer. It is never about waiting for them to adapt to you.
A reluctant salesperson. It sounds contradictory, doesn’t it? We have this image of assertive men and women, boldly going to visit prospects and customers. Asking strong, insightful questions, and listening closely to the answers. But think back on your experiences as a customer. How many times have you stood in a store waiting to be helped, when you can see salespeople gathered and chatting among themselves?
This has happened to me many times, and I always chalked it up to rude or indifferent attitudes of the salespeople. Then I came across some startling research from Dallas-based Behavioral Sciences Research Press:
- The authors examined the customer engagement behavior of 1,160 retail salespeople in the U.S. The researchers investigated how many times the retail salespeople initiated conversation with “walk-in” prospective buyers during one work week. Results? Less than 44% of the salespeople engaged prospective walk-in customers.
- They also recently studied 199,000 salespeople scattered across companies, industries and sales settings, researching salespeople who don’t want to talk to anyone. Results? 19.6% of currently employed salesmen and 16.6% of saleswomen say they are uncomfortable starting conversations with people they don’t know. Remember, these are people in sales.
At least now I can understand, if not accept, the mistreatment I am receiving. There is a real opportunity here for anyone in sales. Engage your prospects and customers in conversation. It sounds easy and obvious, but many of your competitors are not doing it.
So go ahead. Try it. Start up a conversation with a new customer. Speak with passion about what you sell. I think you’ll be pleased and surprised with the results.
Getting an appointment with a prospect is a big deal. It can be an anxiety-producing, nervous-making process. But, you got the appointment, so congratulate yourself on a job well done! Now, it’s time to plan your sales call.
First, let’s acknowledge that you are probably a little bit nervous about meeting this person. Just keep in mind, the prospect said yes to meeting you because of something you said or something you offer. It’s important to remember that you are welcome. This should help a little bit with your nerves.
Next, learn all you can about the prospect and their company. Examine their business. Learn about their customers and their competitors. What are their recent business successes and challenges?
Next, be clear what you want to accomplish in this meeting. Write it down and have it clearly in mind when you are with your prospect.
Lastly, how will your product or service help your prospect? Will it make them more profitable? More efficient? More productive? The answers to these questions are the foundation of your presentation to your prospect.