This article was written by Dennis Wright, SCORE Orange County Management Counselor
“That guy could sell ice in the arctic”… “he can talk a blue streak”… “whata’ a salesman that guy would be” !
I heard those words often when recruiting to fill an open position on my sales team, but I wasn’t looking for the proverbial “blind squirrel who occasionally finds a nut” (makes a sale). I wanted someone who was a good listener, someone who possessed a quiet self confidence and was articulate… I wanted “distance runner”.
Why? Because experience had taught me there are basically two rules in selling that if followed dramatically improve results:
There are three stages in selling
There are four levels in selling
In this article I’d like to focus on the three stages in selling:
Sell your company
Sell your product or service
When calling on a potential customer, like it or not, first impressions matter. It’s in those first few minutes that he/she will decide if you’re someone they’d like to talk with. So, do some preliminary research; check out their website; become familiar with their business before you visit them, look your best and try to establish a non-business common interest quickly.
The next step is selling your company. By asking probing questions and listening carefully - that includes taking notes - you’ll learn who they’re buying from, what they think of that company and how they feel about the product or service. And since everyone likes a good listener you’ll be building on what you accomplished in “step one”. By the way, never make disparaging remarks about a competitor; it’s often perceived as a “cheap shot” and in a sense you’re telling that customer that he/she made a mistake when they chose that vendor. Just make sure they understand what your business can and will do (your strengths) to facilitate comparisons with your competitor’s shortcomings.
The last step is selling your product or program. You want to familiarize the potential customer with all that you have to offer, of course, but you don’t want to oversell or overstay your welcome. Once you have a commitment there will always be an opportunity to circle back and cover what you weren’t able to initially… and it’s important to do so.
Remember this, people generally won’t buy from a sales person they don’t like or who isn’t viewed as being credible, from a company they’re not sure of; not confident that it can deliver on the commitments made by it’s representative, and a product or service that doesn’t meet their need and most if not all of their wants. Refine both your approach and your presentation with these points in mind and you should do well.
A wise man once told me that successful selling is not a “sprint”; it’s a “marathon”.