I have some extremely important sales tips for you

May 17, 2009
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You rarely use the sales tips you’re given, even though they’re obvious and may be better than the way you’re selling. Reason? You’re comfortable with moderate success, and you don’t want to chance losing what you have.

The classic example is my tip: Cold calling is a waste of time. You’re calling on people you don’t know, interrupting their day, manipulating your way in, and if you get through to an actual decision maker, odds are you’ll say the wrong thing anyway. “If I could just have a few minutes of your time, I can save you some money.” Pathetic.

First of all, real leaders don’t want to save money, they want to make a profit. Second of all, rejection 98 out of 100 times is depressing, demoralizing and degrading, not to mention that these calls give you a bad rap as a rep.

Remedy: Earn and generate referrals. It’s a much higher percentage sale, much more respected in its approach, and more likely to breed a relationship — and another referral.

Note well: Cold calls do work, just not that well: two or three out of 100. Referrals work 50 out of 100. Hello!

Seems obvious to me, yet cold calls persist.

So let me give you a few more pieces of sales gold. See which ones you can cash in on:

Sales tip: Never call on purchasing or procurement. Only talk to people who tell purchasing what to do. Thousands of salespeople start with someone in purchasing because it’s the easiest point of entry. All purchasing people want to do is cut costs and reduce vendor profits in the process.

Hint: CEOs tell purchasing agents what to do. Convince the big boss of your value, and the little boss in purchasing will follow his orders like a puppy.

Sales tip: Always leave a message. When salespeople ask me, “Should I leave a message?” the answer is always the same. “Yes!”

The main reason salespeople do not leave a message is fear that they will not get the call returned and/or that they have nothing of value to say. The reason they have nothing of value to say is that they are completely unprepared to engage the customer with anything of value. The reason that they’re unprepared is that they are unwilling to invest the time it takes to get ready.

Sales tip: Ask for the sale every time. Salespeople go through their presentation and the customer says, “Sounds great. Can you send me a proposal?” Salesperson says, “Yes” and leaves without asking for the sale. Happens every time.

Salespeople should walk in with a proposal. Salespeople should ask, “If the proposal is exactly what we discussed today, will you accept it?” And finally, if you, the salesperson, do leave saying OK to the proposal, never leave without a firm appointment for presenting the proposal in person and finalizing the deal.

Sales tip: Start your presentation with engaging, emotional questions, not a bunch of self-serving crap about you and your product. It’s likely your customer already has a pretty decent working knowledge about your product and your company. Your goal is not to educate. Your goal is to engage. And this is most easily done by asking emotion-based questions.

One emotion-based question I always ask is, “Where did you grow up?” This is a very emotional question. It immediately brings back thoughts of early childhood, siblings, parents, and hometowns. Oftentimes it’s different than the town you’re making a presentation in. Oftentimes it will reveal commonalities and similar interests. That one simple question will guide you to a beginning point of a relationship, and can easily be segued into brief customer history. (How did you get from there to here?)

Add questions like “What made you choose this career?” or “Why did you choose to get involved in this business?” If you feel comfortable enough to ask deeper questions like “What are you most proud of?” or “How did that event impact your success?” you can develop a solid rapport. Taking an interest in the other person is a key to them taking an interest in you.

Sales tip: Friendly beats professional every time. It’s always interesting to me to see the word “professional” when referring to salespeople or sales training. Maybe it’s just me, but I’d rather deal with a friendly person than a professional person, because I can get along with a friendly person; I can’t always get along with a professional person. And I want to like the people that I do business with.

There’s a subtlety. You can act professionally, but when you speak, it should always be in a friendly manner. Be conversational rather than contrived — to me friendly is conversational. Professional is contrived.

There’s a few tips you can use. Will you use them? You decide.

Jeffrey Gitomer can be reached at (704) 333-1112 or e-mail salesman@gitomer.com

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