Are you thinking of a career in selling? Maybe you’ve had some initial success at selling and are wondering if you could make it a full-time career. Or maybe you are completely new at selling and have no idea at all if you can do it. Or, you may have found a job as a salesperson but you are not having any luck while others seem to succeed naturally.
If you are any one of these people, then this book is for you. “How You Make The Sale” by Frank McNair shows that selling is a learnable skill, not something you are naturally born with. You don’t have to be a glib talker or a natural at selling to be a great salesperson. By providing the basic keys and insights to selling, this book can start you off on a successful selling career.
One of the main things that put people off from a career in selling is that they think it means you have to trick, cajole and generally talk people into buying things. This is the traditional, combative selling perspective. You see the customer as the combatant that you have to beat to make the sale.
You hear salespeople talk about tactics and strategy, about outflanking or pushing the customer into a corner, attacking his/her weakness, countering resistance, and defeating objections. You’ll even hear discussions about guerilla marketing. This is the perspective that views selling as warfare, where the customer is the enemy that has to lose for you to win.
But this kind of selling does not work in the long-term. You can’t stay in business where making sales means the buyer loses. Repeat/referral sales are the most profitable of all sales and they’re not going to happen if you think of the customer as the enemy.
But there is another way to sell. This is win-win selling – where you serve the customers by helping them make the best possible choice to solve the problem that took them into the market in the first place.
What Types Of Products Require A Professional Salesperson
More products are bought than sold. Chewing gum, toilet paper, detergent, toothpaste -- these are products that do not need to be sold by salespeople. They are marketed in television ads, but not by salespeople. This is because their sales price and dollar margin is too small to support the services of a professional salesperson. Also they are inexpensive and simple enough that customers don’t need a salesperson to help them make a choice.
Products that need to be sold by professional salespeople are products that:
Have relatively high market value (cars, real estate, insurance).
Occur relatively infrequently (you don’t buy a car every year)
Many of the decisions are moderately complex with a lot of considerations to factor in.
For most of these products, service and repair after the sale is a major consideration in the customer’s satisfaction with the product.
The monetary cost and inconvenience of a bad decision is high.
As a salesperson, how can you add value to the customer by selling with service? Here’s how:
Listen carefully to the customer to fully discern the customer’s wants and needs.
Clarify the customer’s wants and needs both for yourself, and the customer as well, meaning make him/her learn and refine what he/she really wants and needs.
Determine the problem the customer is trying to solve, so that you can solve the problem in the most appropriate manner.
Know your own (and your competitor’s) product lines so completely that you can select - from among the reasonable options – that product or service that best meets the customer’s needs and solves the customer’s problems.
Present the solution so the customer sees and appreciates its benefits and understands why this solution is best for his/her situation.
Help the customer complete the transaction in other ways: creative financing, advocating for the customer with management, arranging delivery, and so forth.
Follow-up after the sale to ensure that the customer is satisfied with his/her purchase, and to make any additional sales that would add additional value to the customer.
To be a good salesperson, you need to know about customer behavior. It is important to remember that:
People buy to solve a problem – these may be real or perceived problems
Many problems contain an unarticulated image component.
Customers don't really buy products, programs or services – they buy solutions to their problems.
The customer alone decides what the best solution is.
And because of this, the salesperson with the best solution to the problem gets to make the sale.
To help you come up with the best solution, here are the nine steps customers go through when they make a purchase.
How Buyers Decide To Buy The Path To Purchase Select Preferred Outlet and Salesperson Of all the places I have visited, is this the one I want to do business with? Step Nine Interview Potential Sales People Is this person credible with me? Do I trust them? Do we connect? Step Eight Contact or Visit Potential Sources What is the feel of this place? Is this a place I think I can do business? Step Seven Identify Potential Sources Who has the products that I need? Where are they located? Is proximity an issue? How about service after the sale? Among my circle of acquaintances, who has a recommendation that I might follow? Step Six Develop Purchase Criteria How much can I spend? When do I need to take delivery? What are other key purchase determinants that will drive this purchase? Step Five Identify Options That Fulfill Need What specific products will meet my need and solve my problem? Step Four Clarify Need Become more precise about what is needed and why. Step Three Gather Data What products are available? What do they do? Have other people met their needs and solved similar problems? Step Two Identify Need The need can be real or perceived (but all needs are real to the customer) Step One
How Does a Sale Unfold? The Sales Process Following Up for Ongoing Profitability How do I follow-up an ongoing profitable relationship? What other problems can I solve for this customer? Step Eight Closing: It's Okay to Ask For the Order How can I ask for the order in a way that is congruent with our collegial sales model? How do we finalize our commitments to each other in a professional way? Step Seven The Objective is Objections: Dealing with Resistance How do I respond when the customer objects to my presentation? How do I remember that “An objection is simply a request for more information? How do I circle back to Discovery to answer the additional facts I need to solve the customer's problem and make this sale. Step Six Making the Case/Presenting the Solution How do I present the solution to the customer's problem? How do I use a “trial close” to flush out objections so I can deal with them? Step Five Features and Benefits How do I prevent my product, program, or service in a way that I fully “bridge” from the features I have learned to the benefits that the customer cares about? Step Four Discovery How do I discover the problem(s) that drove the customer into the market? How do I uncover the key purchase criteria that will drive this sale? Step Three Meet and Greet How do I greet customers in a way that buyers see me as a credible colleague? How do I build rapport? How do I get customers to invite me into their problem-solving process? Step Two Research prior to the sale How does my product compare to my competitor’s? How do customer's use my product? What problem – real or perceived – does my product solve? Step One
In the language of selling, hot buttons are the product attributes that excite customers and energize them about buying your product, program or service. These are the sizzle that go with the steak, so to speak. Examples are:
--- for houses: neighborhood security, age of appliances, landscaping, proximity to good schools, heating systems.
