Super Sales - How You Can Make More Money
Whatever You Are Selling, Be At Ease With Product Knowledge
Super Sales Techniques!
Sales, Sales, Sales—How You Can Be The Best In Sales!
Here are my favorite "Ten Steps To Better Sales"
If you want to make good money at sales, then you want to make sure that you are doing everything right and nothing wrong. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Do everything right, do nothing wrong, and most people who read this will automatically say, “Well, I can’t think of anything I’m doing wrong.” Okay, if you are making millions of dollars annually, then I probably don’t have much to help you with, but if you are struggling to reach that seemingly elusive goal of greater financial security...keep reading.
Recently, I was attending a weekend trade show, and there was a man running a small booth right next to mine. I had the sadistic pleasure of watching this guy literally break every cardinal rule of sales. If the rules said, “Go up,” he went down. If the rules said “Go right,” he went left, it was that blatant. I could have written a book on just what I saw him doing wrong. He drove more people away in one day than he got leads from for the entire weekend. His methods were beyond pathetic, they were historically horrible.
If you got into sales just because you needed a job, and if you don’t respect the profession and strive to learn how to operate at a superior level of skill, you are going to be miserable, which, in turn, will show in your results.
You can very easily create a self-defeating cycle from which there is no escape. It is this simple: when you hate being in sales, you are going to be un-motivated, your customers are going to tolerate you at best, and your salary will never make you rich.
Here is the fork in the road, and you have to decide right here and now if sales is the right profession for you. If you plan on staying with it, then do everyone a favor and change that attitude. Learn to love sales. You will do your customers a great favor, and, most important of all, you will be rewarded greatly. And, you can learn to love sales, especially if you start seeing bigger paychecks.
When you go to buy a house, you want the real estate agent to assist you. When you go to buy a car, you want the car salesperson to assist you. In fact, when you go to most stores, at some point, you start looking for someone in sales to help you. Why, then, is it beneath your dignity to give that same professionalism to what you do? Everybody looks up to professionalism, so if you are more professional, your customers are going to show their respect by choosing you over other competing sales people.
If you are better at what you are doing, then your paychecks are going to be better, as well. It really is that simple. Remember this: If the profession of sales was not worth it, there would be no one in the profession. Obviously, when I see sales people making $75,000, $150,000, $250,000, $450,000 annually, it shows me that people can make great money in sales, and those salaries that I just mentioned are common. Do some people make much more? You bet, but I am just concentrating here, for the purposes of this article, on the average sales professional, and for these people, the salaries that I just mentioned are totally within reach. Imagine if you could just double what you currently make, and do so without having to resort to some of the intelligence-insulting gimmickry that is used by some companies. If the thought of doing that perks you up, then keep reading. I honestly believe that, if you utilize the techniques I include in this article, you should see greater results.
Why do some people look like they are having a great time while selling? Because they genuinely are. It’s really that simple. Who wouldn’t be happy making a great income? They have found a job where they are not limited to just what some employer wants to pay them per hour. They can set the income bar higher, and they can end up making more money than a typical forty-hour-per-week employee makes at a desk job. In sales, there is no limit to how much money you can make. In a regular hourly-wage job, you are limited to exactly what that forty hours pays each week. That is all you will make. This is why super-sales people make such good incomes; they have not limited themselves by the restraints imposed by others. In other words, if they could work a forty hour week for $20 per hour and make $800 per week sitting at a desk somewhere, the super sales person knows that they can make that much in a day or even an hour, so why limit themselves? Sound preposterous? It’s not.
I worked for a car dealership for a time, and one of our salesmen routinely made $150,000 annually. I have seen car salesmen who were making $250,000 annually, and this is just one sector of sales. There are people who are making less, and there are people making millions annually. Part of that result depends on what you are selling. Sell oil rigs, and I bet you’ll make more money than selling door-to-door magazine subscriptions. Kind of a no-brainer, isn’t it? But, the point I am making right up front is simple—if you want to make more money than you are currently making, and you are in sales, there are ways to improve and enjoy greater success.
My List Of Guaranteed Sales Results Techniques
Before I begin my list of techniques, one item needs to be discussed, and that is this, you need to respect your profession. If you don’t respect your profession, it is going to show more than you realize. Now, if you are selling burial plots, you took the job just to make ends meet, and you are miserable, find another product to sell. But, it could also be that you hate your product, because you have not been making good sales. Let’s ask this question.
If you could make more money selling what you are selling right now, would you still want to move to another field?
