sales 101, sales skills & techniques you need to know

whether you’ve been a professional
salesperson for 30 years or you just started your first sales job yesterday
the number one thing that will ultimately determine your success day in
and day out is right between your ears it’s your mindset we’ve all experienced
at one time or another someone trying to sell us something we didn’t see the need
for nor want at that moment it’s the pushy over aggressive self
focused salesperson that perpetuates the stereotype the reality is sales is a
noble profession in fact without it the economy would grind to a screeching halt
most salespeople wake up every day with fear fear of rejection fear of failure
fear of not hitting quota etc it’s that very fear that drives us inward in our
focus and that mindset causes the unintended consequence of distrust and
disconnect with our customers the number one job of any sales profession is
ultimately to solve the customers problem the issue however is that many
of us have been trained over the course of our sales career on how to ask
leading questions look for opportunities to present the facts features and
benefits of our solutions before we’ve earned the right or the trust of the
customer the most successful salespeople are individuals who have a mindset of
what I call the 3 s’s the first s is adopting a servants
mindset what can you do to better understand the customer in their
perspective how can you look through their lens to gain a better view of
their world it may be cliched but how can you
attempt to metaphorically walk a mile in their shoes the more you do this the
more empathetic you will become and this servant mentality will come across to
the customer loud and clear now once you’ve done your best to view the world
through your customers lens you arrive at the second S which is to share your
experience and knowledge as well as the experience and knowledge of other
customers who have had similar problems now once you’ve served and shared
effectively you’ve earned the right to help the customer with the third s
and that’s solve their problem the order matters significantly this process of
serving sharing and then solving builds authentic trust upfront and leads the
customer to a place where they genuinely want your help to solve their problem
because they trust you assuming you now have the appropriate
solution to help them you’ve made a new customer and likely a new friend in the
process so here’s a few key mindset evaluation questions to ask yourself do
you genuinely care about other people’s problems and find that you’re typically
empathetic towards them do you often share great ideas with others around
great experiences that you had maybe it was a great movie a new restaurant etc
when others share their problems with you do you instinctively think of and
potentially offer solutions to help them if you said yes then you already have
the right mindset to be a serving sharing solving salesperson it’s
actually a lot more natural than you thought huh in fact I believe that
everyone in the world is a salesperson the question is do you come across in a
way that perpetuates the stereotypical salesperson or are you someone who
genuinely likes to connect by following the 3 s’s approach when you approach
your role from the serve share and solve mindset you’ll not only see your sales
skyrocket you’ll find that your own job satisfaction elevates right along with
your numbers we know that people buy from people they
trust they trust people they like and they like people they connect with when
a salesperson launches into their presentation mode too early
it not only bypasses the customers mental trust process it actually sends
the brain into a place of skepticism and judgment at the simplest of levels
here’s the filter in the stages the buying brain works through safety
connection trust understanding opportunity and credibility to
positively impact your customer you must follow the path of connection to
credibility here’s how you can evaluate this process can you quickly and
genuinely create trust by connecting with your customer through mutual
beliefs this helps drop their defense mechanisms
and get you through the first three stages safety connection and Trust can
you reinforce that trust through your understanding and empathy of their
situation and/or issues because this accomplishes stage 4 understanding can
you clearly show them a path forward that results in their success in other
words stage 5 opportunity options available to them can you demonstrate
proof that you and your company have the ability to actually solve their problem
this is stage 6 credibility to summarize it’s about creating an environment of
safety and trust through connection then demonstrating a clear understanding of
their issues being able to clearly and simply articulate the opportunities
available and then demonstrating your credibility to help them solve the
problem following this order is imperative as it allows your customers
brain to work through its normal cascade of processing and set you up for optimal
success you instead of thinking about how many
possible people could buy your product if all the stars aligned appropriately I
want you to start thinking about who in the marketplace is your product or
service most likely to help quickly and effectively solve a problem and then
work backwards from there so what is an ideal customer anyway an ideal customer
could be described as a customer who values your product or service a
customer whom you can make a profit from sorry folks but this is a business you
got to make money or you won’t be in business very long a customer who’d be
willing to refer you to other potential customers start with the smallest market
possible if you identify a very focused group of potential customers that have
