Some new salespeople quit just before they’re about to achieve success. And they usually give up for one of seven reasons:
- They didn’t really want what they were going after in the first place.
- They thought success would come easier.
- They thought it would come sooner rather than later.
- They lost belief in themselves, their mission or their cause.
- They let someone else discourage them or talk them out of wanting it.
- They failed to realize that anything worthwhile takes time, patience and action.
- They don’t understand that no product is excellent in and of itself — it’s only excellent if it fulfills a customer’s need.
Selling in the technological age
Selling today is, in large measure, all about the relationship. Ironically, the salesperson is more valuable than ever before as far as cultivating and maintaining a relationship with the prospect. Buyers have become skeptics, and as such, their outlook is often uncertain and noncommittal.
There are ways to overcome that outlook, especially for the new salesperson.
Here are three of them:
- Sell the difference. Everyone talks about customer needs. It’s a phrase that’s thrown around as often as “selling value.” It’s thrown around so much, in fact, that many salespeople have become numb to it. They still spend the bulk of their presentations talking about their companies, their products and the reasons why deals must get done sooner rather than later. Customers are left scratching their heads wondering what any of that has to do with them.
- Know it’s not a one-person show. You hear people say it all the time: “He’s a born salesman.” They generally say this about people who’ve been blessed (or cursed) with the gift of gab. Nothing could be further from the truth. The best salespeople are superb listeners. Salespeople aren’t effective when they can talk someone’s ear off. They’re effective when they can uncover needs and provide solutions. Prospects are people too. They have needs and interests, and they want you to know what they are. And you should want to know. Most of your participation should be based on asking questions and taking notes while they do the talking.
- Make a connection. Prospects do business with people they feel comfortable with. The most effective way to connect is by asking questions that demonstrate the depth of your product knowledge while uncovering customer needs. Ask how they plan to use your product, and then follow up by quoting some specifics about their business that you discovered via your own research. Customers want to learn from you. Once you know their needs, educate them about the advantages of using your products and services. That’s what spurs a prospect to buy.
Old strategies alone don’t work
As technology and the struggle for product differentiation intensifies, you can no longer just rely on old strategies for sales success. Selling isn’t about learning clever sales techniques. And it’s not about becoming a better closer or memorizing the right words. That was yesterday.
Today, selling has to do with recognizing what’s happening with customers and finding ways to help them become more successful. It’s about winning customers who are eager to do business with you because you understand them and what they want to accomplish.
It wasn’t so long ago that customers and prospects actually welcomed salespeople. All it took to get an appointment was a telephone call. Schmoozing was in.
The old rules don’t usually work anymore. It’s often difficult to get to the decision-maker. Even if you break through the barriers, the decision-making process is so long that getting the order may take forever.
New salesperson, new ideas
If you want to get a selling career off to the right start, forget about what you want to sell and focus on what the customer wants to buy. The objective is to create a customer who’s convinced that it’s smart to do business with you.
Just as important is getting someone who has reasons for being your customer, for coming back again and again.
Here are eight ways to give yourself a selling advantage in today’s changing world:
- Let your customers and prospects know they need what you know. Today’s customers need sound advice on how to reduce costs, operate more efficiently, increase productivity, and service their own customers better.
- Share your knowledge. The people who buy from you need what you know, not just what you sell. Look for what knowledge you bring to your customers that tips the scales in your favor.
- Be more accessible. Prospects and customers work longer hours today to deal with a tight economy and intense competition. Maximum accessibility is the new reality and it counts for more and more in business. It’s not when you want to contact the customer that counts; it’s when the customer wants to contact you.
- Don’t waste the customer’s time. In today’s tight market, saving time is the customer’s highest priority and a salesperson’s most valuable asset. Show customers and prospects you understand their situation by being highly efficient.
- Improve your sales cycle management. Improved productivity is the key to increasing your sales. This requires careful and continuous follow-up with an increasing number of prospects and customers.
- Ask more questions. This is the most effective way to reveal the extent of your knowledge of the customer’s business. Thoughtful questions demonstrate that you know your industry.
- Create a buying environment. Try not to go into an appointment preoccupied with what you want to sell. Focus your attention totally on the customer and what you can learn. Customers usually pick up on salespeople who are only thinking of making the sale. When the customer feels secure and in control, the business is probably yours.
- Fight for your credibility. Closing the sale is no longer just a matter of being on great terms with the customer or overcoming objections. More than ever, it’s a matter of trust. Accurately weighing the pros and cons of your product or service for the customer creates confidence. Not trying to hide limitations and refusing to overstate benefits sends the message that a salesperson can be trusted.
Success starts with commitment
Salespeople who aren’t committed won’t be able to get prospects and customers committed either.
There are four basic commitments salespeople must have to be a success:
- You have to make a commitment to yourself. Selling is the process of educating prospects and customers about the value they’ll receive from purchasing your product or service. How you spend your time, how you educate your prospects, and how you develop your activities to reach your sales goals is largely left up to you. So the first commitment is always to yourself.
- You have to make a commitment to your job. This requires staying abreast of new developments, changing markets and declining economies. What helped you close sales in the past may not work today. Past success doesn’t guarantee future performance, especially during tough economic periods. By remaining committed and constantly striving for knowledge, you will be better prepared to meet customer needs.
- You have to be committed to your company. Committed salespeople find reasons to be enthusiastic about their companies, realizing that their futures are tied together.
- You have to be committed to your customers. Committed salespeople always try to deliver the very best to their customers. They are always available when problems develop and do everything in their power to act in their customers’ best interests.