One of the golden rules of selling is that people buy people first. We need to connect with our customers. The majority of us do it by finding common interests; sports, music, hobbies or being from a certain local area to the prospect tend to be amongst those interests more typically used. Occasionally though people connect by being a little unusual … and it can work tremendously well.
One such example I witnessed at first hand was one of my first sales managers, Harry. My first day on the road was a strange one. He met me on a hotel car park and I jumped in his car as he was driving for the day with me riding shot gun. On getting in I noticed he had a large cuddly rabbit on the back seat of his car and that comically the rabbit was wearing it’s seat belt, as if it was a passenger. The rabbit was approximately 1-1.2 metres tall (around 4 feet) and so the size of a 5-6 year old child. As I got in I commented on the rabbit and Harry told me it was his friend Harvey (so named after the classic film with James Stewart – My Friend Harvey about a man with an invisible rabbit as a best friend). He told me it was his daughter’s rabbit and the conversation progressed on to other things.
Posted in Building Rapport, Differentiating Yourself and Your Offer, Selling Parables, Stories From The Road
Tagged customers, different, differentiation, driving, feedback, interesting, questions, sales, sales manager, usp, USPs
Sometimes people in selling roles do the most incredible things. You only have to watch any episode of The Apprentice where ideas/products/services are being pitched and within a couple of minutes maximum you’re subjected to toe-curling cringe-worthy errors and ‘must not do’s from people who make claims that they are the best salespeople in their industry, country or in the world even!
Sometimes it is a case of people not knowing better, sometimes it is because the person is instructed to do something by managers who don’t know better; in lots of both cases though it is because too many people believe that selling is easy and is not a set of skills and disciplines that should be learned and honed. And the prospects and potential customers on the end of their approaches are subjected to some horror stories.
One of the best examples of this that I have ever been on the receiving end of is this real email which I received some time ago from a company that was interested in reselling our products/services. Whilst it is clearly a mass emailing from a company looking to find companies to represent, it must have been drafted and approved by people with no idea of what selling is, of what it means to build rapport or desire to do business in their prospects.
Posted in Being A Salesperson, Prospecting, Selling Parables
Tagged business, business development, customers, discipline, email, new business, pitching, Prospecting, selling skills, skills
Virtually every salesperson you’ll ever meet will tell you one of the most important things a salesperson has to do is to strike up a relationship with the customer. They invariably list it as one of their top pieces of advice to anyone thinking about a job selling. ‘People buy from people’ they’ll say reciting the old saying as if it were in their credo. In too many cases though they’re referring to having a relationship with a single contact, virtually ignoring the need for having multiple contacts in a bigger sale and/or an important customer account. They invest all of their time and effort in that single contact, oblivious to the fact that the bigger the sale is the more people that will be involved in making a purchasing decision.
There are a number of issues that can be dangerous about this approach including:
– the contact may not have decision making authority, at least they won’t usually have sole responsibility (despite what they may tell you or their job title may imply)
– there may be ‘office politics’ where they work and they could be outvoted on a product/service/supplier choice by people who don’t like that person (irrelevant of what they are voting on – it just happens because they don’t want to see that individual get their way)
Posted in Being A Salesperson, Building Rapport, Conducting Sales Visits, Managing Key Accounts, What It Takes To Succeed
Tagged account management, contact, decision making, key account management, key accounts, key customers, professional salesperson, rapport, relationships, risk, winning key customers
Anyone who has a deck of cards has at some time or other played Twist (also known as 21). In the game you are dealt two cards, add their totals and decide to ‘stick’ with what you’ve got or to ‘twist’ and take additional cards. The aim to get as close to 21 as you can (picture cards worth 10 and aces worth 1 or 11). The winner is the player with 21 or the nearest figure below it. Go above it and your hand is ‘bust’ (void).
Sometimes in sales it can be like playing Twist when dealing with a prospect who won’t give any clues where you are, especially when you are selling against a competitor. Having gone through the sales process and made your offer, you are looking to gain commitment, or at least understand how you are considered amongst potential suppliers. Suddenly your prospect stops talking to you, doesn’t answer your calls and generally leaves you feeling unsure of what is happening and what to do next.
Posted in Being A Salesperson, closing, Continuous Development, Questioning Skills, What It Takes To Succeed
Tagged 21, closing, communication, competition, competitor, deal, decision, decision making, feedback, gamble, gambling, information, offer, prospect, selling against the competition, stick, twist