the highest likely degree of success with your product or service you will
gain credibility faster and be able to expand your customer base I’d like you
to think of your ideal customer through the ready willing and able framework
let’s take a look at them one at a time first are they ready issue do they have
a problem that they need solved awareness do they know they have a
problem motivation do they have a sense of urgency to solve their problem next
up are they willing and this starts with timing are they ready to solve the
problem today are they searching are they currently looking for solutions to
solve their problem and finally are they able the first category here is money do
they have the budget to solve the problem
next is Authority do they have permission or approval or the
decision-making authority to actually solve the problem now how do we find
these customers that are ready willing and able start by creating ideal
customer personas or profiles customer personas include the following
information what’s the ideal industry your best potential customer is in the
ideal title or experience that they have what’s the ideal buying cycle for your
product meaning is the customer ready willing and able to purchase your
product when you need them to and then the ideal location meaning your product
or solution is geographically aligned to where your best customer is also located
one of the easiest ways to get started with customer personas is to build them
around your best current customers if you’ve got a handful of great customers
today who love and appreciate you and your product then you’re gonna want to
clone them by building your personas around them you create the exact profile
for your next best new customer using these customer personas and the ready
willing and able filter you should be able to quickly narrow your pool of
prospective buyers and qualify them much more efficiently if you don’t have this
type of information readily available talk to the person responsible for
marketing at your company they should be able to provide you these types of
profiles if you’re a small business and you’re both the sales and marketing
departments you basically have two choices first you can do the research
yourself with the help of Google LinkedIn and others or you can hire a
market research company to help you build these target profiles based on
your input and their expertise remember the key is to find a narrowest group of
customers with whom you can develop a quick and effective partnership by
helping them solve their urgent problem and you can expand from there the key is to understand the customers
issues through their lens not yours the only way to do this is to ask
experiential questions that allow the customer to really dig deep into their
issues now let me introduce you to the easiest yet most powerful framework
under the Sun that will help you navigate this crucial sales success area
it’s called the four eyes the first eye is to uncover the issue if there’s more
than one issue it’s very important to help the customer prioritize them that
way you can address the most urgent issues the second eye to identify is the
impact the issue is having on the customer this is where you will quantify
the problem if you fail to quantify the problem then the customer won’t have a
relative comparison to value when you reveal the price of your solution the
third eye is invasiveness this is really a subset of impact but reaches across
the customers organization looks for the broader impact the issue may have for
example if I can’t improve my new business acquisition then I can’t hire
more people or worse yet I may have to lay people off invasiveness can be any
larger impact on the business that results in not solving this particular
problem the final eye is iceberg this is the giant barrier that is
preventing the customer from solving the problem prior to your meeting
generally speaking icebergs tend to be knowledge time and/or budget or money by
addressing this area you will reveal any potential objections the customer may
have as to what will prevent them from moving forward with your solution we’ve talked in great deal at this point
about how customers make a purchase to solve a problem that problem can be
intrinsic or extrinsic but either way when we make a purchase we feel like we
are filling a need regardless of what we are buying there are particular triggers
or motivators that push us over the edge from window shopper to new customer
these motivators are key to understand as each of your potential new customers
will have one or more that will need to be met in order to secure well your
order these are in no particular order as each buyer will be different
the first motivator we will discuss is price how much something costs can be
and in many cases is a large motivator in a buyers decision as with all
purchases I can use this to justify why I don’t purchase or why I do purchase
the next motivator that tends to go along with price but as much deeper is
value people who are motivated by value are weighing the benefit of your product
or service compared to the price that you’re asking the higher the perceived
value the more I’m willing to pay next up we have quality this motivator tends
to go hand in glove with value the difference between the two is where
value is a perception of benefit versus price quality is strictly the perception
of caliber of the product or service the fourth motivator is
self-preservation this scenario is when I feel that I must make you purchase in
order to secure promotion prevent a demotion or simply in more practical
terms protect my family or myself this motivator is driven primarily by fear
and as a highly emotional motivator in a business to business sales setting it’s
very difficult to uncover this motivator finally the last motivator we will cover
