I learned very early on that “nothing happens until the sale is made.” Everything about business starts with the sale. I also recognized very early on that most companies do a pretty good job teaching product knowledge (and this is very important), but few companies spend any time, effort or money on teaching selling skills. Why would that be? If the whole survival of a business depends on sales, shouldn't you do everything you possibly can to help your salespeople be the very best they can be?
There are literally hundreds of books, CDs, videos and seminars on the subject. Spend a little time and discover which of these resources would be the best learning tools for your team. Build a library. Develop a system to encourage (insist) that your salespeople spend time (company and/or personal) on improving their selling skills.
Becoming a better salesperson is a learned skill. You learn certain simple and basic sales techniques and then you practice, practice, practice! Hey, the better your salespeople become, the more they'll sell. This means both the company and salespeople will earn more. Now that sounds like a win-win to me. I wrote a series of articles on selling skills in SUPPLY HOUSE TIMES beginning in May 2001. Go online (www.supplyhousetimes.com), search for Darlington and print these messages and distribute them to your sales team.
As part of my new seminar I have two self-appraisal “tests” that individual salespeople can use to rate themselves. (If you would like a copy of these, just drop me an e-mail and they'll be on the way.) The purpose of rating yourself is to discover which areas you might need help on - and then go to work to improve these areas. Self-improvement is a huge part of becoming a better salesperson.
Then, obviously, if you really want to take a giant step at improving your showroom team's selling skills, I'd be happy to share with you more about my all-new Selling Skills Seminar. Just send me an e-mail or pick up the phone.
Enough of the soapbox preaching! Let's cover a number of what I call “Keys to Selling Success.” These are in no particular order and each of them is important in its own way. The more of these you can put to work for you, the more successful you'll be in your personal selling efforts.
1. BE PREPARED!a. Know your products, services, policies and procedures
b. Learn and practice good selling skills
c. Learn all you can about your clients and how they buy
d. Know your clients' projects
f. Read trade magazines to stay up-to-date and informed
g. Attend seminars
2. LEARN TO BE A SELF-MOTIVATORa. Know how to work out of a slump
b. Learn to recover from losing a “big job”
c. Get enough sleep and exercise
d. Continually work on self-improvement in all areas of your life
e. Don't wait for someone else to do it for you
f. Start working longer, harder and smarter
3. DEVELOP YOUR OWN PERSONAL BRANDa. Establish yourself as an expert
b. Be seen and known as being very good
c. Become known as an innovator and creative person
d. Separate yourself from the competition
e. Gain professional stature
f. Build YOUR image
g. Become a resource
h. Always strive to be the very best
i. Be active in your community and industry
j. Have a good time doing what you do
4. LEARN TO SELL VALUEa. Sell yourself first!
b. Sell your company second
c. Sell your products next
d. Stop thinking of your products as a commodity
e. Focus on the lifetime use of the product
f. Give value right up front - don't add it on later
5. LEARN HOW TO NETWORK - THEN DO IT!a. Industry and trade associations
b. Local civic organizations
c. Local charitable organizations
d. Local media
e. Cultural and sporting events
f. Spend 75% of your time with people you don't know
6. DISCOVER WHO THE REAL DECISION MAKER ISa. Make appointments whenever possible
b. Have a plan and an agenda
c. Ask “How will the decisions be made?”
7. ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONSa. Ask questions that qualify needs
b. Ask questions that make the client evaluate new information
c. Ask questions about the project and personal goals
d. Ask questions that separate you from the competition
e. Ask smart questions - they'll make you look smart!
f. What you ask sets the tone and perception of the buyer
8. MAKE THEM LAUGHa. Humor is the highest form of language mastery
b. You can be professional and funny
c. It's better to tell stories than jokes
d. Laughter is universal
9. USE CREATIVITY TO DIFFERENTIATE AND DOMINATEa. Creativity comes from YOU
b. It's an art and science you can learn
c. Look at YOUR brand - be creative
10. ELIMINATE RISK - AND THE CLIENT WILL BUYYou must learn to identify which risk factors are bothering each of your customers. They'll vary client to client. Then you have to eliminate them one by one!
Here are some common risk elements that may be on your client's mind:
11. TESTIMONIALS SELLa. This may be your single most powerful selling tool
b. Happy clients are the most powerful people on your selling team
c. Bragging isn't bragging if someone else says it
d. Get written and verbal testimonials about YOU, YOUR COMPANY and your PRODUCTS and SERVICES
e. Use testimonials to tell your story in advertising, scrapbooks, videos, mailers, etc.
f. Use testimonials as public relations in all the media
12. DEVELOP POSITIVE SALES SENSESa. The sense of confidence
b. The sense of positive anticipation
c. The sense of determination
d. The sense of achievement
e. The sense of winning
f. The sense of success
g. The sense of trust
13. SPEND LESS TIME ON OTHER PEOPLE'S BUSINESS AND PROBLEMS AND MORE TIME ON YOUR OWNa. Don't try to help others with their personal lives until you've mastered your own
b. Use the time you spend trying to improve someone else's universe to try and improve your own
Okay, I'm out of space for this issue, but I have several more “Keys to Selling Success” and “Errors to Avoid.” So you'll just have to be on the lookout for Part Two in next month's issue. Don't forget to e-mail me if you want the Self-Assessment tests. Put these “Keys to Selling Success” to work for you beginning right now. You'll be a better, happier and a richer salesperson!