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You can be a Salesperson


Sales Stages

The foundations of most modern sales techniques lie in five stages of action. These began in the 1950's and include:

  1. Attention: You have to get the attention of your prospect through some advertising or prospecting method.
  2. Interest: Build their interest by using an emotional appeal such as how good they will look to their boss when they make this deal that will save the company thousands of dollars!
  3. Desire: Build their desire for your product by showing them its features and letting them sample or test-drive it.
  4. Conviction: Increase their desire for your product by statistically proving the worth of your product. Compare it to its competitors. Use testimonials from happy customers.
  5. Action: Encourage the prospect to act. This is your closing. Ask for the order. If they object, address their objections. There are then many variations of closing techniques that can help get the business.

There is a plethora of closing techniques that range from hard sell to soft sell and everything in-between. Some of these include:

  • A Direct Close - Simply ask for the order when you are sure your prospect is ready.
  • A Deal/Concession Close - Using this closing technique gives the prospect the feeling that they are making a smart choice and saving money (or getting more value). Use it with phrases like "Order today and I can add this other module for only 10 percent more."
  • A Time-Driven Close - This one works well with statements like, "prices are going up next week, so you should go ahead a let me place your order today."
  • Trial Offer - You can let the prospect use the product at no risk for a trial period. This works well if you're selling products that make people's lives easier. They aren't likely to want to give it back if it has saved them a lot of time and effort during the trial period. On the other hand, if they haven't had the experience with the product you told them they would then you probably won't get another chance.


Relationship Selling

Did you know that it costs more than five times as much to get a new customer as it does to keep an existing customer? That in itself should help you understand the value of building a relationship with your customers and turning them into both repeat buyers and spokespeople for your company. Word of mouth referrals are still one of the best ways to make new sales. If Joe tells Ed he got a great deal from Joanna at XYZ company, then Ed is more likely to go to Joanna and also buy (or at least be receptive if Joanna calls him to set up an appointment.)

Relationship selling is all about building a friendship or relationship with your prospects and listening to their needs. Once you've built that relationship, shown you care, and earned their trust, you are on the road to making them a customer. Knowing their needs and finding out their secret fears (for example, your client may confide to you, "If I can't make this project work within budget, my boss will probably replace me!") can help you find solutions for them that are exactly on-target with their needs and build an even stronger relationship. With a relationship in place, working out details is a breeze. Those details become obstacles if you don't have the existing relationship.

As a client, some of my best experiences with sales people were with those who honestly listened to my needs, and showed an interest in more than just the business. They came in with a low pressure, open, and honest approach and won my business. I didn't mind setting up appointments for their visits. I looked forward to them. It was low pressure and friendly. My company received good service, good prices, and everyone was happy. I knew they would react quickly if I had problems or emergency needs. So, when competitors called, I quickly told them we were happy with our current vendor - even if they may have been able to give us a better price! That's part of the power of relationship selling!

Most people react negatively to high pressure sales. In relationship selling, high pressure is not typically part of the equation, simply because it's hard to have a friendly relationship with a client who feels pressured by you. In relationship selling, you become a form of support for your clients. Your services or products become something they depend on, and the more you can suit their needs and make their jobs easier, the better they will respond to additional sales offers. You'll also find that relationship selling benefits companies that offer products in very competitive markets - particularly if there isn't a lot of difference between products!

In the next section we'll learn about the importance of maintaining contact with the customer.

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With that said, let's just go over some things that are beneficial in almost any market. These tips are basic guidelines that most any sales person can benefit from.