is social pressure many people buy products today based on who they know
personally has recently bought the same product this motivator derives from the
groupthink mentality in the sub conscious feeling of the need to fit in
or belong you know to not miss out many products today have gained mass market
appeal simply by leveraging the motivation of social pressure why do you
have the cellphone you have what about the car you drive how about the
neighborhood you live in many subconscious factors go into the social
pressure motivator but it can be a strong ally in your sales approach if
your product or service has the type of mass-market reputation that creates a
buzz in the mind of your prospective customer these are the primary
motivators of why customers buy once they know they have a problem and have
decided to attempt to solve it one or more of these motivators will help them
pull the trigger your goal is to determine through your research and
conversation which motivator is having the largest impact on their decision can you think of something that you’ve
recently changed satellite provider cellphone carrier insurance change is
hard for the vast majority of human beings isn’t it getting your customer to
change is equally as hard let’s talk about the change process and then go a
little deeper into the barriers that prevent us from changing in order to
change in particular from a consumer standpoint we go through what I call the
purchase change equation awareness plus motivation plus ability equals change
step one is does your customer have the awareness that they need to change or
even that other options are available the next step step two is how motivated
are they to make the change is there enough pain etc change seldom occurs
until the pain is staying the same exceeds the pain of change let that one
sink in step three how easily can they implement the change if you have a great
product or service but your lead times are six months out you’ve made it much
more difficult for me to change to your product even though the right level of
awareness combined with the right level of motivation and the ease or ability to
implement leads to the greatest likelihood of change there are still
several unconscious barriers that we all have to accepting change the first is
anxiety when faced with a change human beings tend to get really anxious they
do this due to the fact that they have the subconscious feeling that they are
going to take a risk and don’t know what the outcome will be so what’s the
solution ensure there’s trust in the relationship
first and then be mindful to continually speak to what the customer can expect
from your partnership remove the unexpected and unknown in you’ll remove
the anxiety barrier the next barrier is the feeling of isolation when faced with
a change humans tend to draw inward and feel isolated
we don’t do this consciously it’s at a subconscious level it stems from our
internal fight-or-flight mechanism and that we need to hunker down and get
through this change so what’s the solution ensure the
customer understands how many other customers have been in their exact shoes
and the results they have experienced by working with you
in addition provide them with direct access to a couple of really satisfied
customers who will walk them through their positive experience do this
successfully and they will move from a feeling of isolation to an excitement of
being part of something that’s already successful the next barrier is the
feeling of potential loss because humans primarily view change is bad especially
change that we didn’t choose ourselves we tend to look at the change cup as
half-empty rather than half-full as a result we start looking for things we
will lose or have to give up to make the change it’s part of our
self-preservation mechanism buried deep within our subconscious so what’s the
solution to this make sure you’re using positive language that continually
highlights what the customer will gain by making a change the next barrier
customers face is we can only take so much change at one time I think this one
is pretty self-explanatory I want to do a person who moved twice switch jobs got
the forest and lost their father all in the same year overwhelming to say the
least our brains are wired to handle only so many changes at once if you try
to sell more than one solution at a time to your customer they may start to feel
overwhelmed and not end up buying anything what’s the solution to this
focus the customer at one incremental change at a time baby steps is the key
the next barrier is when the pressure to change is off we tend to revert back to
our all the way so referring back to the change equation if my awareness is high
but my motivation really isn’t then the minute you walk out of my door no matter
how excited you made me feel about your product
I will likely go right back to doing business the same way as before you came
what’s the solution make sure you spend enough time really diving into the
customers issues and spend as much time as necessary quantifying those issues
that will drive up the motivation and urgency and the
likelihood that they will make the change then and there so in summary it’s
really about your ability to help navigate your customer through the
awareness plus motivation + ability equation all while keeping in mind the
five subconscious potential barriers to change do so effectively and you will
ensure the sale and create trust and loyalty in the process products and services are simply the
vehicles that delivers the solution let’s look at the formal definition of a
product versus a solution a product simply defined is an article or
substance that’s manufactured or refined for sale makes sense right a solution is
defined as a means of solving a problem or dealing with a difficult situation