Before you answer that question, if you have a horrible boss, if the work environment at your company is a nightmare, then, yes, by all means try to find a better place to work. But, I am assuming that you work for a company where life is NOT a daily nightmare. Granted, the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, and once you start working for a company, you see all the warts you did not notice when you were interviewing. That will be something for another article. For now, I am going to assume that you enjoy where you work, but you just are not making great sales. So, back to my question, if you could make more money selling what you are selling right now, would you still want to move to another field? If the answer is yes, then start moving and stop reading. Now, for all the rest of you, here is the path to making greater sales and lots more money.
Lose The Ego
Step 1: Lose The Ego - The first thing you have to learn when making better sales closing rates is this simple mantra - Lose the Ego. One of the horrible things I saw this guy at the trade show do was lose a sales lead, because he got into an argument with the customer. I wanted to ask him, “Which is more important to you, winning an argument, or making a sale?” Ask yourself, which of these makes for a bigger paycheck? A no brainer, but there he was arguing with the customer. In less than five minutes, he had found that man’s hot button, pushed it, then never retreated. His ego demanded that he be respected for the great salesman that he thought himself to be. In fact, later that weekend, he bragged to me that he was the top salesman with his company. I politely smiled and offered no comment, but I thought to myself, “If you are their best, I would hate to meet their worst.” It all began when he made an unnecessary comment that tripped him up, and rather than let it go when the customer caught it, he kept going. He should never have made the comment in the first place, but he did, and now he was going to back it up by digging the hole deeper. He should have simply told the customer that he spoke without thinking, and that he had made a mistake. But, no, that would have meant coming down from his self-inflated ego perch, and he thought that he was smarter than the customer anyway (I can tell you, that assessment was wrong!). So, he began to offer explanations that did not stand up to scrutiny, and, thus, opened a real can of worms. The customer then began to ask obvious questions based on the discrepancies coming out of the salesman’s mouth, and the hole just kept getting deeper. Then the salesman tried to change course, but the customer smelled a rat and kept pouncing on the obvious contradictions. Within five minutes, the customer was angrily saying, “Well, I would never do business with your company in the first place.” To which the salesman added, “Fine.” Off walked the customer, and there sat the “super-salesman” smug in his ego, stupidly thinking that he had just won, because he had had the last word.
I would rather have had the last word being, “Thank you for your business. I look forward to working with you.” That pays my bills.
Your ego can cost you more sales than you realize.
Getting rid of ego takes daily practice, because we are all human, and we all have our personal hot buttons that people can push, unintentionally or intentionally. Intentionally pushing our hot buttons is the one that gets to us the quickest. It is one thing for a person to accidentally push your hot button, and for that, you will most likely try to forgive and overlook the error. But, when a person intentionally goes there, you want to ring their neck. Same button, two different ends. Why is that? Because one is taken as a personal attack on all that you think of yourself as being. You don’t consider yourself stupid, and a person has just intentionally made you look stupid. You don’t consider yourself dishonest, and a person has just intentionally questioned your integrity. And on and on it goes, each hot button has an owner.
But, keep this in mind, your ego never paid you a dime. Your ego never put a dollar in your bank account.
Someone had to give you that dime, someone had to give you that dollar. And what did you have to do to earn it? Did you get paid for insulting them? Not very likely. My mother used to say, “You win more bees with honey than you do with vinegar.” Put into sales context, "You win more sales with praise than you do with insults." No matter how stupid, arrogant, insulting or impugning a customer is to you, as one old-timer once taught me, “Let your brain think all it wants to, but don’t let it cross your lips.” So, if you can take any insult as unintentional, as not directed at your perception of self, even laugh out loud at it, then you have already begun to win the battle. The same self-control you have when a hot button is pushed unintentionally, that is the beginning of learning how to not get angry at anybody, no matter what they say, and once you have begun to explore this concept of losing your ego, then you no longer have to engage in arguing with a customer just to save your self-perceived view of your own worth. Your own worth never really diminishes. The only thing that changes is what you do with that self-perception. If you are secure, then a customer who is an idiot cannot drive your image of self-worth. And if you still need revenge, just remember that the greatest revenge is taking their money.
Get The Customer To Like You
Step 2: Get The Customer To Like You - The first thing you want a customer to do is like you.
If a customer likes you, they will listen to you.
