- There is no “one best way” to make a sale. There is no magic formula.
- Only hard work will earn a sale.
- To succeed, you must establish achievable goals.
- To combat the fear of failure or rejection, savor the memory of past successes.
- Avoid cold calls by offering value up front and tempting prospects to contact you.
- Ask questions that make you look smarter, different, more tuned-in and better informed than your competition.
- The price can only be too high if the customer does not perceive the value of what you are selling.
- The biggest mistake salespeople make is to blame the client, the product, the competition or the weather when they lose a sale. Be accountable.
- Use “testimonial-based selling” to eliminate the buyer’s concern about risk.
- To excel in sales you must love what you do, and do it wholeheartedly and honestly.
The Sales Biz
Being a sales professional is like running your own business, even when you work for someone else. How well you master the answers to the following common sales questions will determine how much your business will prosper – if you are willing to work hard, practice and learn how to tailor these answers to fit your selling situation and your personality. You have the power to succeed. Just take the following advice. The top “99.5 sales questions” include:
“What’s the best way to make a sale?”
There is no “one best way” to make a sale. But take these hints for a solid beginning. Be friendly. Discover something in common with your prospect. Ask intelligent questions and listen carefully to the answers. Strive to understand the prospect’s needs and concerns. Be relaxed, not pushy. Ask for a commitment only after you have made a proposal that is risk-free for the client.
“What is the meaning of sales?”
Don’t expect a magic formula. Making sales really boils down to how hard you are willing to work. Given that, the closest thing to having a magic formula is being well-prepared. Engage each customer in a way that helps him or her become comfortable enough to buy from you. Then, ask for a commitment.
“No ultra-successful salesperson becomes ultra-successful without ultra-hard work.”
After you earn the sale, keep working hard to earn the reorder, referrals and a testimonial. Practice your sales skills until they become second nature.
“How do I become…successful?”
Success requires establishing achievable goals. A goal is “a dream – with a plan and a deadline.” Write a list of your goals that is as specific as possible. Set a time frame and list any obstacles that might stand in your way. Next, list the organizations or people you need to work with to meet your goals. Catalogue your current skills and target the knowledge you must obtain to make your goals a reality. Create an action plan and, finally, determine what actions you need to take every day to achieve your goals.
“How do I do my best every day?”
To function at your best on a daily basis, you should:
- “Wake up early.”
- “Love what you do.”
- “Dedicate yourself to being a life-long student.”
- “Convert anger to resolve.”
- “Convert barrier to breakthrough.”
- “Take every ’no’ as ’not yet’.”
- “Watch little or no television.”
- “Read for 20 minutes every morning.”
- “Write for 20 minutes every morning.”
- “Call people you love – and tell them you love them.”
- “Tell yourself you’re the best.”
“What causes my fear of failure?” and “How do I get over…rejection?”
Psychologically, fearing failure and rejection is a common apprehension, often based on past experiences. Fight back by substituting a positive feeling for a negative feeling. For instance, when you experience nervousness, replace it with positive anticipation. Combat your fear of failure or rejection by dwelling on your accomplishments. Savor your memories of times when you excelled. When you know you are a winner, you can act like a winner.
“How do I make a cold call?”
The purpose of a cold call – either in person or on the phone – is not to make a sale; it is to make an appointment. When you deal with assistants, gatekeepers or voice mail, leave a message that will elicit a response by saying, “Hi, my name is…and I’d like to talk with you about a business issue of a personal nature.” The secret to cold calling is to be prepared and to engage the recipient by asking an enticing question. For example, if you are selling cell phones, ask if the prospect knows “three ways to make money with your cell phone?”
“How can I stop making cold calls and still make appointments?”
Tempting prospects to call you is better than making cold calls. Create that temptation by delivering value up front. You can circumvent the cold call by building a strong reputation. Find forums where potential clients can get to know you. Consider writing an article for a trade magazine, giving a speech, holding a free seminar about a relevant topic, networking at business functions, or being a guest “expert” on a television or radio talk show. Ask satisfied clients for referrals; a good referral is always better than a cold call.
How can I “get information on a prospect before a sales appointment?”
With the advent of the Internet, you no longer have any excuse for arriving at an appointment unprepared. Research your prospects and their companies by visiting their corporate Web sites. Search for their names and companies on the Web to pick up additional data. For example, visit the Business Journal’s online archives. Prospects will appreciate your extra effort.
“What…am I asking my prospects…that my competition isn’t asking?”