see the product may be the means what the solution is most certainly the end
people buy solutions not products now I’m not sure about you but where most
salespeople run off the rails is that they try to sell products instead of
solutions they communicate the facts and the features and the figures and the
opinions around the physical characteristics of their products rather
than the process of arriving at a positive solution for the customer so
here’s what I want you to do take a moment and make a list of all the
solutions your product or service solves next I want you to think about how you
can ask better questions to get your customers focused on the solution to
their problem first and then use your product to solve what is it that distinguishes you from
me you may have black hair where I have blonde you might be five feet nine where
I’m over six feet tall you may have long hair where mine is short you get the
point it’s our features that are the obvious
initial characteristics that allow us to tell one person from the next in certain
circumstances the benefits of those features may allow for one person to
have an advantage over another now when it comes to your product or service it’s
critical to understand all your features but it’s the benefit of the feature that
the customer needs to see is critical to solving their problem and as importantly
the advantage your solution creates compared to other options that they have
available to solve their problem many salespeople are wonderful at spouting
the facts and data to describe all the wonderful features of their product or
service but great salespeople they know all the details of their customers
problem they are solving and can relate the benefit of the features of their
product plus the resulting feeling the customer gets having used your solution
to solve it they do this while at the same time creating differentiating space
from their competition by ensuring the advantage they possess over the
competitor comes through loud and clear here’s the application if you haven’t
already done so in previous lessons I’d like for you to make a list of the top
five problems that your customers tend to have make them problems that your
product or service can solve next I want you to list out the top five to ten
features your product possesses next after that next to each feature I’d like
you to list the benefit that that feature has to your customer in a way or
manner in which it helps solve or leads to solving the problem finally next to
that list the advantage that feature and benefit has over alternative or
competitive solutions your customer might be considering if you can
successfully do this across the board it will be extremely easy for your customer
to see you as the obvious choice for their solution now if you find that you
come out on the losing side of each feature benefit advantage exercise you
might want to find a new product or service to market we want proof the need for proof that a
product or service actually does what it says it does is rooted deep in our
brains subconscious mechanisms that drive self-preservation we don’t want to
make a mistake we don’t want to get fooled that will cause pain and we like
to avoid pain proof that a product or solution works
helps us minimize that risk and when it comes to the proof of your solution
there are five basic proof sources that you can pull from the first proof source
is that of the expert depending on the sophistication of your product or
solution an expert can really elevate the credibility of your solution in the
eyes of your potential customers there are experts in every field so it’s not a
stretch to think that any given solution could use this source the more technical
the solution the more appropriate the need for an expert proof source a good
example of this would be a doctor helping promote a new drug or supplement
the next proof source is that of a celebrity celebrity endorsements are
quite powerful particularly in the direct-to-consumer space in the
business-to-business space celebrity proof sources are much less common next
up we have the user proof source regardless of the product or service
when you can demonstrate credibility through the eyes of the end-user you
generate significant momentum and influence on new customers every website
on the planet uses testimonials and reviews now to pitch their products
using case studies and third-party reference stories in the
business-to-business space is quite common and can be very effective if done
properly the fourth proof source at our disposal is the wisdom of the crowd this
proof source is like the user proof source but supercharged rather than a
specific user experience wisdom of the crowd taps into our deep desire to be a
part of something big as well as our fear of missing out this proof source
uses the mass effect to influence you know if millions of people of either
McDonald’s then it must be good if 30,000 people have joined a service it
must work volume of customers equate to credibility in our
subconscious minds finally we have the wisdom of peers proof source this
technique leverages the known referral source if you can generate a reference
that the new customers familiar with you increase the influence factor tenfold
now if you’re someone I trust and you refer me to someone who has a product or
service that I need I automatically transfer a portion of that trust onto
you this proof source is the most powerful
as it comes from someone the potential new customer knows and trusts personally
one of these proof sources is powerful but if you combine two or more you can
really differentiate yourself from your competition think of the various proof
sources you have for your product or service create a list of ideas that fall
into one or more of the previous categories now I want you to create a