  • Listen to the emotional side of your prospect or client: Emotions are tied into almost everything we do even if we don't realize it. Your client may mention off-hand that they are really stressed-out about a particular project they are working on (even if it doesn't relate to what you're selling them). Make a note of this and see if there is anything you can do to assist them. You may have another client who had a similar dilemma and found a good solution. Make those connections and help where ever you can. You'll be rewarded with loyalty from all of your clients.
  • Focus on your prospect or client's needs: We've talked about it before, but it's worth mentioning again. You may be tempted to sell your client your top-of-the-line model gadget when they really only need the mid-line model. By selling them more than they need, you may be cutting off future relations with them. Once they realize (and they will eventually) that they don't need most of what you sold them, they'll feel bitter and resentful toward you for wasting their money and not looking out for their best interest. They'll see you as a "salesperson" and not as a resource.
  • Use language that focuses on your prospect or client: Simply changing the way you speak may also make a difference in how you are received by your prospect. Using "you" and "yours," or "you'll find..." rather than "I think" or "Let me tell you about," brings your message a little closer to home and may grab their attention more quickly.
  • Help your prospect see the bottom line: If you know your product can help clients save money, or increase profitability, then make sure they understand that. Your product may have an edge in that it includes features that save time. Time is money as the saying goes, and if you can save time your can often sell your product.
  • Find out your prospect's priorities: You can save yourself a lot of wasted time and effort by simply knowing how important your product and its benefits are to your prospect. If you've listened to them and determined the need, but still aren't getting anywhere, find out if there are other elements of their business that are taking priority and pushing your sale aside. If you know they have to implement a program before they can spend time considering (or funds purchasing) your product then you can schedule a call back at a later date that may stand a better chance of getting some attention. To do this you have to ask the questions because the information is not always volunteered. (Again, the key is focusing on the needs of your prospect, and having an open relationship already in place.


With that said, let's just go over some things that are beneficial in almost any market. These tips are basic guidelines that most any sales person can benefit from.

  • Listen to the emotional side of your prospect or client: Emotions are tied into almost everything we do even if we don't realize it. Your client may mention off-hand that they are really stressed-out about a particular project they are working on (even if it doesn't relate to what you're selling them). Make a note of this and see if there is anything you can do to assist them. You may have another client who had a similar dilemma and found a good solution. Make those connections and help where ever you can. You'll be rewarded with loyalty from all of your clients.
  • Focus on your prospect or client's needs: We've talked about it before, but it's worth mentioning again. You may be tempted to sell your client your top-of-the-line model gadget when they really only need the mid-line model. By selling them more than they need, you may be cutting off future relations with them. Once they realize (and they will eventually) that they don't need most of what you sold them, they'll feel bitter and resentful toward you for wasting their money and not looking out for their best interest. They'll see you as a "salesperson" and not as a resource.
  • Use language that focuses on your prospect or client: Simply changing the way you speak may also make a difference in how you are received by your prospect. Using "you" and "yours," or "you'll find..." rather than "I think" or "Let me tell you about," brings your message a little closer to home and may grab their attention more quickly.
  • Help your prospect see the bottom line: If you know your product can help clients save money, or increase profitability, then make sure they understand that. Your product may have an edge in that it includes features that save time. Time is money as the saying goes, and if you can save time your can often sell your product.
  • Find out your prospect's priorities: You can save yourself a lot of wasted time and effort by simply knowing how important your product and its benefits are to your prospect. If you've listened to them and determined the need, but still aren't getting anywhere, find out if there are other elements of their business that are taking priority and pushing your sale aside. If you know they have to implement a program before they can spend time considering (or funds purchasing) your product then you can schedule a call back at a later date that may stand a better chance of getting some attention. To do this you have to ask the questions because the information is not always volunteered. (Again, the key is focusing on the needs of your prospect, and having an open relationship already in place.)
  • Use explanations rather than excuses: If you do have to explain to a customer why there is a problem with their order, their repair, their service, etc. Explain why the problem is there in the first place, rather than using an excuse. For example, if you provide health care services and you're having difficulty meeting the scheduling needs of the customer, you might it explain it like this, "With this being a particularly bad allergy season we have had more emergency calls due to asthma (or whatever the case may be) and these patients can't wait for a scheduled appointment. Our staff is behind schedule, but we are addressing the problem now by bringing in temporary help for these critical need times. So we should be able to schedule your service on 'x' date." Understanding the problem may help alleviate some of their frustration. Verbalizing the cause may also keep you more aware of the potential problems so you can be more prepared the next time around.
  • So, there you have several sales tips to keep in mind when you're out there pounding the pavement. Stop, look and listen; it's good advice on the street, and it's good advice in sales. Next we'll talk about some of the cool technology you can use to manage your time and your clients more effectively.
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