One of the biggest misconceptions about sales is that you have to be some kind of fast-talking comeback king. When the average person imagines a salesperson, they think of a confident, cocky, smooth-walking fork-tongued wordsmith. The reality is, the coldest closers are usually quiet and methodical.
Another major misconception about sales is that you have to be aggressive and pushy to close deals. While it helps to aggressively prospect, it rarely works these days to use force to talk someone into making a decision. The customer is smarter than that. Also, with the advancement of Internet sales, prospects don’t fear pressure from salespeople. They can simply buy somewhere else with the click of a mouse.
Although the consumer knows how to leave, when to say no and doesn’t fear pressure, you still have sales to close. Knowing the same old intrusive tactics your sales manager from the 90’s shared with you doesn’t work as well today. So, what’s a salesman to do?
Sharpen your axe!
Abe Lincoln once said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening my axe.” We live in the day and age when salespeople need to sharpen their axe. Instead of reacting to prospect objections and hesitations, you need to go into each sales scenario with a sharpened axe.
Although the way sales are closed has evolved, you still must control the conversation and close the sale. That part of the process never changes. How you control the prospect has. You can’t control a conversation by speaking over, being rude, using fancy phrases or any of that bull-oney. The consumer is getting too “smart” for those tactics.
Adopt a process that will allow you to handle the sales conversation, and that also allows the prospect to feel like they are making a buying decision instead of being forced into a sale. Here’s the thing; everyone loves buying shit. Amazon is proof of that. But no one wants to be sold something. The word “sold” has developed a bad stigma outside of our industry. Salespeople love to sell. The prospect loves to buy. There’s a communication breakdown in between.
You need to sharpen your axe and prepare for a new way of closing sales. This new way doesn’t require you to be a master of words and it doesn’t require you to have a PhD in psychology either. It simply requires that you develop your listening skills and your ability to solve problems.
You control a sales conversation by asking questions.
You see, questions elicit a response and I always say, “He who speaks the least earns the most.” Meaning, if you speak more words than the prospect does, you most likely will lose the sale. Your job is to get the prospect to talk to you. Ask the questions that lead them to self-realize your product is for them.
For example, when someone says the product is “too expensive,” the typical salesman will say, “Price is only an issue when value doesn’t exceed cost.” Or, they will use a different, fast wordtrack they’ve been taught since day one. The better route would be to ask a question like this “I understand it’s more expensive than what you expected but if you don’t purchase it today, what do you plan on doing to solve the problem that led you here?” Sure, that’s a general phrase, but you can plug in whatever you need to sell right into it.
You want to ask the prospect questions to get them talking. Once they talk, your job is to dissect clues to use in questions when objections come up. “I’m not ready to buy anything today” can be handled with: “How long do you plan on hanging onto the problem that led you here?” This type of questioning, in the right tone, will close sales. These simple questions get them to confess their problems and rationalize solving them.
When you ask questions and get the prospect to talk, you’ll have a better understanding of their needs, their style and how to solve their problem. This is also how you express empathy. When the prospect thinks you understand their situation, they will trust you to give them a prescription to solve it.
The key is to get the prospect talking, and you can only do this by asking questions. Make a list of 10-20 questions you need to ask to get the sale closed. Quick tip: when you ask the question, shut up and let the prospect talk. Don’t interrupt and don’t make a suggestion until you know they know you know their problem and how to solve it. For more sales and marketing training, sign up for our Entourage mastermind at www.breakfreeacademy.com/entourage