strategy to create and communicate these proof sources to your potential customer
base keep these strategies in mind and you’ll have one more powerful tool in
your sales toolbox customers want to know three things once
they’ve decided to buy from you first that the solution will deliver what you
promised that’ll actually solve the problem second that you can implement it
effectively and on the agreed-upon timeframe and finally third that there’s
continuity of customer service throughout the relationship these
expectations may sound like complete common-sense but you’d be surprised how
many businesses don’t operate with high marks in all three areas let me give you
some ideas that will help you more effectively implement your solution
first create a system by which someone on the sales team is the quarterback of
the account they are the single point of contact throughout their relationship
they should know everything that’s happening and get regular reports from
delivery on how things are going they should also have regular check-in
meetings with a customer throughout the implementation to ensure satisfaction if
your business has salespeople that are simply hunters and then pass it off you
might think about a team approach by which an account manager is with the
salesperson every step of the way the second thing you can do is to
cross-train your delivery team on both customer service and sales then you can
cross train your sales team on delivery and customer service and finally cross
train your customer service team on sales and delivery this will create a
team environment and break down the silo mentality that I mentioned earlier
finally have a system of customer satisfaction meetings and surveys that
happen on a regular basis I would recommend monthly but quarterly at the
least the customer may not want to do these especially if things appear to be
going well but you should bake this into the proposal from the beginning see many
times a decision maker isn’t aware that a potential problem exists until it’s
too late then you have to try to involve as many hands-on people at the customer
side as possible to resolve it if you have a commodity or retail product your
focus should be on customer service as you likely don’t have a delivery team
per se but for all of us that work in the business-to-business space these
strategies are critical to seamless implementation and will set you up for
future sales within the same account and true customer
loyalty for life you
as humans we actually like routine the familiarity is actually a stress reducer
our anxiety in general is lower when we know what’s coming next and what to
generally expect if you really stop to think about it we have these routines
across nearly all aspects of our personal life from how we shower and get
dressed to how we prepare dinner to the homework and evening routine we have
with our kids we have these routines for a very specific reason we have found
that over time if we do certain things or certain behaviors in a certain order
we tend to get consistent and predictable results the actual
definition of process is a series of actions or steps taken in order to
achieve a particular end makes intuitive sense right however similar to the
previous lesson where we discussed our tendency to resist change
we like routine and process that we create ourselves but tend to resist the
routines or processes that we perceive someone else is making us do humans are
control freaks processes are typically no different the first reason is that it
helps create a consistent voice to the customer base
too many alone sales wolves on the street all with different ways of doing
things can create confusion to the marketplace and dilute the brand and the
overall credibility of the company the second reason is consistency of results
every great sales process should create great results your sales process is like
your game plan or your playbook once the players or the sales team understands
the playbook it should put your team in a winning position consistently a
doesn’t then parts of your process need to be evaluated and adjusted the third
reason is really no one has arrived as the perfect salesperson nope not even
you sorry as a result we know that everyone has room to improve and
everyone deserves a good coach when you have a clear sales process you and your
coach can better identify areas of improvement in your approach when you
think of elements of your sales process today what do you think is working well
what do you think needs to be improved remember there’s a reason why you wet
your hair before you shampoo it there’s a reason why you brush your teeth after
you eat and there’s a reason why following a clear and effective sales
process brings value to you and to your company essentially just like most competitive
sports sales has a series of activities that takes place prior to the sales call
then a sales call and then a series of activities that happen after the sales
call the elements of an effective sales process fall into one of these three
categories the first is the pre-sales activity which falls into two sub
categories planning and preparation in the planning phase you perform
activities such as prospect identification product research industry
research competitor research and call strategy in the preparation phase you
take the information you glean in the planning phase put it into a written
call plan clear objectives and goals create the appropriate presentation
materials and/or tools build the best stories anticipate customer objections
and practice for the call yes I said it practice the next stage is the customer
engagement stage this is where the planning and preparation get
demonstrated at game time customer engagement requires a process within the
process to maximize your results most sales processes have some form of in