--- for insurance policy: savings benefits for whole life insurance, comparative internal rate of return versus competitive policies, etc
Every product has multiple hot buttons – things that can excite the customer. As a salesperson, it is your challenge to know the general hot buttons for your product and the competition.
Sales interactions also contain landmines – a hidden piece of information that, when you stray across it, carries the danger that it might blow your sales opportunity away. Some landmines with customers you should be aware of are:
-- Previous bad experience with the company you represent
-- Previous bad experience with the product you represent
-- Previous bad experience with you
-- Unarticulated loyalty to a competitor’s product or service
--Commitment to buy from someone else
-- Embarrassing fact that the customer does not want to reveal
This means you have to build trust and rapport with the customer quickly. You can do this by:
telling the truth without shading it to advantage
listening carefully to the customer’s problem
questioning them closely to ensure you understand their problem and situation
respecting their desires, needs and constraints
educate the customer on facts they need to know to help them make an informed decision
partner with the customer – so that both the buyer and the seller get a solution that works for each of them
shape a solution that solves the customer’s problem within the constraints laid out by the customer
B. Build rapport
Rapport grows out of shared experiences, values, backgrounds and interests. But remember, you and the customer already have the most important commonality you could possible claim – the customer has a problem that your product, program or service might be able to solve. You are both interested in the deal because you can both benefit – they will find a solution to their problem, and you make a sale.
You Never Get a Second Chance To Make A Good Impression
Cold calling is picking up the phone to generate prospective customers. Cold calling is hard work – it has a high rejection rate and requires someone with thick skin and a well-developed sense of self-confidence.
But you need to remember that, once you have the prospective customer’s attention, the sales process is exactly the same as the type where the customer comes to you.
D. Dealing with schmucks
Whether you meet customers face-to-face or call them, you will always come across people who are nasty by nature. It’s difficult to deal with people like this. Here are several lessons that may be helpful:
Never say anything to a customer that you wouldn’t want to be repeated on the news.
Put it in writing – whatever it is – your and their agreements.
Keep management in the loop. Let your manager know as soon as you realize you’re dealing with a ‘schmuck’.
Refuse to sell them. If you’ve been dealing with the same schmuck for some time, tell them you can’t sell to them anymore as a last resort. You don’t need customers like this.
Don’t let it get you down. Move on after dealing with the ‘schmuck’. Don’t get stuck thinking about them.
You Never Get a Second Chance To Make A Good Impression
Restate the problem/s you and the customer have identified. Be sure to get the customer to agree with your problem list by asking for additions or amplifications.
Deal with each of the problems you have identified in turn, and make the case that your product or service offers the best solution for each of the problems
Always bridge from the features of your product to the benefits that matter to the customer and solve the customer’s problem.
As you make the case that you have solved a portion of the customer’s problem, repeat back anything you hear the customer saying about your solution. This will ensure you heard the customer correctly, and dealt with any concerns he/she might have.
Use tie-down questions to ensure that the customer agrees with each part of the solution as you make your case. The goal is to tie up all loose ends on one component of the sale before moving on to the next component
Use a trial close to gauge the customer’s receptivity to the overall case you have made, and to flush out any objections.
Objections can occur at any stage of the sales process. In fact, making the case can often cause objections to surface. But remember that an objection is almost always a request for more information. Customers usually object because they do not believe you have fully solved their problems.
So don’t panic when you hear an objection. Underlying the objection is a simple question: But can you solve this part of the problem? Listen to the objection, probe to fully understand it, respond professionally and in a problem-solving mode, and check back to see if you have addressed the objection.
If you get into trouble, probe. If you stay in trouble, call in a colleague.
If you work the sales process faithfully, closing is the easiest step. If you’ve done all the other steps well, all you need to ask at the close of the sale is: So, what do you think? If the customer is ready to buy, he/she will say: Sounds good to me.
If he/she is not ready to buy, the close will flush out an objection and you can circle back to deal with it by probing or other ways. Either way, the sale is moving forward. If you get in trouble or hear ‘no’ when you ask for the order, go back to Step Three: Discovery and probe the customer why he/she is not buying.
If a customer says yes, the sale doesn’t end there. While you may feel relief or euphoria, you still need to take care of your customer. Most probably, he/she may also be feeling relieved, or maybe a little anxious wondering if they made the right decision.
Make follow-up on existing customers a routine to ensure continuing profitability. Remember, follow-up can be the first step to making the next sale. The important thing here is, you have to keep your commitments. Under-promise and over-deliver. Think about what you are going to sell them next.
Write It Down
Make sure to put everything in writing – agreements, your commitments, the customer’s commitments, everything. Don’t assume you know what others are going to do. It doesn’t have to be a full-blown contract, but make sure you have a written record of the sale.
Don’t lead with price. Build value before talking price. Sell your solution thoroughly before you put a price on it.
Be sure any price comparisons are apples to apples. If a customer says he/she heard of a lower price somewhere else, check to make sure the two offers are identical in quantity, warranty, terms, delivery, quality of product, and other attributes.
Don’t apologize for your price. Your product is worth what it costs. If it’s higher, don’t call attention to it; the customer will notice on his/her own.
Make sure you call the customer back to the Total Value Proposition of buying your product. This includes the price, reputation of your product and company, terms and conditions of the sale, and the opportunity to do business with you.
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