Selling Better: Creating the Opportunity to Close the Sale
By Matt Sykes, Founder of Salescadence
One of the biggest barriers in our approach to selling is fear; a fear of rejection, fear of not being liked or a fear of getting a ‘NO’.
This limiting belief is continuously reinforced by that ‘voice in our heads’ which reminds us daily how we’re doing, good or bad. And it can have a negative impact when we’re in the prime position to take the opportunity to close a sale and ask for a commitment from the customer to purchase from you.
So, how do we limit this ‘head-trash’ with practical tools that can help us become more committed to selling what we have and reduce the fears that hold us back?
We can reduce the fear of rejection by identifying the right customer from the start. For a multitude of reasons, not everyone is right for your business. They may be too big, too small, the wrong location or too needy, the list goes on... Therefore, you should be looking to qualify potential customers to make sure they are the right fit for you.
Take five minutes and think about the qualities of your ‘Ideal Customer’. What’s their location and their demographic? What are their needs and how do you solve their needs? Pull together a ‘checklist’ that you can use when you receive a new business enquiry, so you can quickly establish whether they are right for you and your business.
RECOGNISE YOU’RE SOLVING A PROBLEM
As professional sales trainer, coach and keynote speaker, Phil M Jones said, “If you’re not convinced, you cannot convince”. Recognising that your product or service solves a problem is the start of the process of selling. Develop the mindset that you’re helping people improve their business, not selling them something! Think of it like this and you become highly motivated to go out and find people to help.
When you are at networking events, rather than talking about what you do and how you do it, engage people by taking about the problem you solve.
So much of the fear of getting a ‘no’ comes down to not being ‘in control’ of the conversation. A sales conversation that starts off well can quickly become derailed if you don’t have the ability to bring it back to the important points that need to be established and discussed.
When on the telephone or meeting face-to-face for the first time, create a pre-call plan and list (amongst other things) the three key objectives you want to find out from the conversation. Start everything off by explaining to the prospect what your objectives are that you want to discuss and then ask them for theirs. Never forget that people buy for their reasons not ours, so let’s make certain that we find out what those reasons are.
When you move onto the next stage of the sale, remember to keep qualifying the customer and really listen to what they are telling you. Ask open questions that don’t just invite a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. Find out the problem they’re trying to solve and help them establish what they need to do to solve it. Have a duty of care and only sell something that you know will suit the circumstances and is fit for purpose. A satisfied customer and one that will continue to buy from you will be the one where you have been able to read between the lines to assess the true situation.
To get commitment, you need to be able to ask the sometimes difficult and emotional questions that motivate people to take action.
Ask them how long have they had this problem, why haven’t they solved it yet and how much it’s costing them each week they delay doing something about it? Quantify the answers to these ‘implication’ questions and establish the true cost of their problem on a piece of paper. This will tell you and them a lot about their motivation to progress with the sale.
Once their commitment to move forward has been established, it’s time to present your solution. Because you’ve spent quality time exploring, discovering and qualifying the customer’s situation, you can be confident that your product or service will work – hence reducing the fear of rejection. If an objection does come (and they do), don’t be afraid to ask them ‘why?’. In many cases, an objection is simply a concern from the prospect that can be addressed through further discussion.
If the reason for not making a commitment is down to other valid reasons like gaining Board approval or making sure the contract terms are fully drawn up, then it is imperative that you follow up afterwards.
Chasing up people who originally showed you interest in buying from you can be a thankless and demoralising task that drains you of energy and self-belief. However, you can eliminate the fear of rejection and people not getting back to you, by never giving away control in the first place. This comes back to thinking of yourself as a ‘problem solver’. You have an obligation to make sure they take action, even if that means it’s not with you.
Before you leave a voicemail, ask yourself this simple question; “who’s got control after I do this?” Avoid signing off with “call me back”, instead say “I’ll call you again tomorrow at 10am” and keep the control with you.
Above all else, remember that you won’t be successful all the time. Business mentor, Peter Thomson refers to it as “SW3’ – Some will, some won’t, so what!
There is so much more to Peters’ simple yet fundamental words of advice. Aside from the reality that not everyone will buy from you every time, earning the right to use this mantra comes from having a full sales pipeline, the result of your pragmatic and professional approach to how you do your job. Living it, gives you the confidence to keep moving forward to the next opportunity on your list without the emotional baggage that could limit your self-belief and impact your behaviour.
Matt Sykes is Founder of professional sales training and coaching business, Salescadence. Contact Matt on T: 07557 580223 E: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit salescadence.co.uk