Salespeople often ask fairly familiar questions, such as, “What are you looking for in a…?” or “What do I have to do to get you into a…?” However, you will get more sales by asking questions that differentiate you from your competition. Select questions that make you look smarter, more tuned-in and better informed than everyone else. To determine what questions to ask, put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Ask questions that draw on his or her emotions, such as, “Where is the first place you will drive in your new car?” Probe your prospect’s knowledge, experience and opinions. List potential questions and identify the strongest.
“How do I get around the price objection?”
When people ask for the price of a product or service, they are indicating an interest in making the purchase. When they object that the price is too high, they are still sending you a buying signal. The price is too high only if the customer does not perceive the product’s value. Ask questions that draw out the prospect’s needs and desires. Help him or her connect with the value you offer. Be pleased with your prices and stand firm.
“How can I prevent objections?”
Cut problems off at the pass by anticipating objections and dealing with them in your presentation. After you have been in sales a short time, you will be able to anticipate the top 10 objections. Create a great response for each one and raise the problem yourself before your client does. Testimonials are the best way to combat an objection.
“What is the best time and the best way to ask for the sale?”
Pay close attention to your customer’s buying signals. When the customer seems to indicate that the time is right, don’t be afraid to ask. If the prospect says “no,” you should mentally hear “not yet.” Sometimes, the real objections come to the surface only when you ask for the order. This presents a great opportunity to address previously unstated concerns. Your questions might include, “Is there anything right now that is keeping you from doing business with my company?” and “If it wasn’t for…(cite the objection here), would you be comfortable moving forward?” Lastly, ask for the order in a sincere, relaxed manner. Leave the pushy sales methods to snake oil salesmen.
“What is the best way to…get a reorder?”
If you’ve worked in sales more than a week, you already have heard the adage, “It’s easier to sell to an existing client than to develop a new one.” The reorder puts this theory into practice. Begin working on getting a reorder the minute you get your first order. Great service is the best method for keeping customers over the long term. Make sure you can deliver your product on time as promised. Follow up on service and satisfaction. Promptly resolve any issues that arise. Remain accessible and in contact with your new client.
“What are the fatal flaws of selling?”
The biggest mistake salespeople commit is shirking personal accountability. If you lose a sale, don’t blame the client, your product, the competition or the rain. Instead, examine yourself and discover why you lost the sale. That is the way to prevent it from happening again. Other common sales mistakes include:
- Pitching your product before you ask the prospect qualifying questions.
- Bashing your competitors.
- Failing to put things in writing.
“What is the best way to use testimonials?”
“Testimonial-based selling” is the best. Create a video or DVD to show clients that includes testimonials about every aspect of your sales cycle. Let satisfied customers tell your prospects that they like you, respect you, are happy with your product and receive good service. Testimonials are the best vehicle for easing your potential clients’ concerns about risk. People are going to talk about you. Make certain you like what they are saying. More importantly, use what they say to help make your next sale. The only way to get a testimonial is to earn it, deserve it and ask for it.
“How do I get more referrals?”
Do not ask for a referral right after you close a deal. You have not given yourself enough time to earn the right to request a referral. You earn this right by giving your new client a wonderful experience with you, your product and your company. However, “the best way to get referrals is to give them first.” That’s right. Whenever possible, use your network and contacts to send potential business to your prospects.
“What are the secrets of networking success?”
Use these tips at any networking session:
- Arrive early.
- Have an enthusiastic, positive attitude.
- Don’t just talk to your friends; you won’t meet new people that way.
- Develop a firm handshake and a ready smile.
- Have your engaging “30-second commercial” prepared so you can deliver it naturally.
- Eat moderately and don’t drink alcohol.
- Be the last one to leave so you can use every minute to make new contacts.
“How easy is it to do business with me?”
The biggest impediment to doing business is automated phone systems. Everyone hates them, but almost every company uses them. For a salesperson, this can mean lost opportunities and lost revenue. Would you want to conduct business with yourself? If you answer “no,” you have work to do. Take the following steps to make it easy to do business with you:
- “Be available to sell when I need to buy.” Make it possible to place an order through your Web site any time, day or night.
- “Have live human beings answer the phone.”
- “Hire friendly people.” Friendliness is an important aspect of selling.
- “Take advantage of leading-edge technology.”
- “Identify the reasons your customers are leaving and fix them.”
- “Identify the reasons your customers are buying and enhance them.”
“How much do I love what I do?”
To excel in sales, you must love what you do, and do it wholeheartedly and honestly. When your profession is your passion, the hard work involved will seem easy because there is nothing else you would rather be doing.