call flow they recommend to the salespeople the one I teach that has had
incredible results for folks flows like this create connection followed by
identify and prioritize the issues followed by create credibility followed
by solving the problem you know this is the presentation portion followed by
handling any objections and an ends with gaining commitment in the next lesson
we’ll help you get more details behind how to put this model to work in your
sales process finally in stage 3 post sales activities is where we close the
loop on the process in this stage we do things like solution implementation
customer service and support gather customer feedback and get the feedback
from our manager or coach on what went well and how we can improve the next
call much like the presale stage we tend to
overlook many aspects of the post sale stage once we’ve gained a business the
reality is this stage is critical to your long-term customer loyalty and
results in significant increases in cross selling opportunities research
shows time and time again that is infinitely easier to sell to a current
happy customer than trying to bring on a brand new treat your customers
accordingly these are the three stages and the elements contained within a good
sales process in the next lesson you’ll begin to build your own or modify the
one you have for maximum impact in previous lessons we discussed the
importance of a sales process and the elements of a good one now you get to
take those elements and design a sales process that works for you
we will build this process around the three stages pre-sales activities
customer engagement and post sales activities as you build your pre sales
activity stage it’s important to be thinking about what knowledge and skills
you need that will support your actual sales call and give you the highest
likelihood of success make a list of things that you need to know about your
prospect details like title industry current solution provider maybe buying
cycle how did they engage with you or did you cold call them or maybe they
contacted you and some other way next test your own product knowledge how
well do you know the details of your solution and how it actually solves a
problem what do you still need to know who can you reach out to in your company
in order to understand it better how well do you know your competition make a
list comparing and contrasting your solution with theirs you should
understand their products as well as you understand your own now move into the
preparation phase do you have a written call strategy what are your objectives
for the meeting are they measurable what do you expect to happen after the
meeting what presentation materials do you need what stories do you plan to
leverage make a list of potential customer objections and create a story
to combat each one should they arise lastly once you’ve got all this
information in a clear and easy to access plan practice your call with a
coach or peer then review it again on your own visualizing the scenarios now
you’re ready for phase 2 as mentioned in a previous lesson we have found the
customer engagement stage works best when you follow a certain order
step 1 is create connection this goes beyond simply rapport building it
requires you to create an introduction story that shares who you are and why
you do what you do step 2 is to identify and prioritize the issues the customers
facing for more information refer back to the previous lesson on understanding
your customers issues next up we move into creating credibility this is where
you explain through a company’s story why you and your company are the most
credible to solve the problem from there you solve the problem by presenting your
solution think about creative ways to do this through stories and analogies and
engaging visuals don’t be boring and don’t be a data dumper when presenting
the solution using motion and story based techniques to maximize the
customers engagement from there you can address any objections the customer may
have but do so through narratives not facts don’t try to convince them that
their objection is unfounded simply walk them through a story that shows them
their fears are normal but don’t result in the worry that they currently have
lastly gain the commitment get them to decide the next step most people call it
closing but I teach folks not to close if you follow the framework I just laid
out by the end the customers should really close themselves if they don’t
you should reflect back on the steps and see where you might have missed an
opportunity now you’re on to building your last stage post sales activities
make a list of steps that clearly outline for the customer the
implementation steps simplify things as much as possible make it easy for the
customer to change to your solution next create a customer service contact and
resolution process so that you and your customer know exactly what to do should
they need help and exactly how each issue gets brought to resolution next
create a customer feedback questionnaire it shouldn’t be longer than 10 questions
with a mix of ratings and open-ended comments the last step in this stage is
to create an evaluation sheet for yourself your manager likely already has
but if they don’t create one and give it to your manager
ask them to periodically go on sales calls with you and use the sheet to give
you feedback afterwards similar to how athletes evaluate their performance on
the field the feedback from your manager is the game film we all need to review
that makes us better each and every call there you have it you now have a
complete framework for a great sales process once you apply the details for
you and your business you’ll be in great shape to knock your sales goals out of
the park you

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