Over the last 30 years I’ve worked with some very successful and savvy professional sales people.
And I’ve noticed that regardless of personal style, all successful professional salespeople do three things extremely well when in front of a prospect. They position themselves, establish credibility and keep control.
They know that selling is a structured process made up of defined steps. They understand that taking short cuts and missing steps will set them up to fail and be a major waste of time – both for them and their prospects.
But sadly, this skill is not often taught. And many a sale is lost because of it.
So go over all three aspects… Positioning, credibility and control.
Start with control – by setting the stage.
You’ve made an appointment with a prospect. They’ve agreed to see you but really don’t know anything about you or your organisation.
This is how I suggest you handle the meeting.
Frame the meeting and control the agenda
Start with the usual welcome pleasantries. Then say something along the lines of, “As we have an hour together, what I’d like to do is start by telling you a little about me (or our organisation), then I’ll ask about you and we’ll get into why we’re here and discuss your challenges and how we could help solve them”.
Now comes the critical bit. You have to “EARN THE RIGHT” to be heard by positioning yourself and establishing credibility. In other words, why should your prospect be listening to you?
Your goal is to establish yourself as the expert and have them take you and your recommendations seriously.
So how do you go about this? Well, there is a formula which goes like this…
You start with:
- Your background
- Your achievements (x3)
- Your philosophy
For each component think in terms of features and benefits. Features are what you did. Benefits are how this translates into something you could do for your prospect. So for each feature, ask “so what? What does this give my prospect?”
Let me illustrate with an example – ours. I’ll break it up into its components:
We started our business coaching practice from scratch 12 years ago. And like any small business we’ve experienced first-hand the challenges involved in running a profitable business. i.e. marketing, sales, delivery and managing staff.
We both had over 20 years corporate experience in sales and management, but soon realised running a small business took a very different skill set.
So we put our hands in our own pockets and invested a considerable amount of time and money working with different business coaching and mentoring programs delivered by some of the world’s best sales & marketing experts to learn the ropes.
And it’s that education combined with the experience of growing businesses in over 20 different industries that all our clients find invaluable and unique.
I’ll give you three examples of how we’ve helped organisations grow…
The first is a dental equipment manufacturer who was doing around $3M/year in sales at the time. The MD’s goal was to hit the $10M/year mark within 3 years.
We worked with them on their sales processes, team development and the MD’s leadership skills. The business ended up doing $11.5M – well over the original goal. This is part of a letter he sent to us regarding the achievement. “Thanks for your help in achieving this milestone. I know the time we spent together was definitely the turning point for the company.”
The second example is a professional photographic lab. A highly technical operation, they were very good at delivery, but didn’t have a clue regarding marketing and selling. As such they found it very hard to justify their much higher prices and differentiate themselves from the competition.
We worked with them in a range of areas including marketing, sales and team development.
They took on board and implemented what we taught and today they are one of the only professional labs still profitable and in business. Most of their competitors have gone to the wall.
This is from their chairman…
“We have to thank our own determination to succeed but it could not have been possible without Revealed Resources. Determination alone is not enough if your basics are poorly defined and goals and strategies are not realistic and achievable.”
And my final example is a market leading European manufacturer of high end equipment who was struggling to stay competitive in a market being flooded by cheap Chinese imports.
We created marketing strategies, trained and coached their sales team and implemented systems which resulted in them not only keeping their revenue stable in a declining market, but actually increasing their profit. They ended up being the second most profitable subsidiary worldwide behind Germany.
Their MD recently told me… “The business coaching was instrumental in helping us see what was possible. And your ongoing work with the sales team moved them from order takers to really getting out there and selling.”
These are just a few examples of results we’ve achieved for our clients. We have many more.
We love working with businesses that are already successful, and that recognise that there’s a lot of untapped potential and want to do something about it.
Now you can move into the next part of the meeting where you delve down into their issues and challenges as you’ve positioned yourself as the expert with credibility. Which is a whole topic unto itself – one I’ll start to cover next week.
In the meantime, if you’re having challenges with sales people not performing, talk to us about our sales performance improvement programs. Improving your sales value and conversion rate is one of the most cost effective ways of improving your bottom line.