In my work, I have the privilege of working with sales teams: equipping, empowering, and enabling them to achieve fulfillment and prosperity in their chosen profession. Selling is a highly specialised skill requiring an assertive yet empathetic nature. To truly be successful you require the ability to engage your audience, listen and understand their needs and then provide them with a solution (yours) which solves their dilemma.
I wanted to share a recent experience I had with two sales consultants that truly reflects the term’winning at sales’. I came into contact with the individuals: one through a referral, the other through previous business and here is what made them ‘winners in sales –
1.They started the business side of the conversation with the question “Why are you looking” – This in my books is a winning question (bear in mind this is a prospective conversation and not a cold call). Typical consultants start off with “what are you looking for?” The aim in sales is to make yourself stand out from the crowd and by asking a needs based question instead of the typical has exactly that effect
2.They asked lots of clarifying questions, seeking to understand the information I was providing – Customers want to feel that the seller is truly interested in properly understanding the situation; that they are being heard. Instead of asking questions from a list in an interview style (as many consultants are prone to do) these two asked questions about the things I was saying.
3. They knew their craft – When they provided me with information, the information they provided was relevant to what I had specified as important and communicated in a way that showed me value (see point one and two). All too often sellers start sharing all the information under the sun, most of it irrelevant to the buyer’s needs and wants.
4. They explained their proposition supported by facts, figures, and examples (their own and from the market) – Selling today is very different to what is was 15 years ago. With the internetofthings, a buyer can source a hell of a lot of information about what they are looking to purchase (granted they have access to good and bad info, however, it is info they are going to draw on as a comparison when you start your sales pitch) and are coming in (typically) very informed so your pitch has to be sound and evidence-based. They also explained it in a number of formats (remember we all take on information differently)
5. T hey were honest and clear – All to often a seller will say just about anything to get the customer on side (and then scramble off the back end to either make it happen, or come back with a reason as to why it didn’t happen) Nothing kills repeat business and referrals more than this. Be clear about what you can and cannot do, what your price point is, what your terms are and then – referring to 4. pitch it with confidence.
6. They communicated and followed up in a professional and consistent manner
So, there I was. I had seen 5 consultants in total, representing 5 different organisations. Two truly impressed me (it turns out they had both started their careers at the same firm) unfortunately at that moment I could only work with one and had to make a choice. They were both equally good, offering a very similar type of service and my decision came down to past experience. This however, is where the stand out ‘winning in sales’ moment arose
7. The not-this-time consultant called me 30sec after I had called to say I wouldn’t be using their service at this time and their opening line was “thank you for getting back to me and although I am disappointed that this time it’s not us, I hope you have every success with the other business. Would you mind giving me honest feedback about your experience with us?” – You read that right! They didn’t call back to try and counter sell me (hell, they called back which is more than the majority of sales people would do in this instance). The result – although I haven’t worked with them, I would gladly recommend them to any friend.
There you have it, the secret to a winning at sales.