What are YOUR Sales Stop Signs?
In our training center, we work on all sorts of things to help people become more successful. One thing we work on often is changing habits. Helping people to start or stop a new habit that will allow them to be more successful is something we work on daily here. In sales, there are many habits that we should “stop”. Why stop them? Because, oftentimes, unbeknownst to the salesperson, they are getting in their own way. In other words, something that they are doing is causing the prospect to be turned off. It could be one item or many, but getting in your own way during a sales appointment could be costing you a lot of “closes”, which means a lot of money.
Here are four issues that many salespeople have, that end up costing them lots of sales, and money. These are items we recommend they STOP.
You talk too much
This one made the list again. Why? Because we see it so often and it’s still a problem. If you are doing most of the talking on a sales call, you are likely losing control of the meeting. I am amazed at how much people can talk, in business and in social settings. If we want to have deeper relationships with people and close more business, we will need to turn off the chatter, listen better and learn to ask good, open-ended questions. Begin asking questions that show that you care. People do not want to know what you know until they know that you care about them. Become a better listener. Ask questions that get to the real issues, and what consequences come from those issues. Use questions that qualify and disqualify. If you are leading with your product knowledge and filling them with features and benefits, you very likely are talking too much.
If you’ve ever been “sold” by a typical salesperson, you know what I am talking about. We don’t want the salesperson to sell us on all of the features and benefits of the products. We don’t want to know how long they’ve been in business, all of the different uses the products has or even that they are the largest, most experienced company that does what they do! All we want to know is, can you help me with the issue that I am having?
You want to solve the problem before you understand it
Let’s face it, there is a good chance that you can help most of the people you meet with. True? However, are we a good fit for everyone we meet with? Probably not. How about them to you? Are they always a good fit with what you’re looking for? Again, likely not. Therefore, why do salespeople feel the need to make it sound like they are a fit for everyone? We all hear phrases out there like, “Don’t worry, we’ll take good care of you”, “We’ll take care of it, we see this all the time” and even, “No problem. This isn’t our first rodeo” (just heard this one last week). Unfortunately, most of us have experienced hearing phrases like this from over-exuberant salespeople, only to discover later that they couldn’t take care of the issue, didn’t take care of the issue or took care of the wrong issue! Most amateur salespeople don’t spend enough time to thoroughly discover what someone’s issue is or what they are looking for. They make assumptions. They make assumptions because what appears to be a very common situation ends up not being one.
In order to get better at understanding what someone is truly looking for, ask better questions. Although there may be too many actual scenarios to determine questions for in this article, here are some of our favorites:
• “How long has the problem been going on?” Or, “how long have you been looking for this service?”
• “What other advice or opinions have you heard to this point?”, followed up with, “Do you agree with that advice?”
• “Because of this issue (or need), what is actually happening that you don’t like?”
• “Out of all of the companies, you could have contacted about this, why us?”
• “Do you feel I understand what you’ve been sharing with me?”
Learn to ask more exploratory questions until you feel you thoroughly understand what people want from you and you’re in a much better position to help them.
Stop proceeding without understanding what the next step is
Quoting. It’s what many salespeople aspire to do as often as they can. They feel that the more they quote, the better they do. True? No. Think of it this way: if you are quoting before you understand why people might pick you, all you’re doing is making it easier for them to shop you. Once they have your number, your scope of work and other details, they don’t need you anymore. They can shop you, do it themselves, give your number to your competitors or simply do nothing. They own you and your leverage is gone.
On the contrary, if you treat your quotes like a remedy for a rare disease, only those that qualify for it get one. If you believe me, make your quotes a privilege to receive, rather than passing out candy that everyone gets. Put a stop sign in your sales process and stop giving out quotes and bids to whomever wants one. You lose control of the process and it’s not in your best interest. Make them qualify for it.
Stop giving discounts
For those that think that by discounting you have an advantage, please stop. All you’re doing is bringing down the marketplace. It can be thought of this way – when you discount, especially quickly and easily, you have just sent these messages to your prospect:
• You agree that it is not worth the price quoted
• You were taking advantage of them initially, with a higher price
• You discount all the time, which will have them ask every time
And, those are simply how they judge you. What other negative connotations are left behind?
• You’re not making what you should be making on the job
• You made it harder to reach your goals
• You’re not earning what you’re worth
• It changes your own beliefs that you aren’t selling a high-quality product
I know that we all want to make the sale that we are in front of. However, instead of working at giving away margin, work harder on getting them to discover your value so they don’t even ask for a discount. Work harder at asking good questions to build credibility. Work harder at mirroring and matching their personality so they bond with you. And, work harder at asking for referrals so they don’t feel as comfortable requesting a discount to begin with.
This year has begun in blockbuster fashion for most. Spring is quickly approaching. Start getting your sales process ready and stop with the bad sales habits. Although business will likely be good again this year, work on not simply taking jobs but being more selective, in order to close the “right” business. In order to continue growing the right way during this great economy, sharpen your sales awareness, work smarter and quit getting in the way of the sale!