You need time to sell the product, and if a customer does not like you, the clock is ticking, and the more they do not like you, the more they are pushing the hands on that clock. The more time you get to spend with a customer, the better your chances of selling. That is a proven statistic, not one that I have made up. A lot of money went into research by renowned companies that trained me with the results of that research, and you are getting those results for free with this sales guide. One major company found that a thirty-minute, a sixty-minute, and a ninety-minute presentation was incrementally more successful, with the lowest closure rate going to the thirty-minute presentation, and the highest closing rate going to the ninety-minute presentation. Is it possible to make a sale within thirty minutes? Of course, but, what these statistics demonstrated was simple—taking the time to cover all the bases made for the best sales stats, better closing rates and more money. Thus, the first step in getting that much-needed time with the customer is getting them to like you. If they like you, they are going to listen to you, and that is the second step in my list of super sales techniques. Let’s make the idea simple. Do you think you could do well selling if all your customers hated you? Doesn’t take much thought to come up with the appropriate answer to that question. Being shown the door is not the key to success. You would much rather have customers opening their doors to you. The secret is charm. Don’t you think you would make more sales if all your customers liked you? Of course. So, how do you get customers to like you? And here comes the next item on the list—charm.
Step 3: Develop Charm - What is “charm.”
Charm is defined as the power of delighting or fascinating; attractiveness.
Now, the first items to having charm are the most obvious. Here are a few of them. You should dress for the occasion. Are you selling cars? Then do you think you should be standing there facing your customer with a pair of worn jeans? How about a pair of sneakers that look like you’ve been wearing them for ten years? Ask yourself this, was there ever a person who impressed you greatly when you were shopping? If you can think of someone who impressed you with their appearance, imagine if you could do this for your customers. And, you can. The same person who impressed you had to learn that entire presentation somewhere. They weren’t born with it. Polishing our personal appearance is a learned process, and the better we get, the more we earn. So, the first thing about the “charm offensive” is to look at your appearance, then dress for success.
Don’t let anyone who knows you put a damper on this improvement by saying such things as, “Who do you think you are?”
The answer to that is not what “they” think of you, but what "you" are going to start thinking about yourself. If you believe in yourself, the charm effect of that becomes obvious. So, let no one stand in the way of your quest for self-improvement, and dressing for success is one of those steps. You don’t have to go broke shopping for a wardrobe. Just make sure that your clothes are neat and clean.
Check your face before you engage with the customer. Nothing is more embarrassing than to find that the entire time you were speaking with your customer, you had food on your mouth... or something worse ( the nose comes to mind). An occasional check in the mirror goes a long ways. Bad breath is unavoidable at times, it just happens when it does, but it is totally inexcusable to offend your customer with it. Breath mints are inexpensive. Keep them handy. Even if you don’t think your breath has gone bad, trust me, you’ll be the last one to know. One part of charm is being able to say “Hello” without watching a smile instantly fade. And never, never wear too much perfume or cologne. You may think everyone loves your fragrance, but a customer is NEVER the one on whom you want to test that theory. Along with a neat and clean appearance is our use of language. Just as some parents teach their children that there is a time for the indoor voice and a time for the outdoor voice, meaning, no yelling in the house, there is a place for street language, and it is most definitely NOT in front of your customers. You are the professional by whom they want to be charmed.
In this day and age, virtually no matter what product you are selling, there is a competitor selling the same thing, and customers today will usually have two or three other representatives giving them sales presentations for the very same product.
Think of it as a princess being courted by suitors. Which suitor is she going to pick? Why, Prince Charming, of course! Were you charming or crude? Really, the sales person who does the best with charm is going to win. I know, you are going to say, “What if their price is cheaper?” Yes, if your competitor offers to beat your price, it does make it harder for you to compete, but not impossible to beat them. I have sold to clients who knew that I was charging more money than my competitor, and I still won the contract. How? I had the one thing the other guy didn’t have– you guessed it, charm.
So, you have checked your appearance, you are dressed properly, your face is clean, your grooming is up to snuff, but there is more to creating charm still. I mentioned language as one of the ingredients of charm, and that means that you drop all street language. People do not look up to someone who is skilled in the latest “jargon.”
You are asking a person to invest their hard-earned money in you, and for that, they want a certain quality. That quality is called trust, and they will never fully trust someone who does not speak in a professional manner.
So, if your language is filled with slang, then you had better start listening to some newscasters on CNN. Their diction will be spot on. Why? Because they are professionals, just like you are supposed to be. Thus, another ingredient of charm is getting your language skills in order. To do less than that is pure laziness. You can talk like a rapper all you want to...when you are in your own home. But, if you are going to sell, you have to excel.
Charm has many ingredients, some of which I have just listed, but that is merely the beginning. Selling is really a seduction, of sorts. A guy going out to a nightclub is looking for one thing, and in order to better his chances of obtaining that one “thing,” he is going to be looking in the mirror more than once before he leaves his home. He will also have a certain air about him while in the club. Why does a successful playboy have a bunch of women hanging on him, and a “wallflower” is ignored and ends up leaving the club the same way he came in—alone?
An air of confidence adds to the complete package we call charm. Part of the confidence that leads to greater sales is brought about by believing in yourself.
One part of believing in yourself is from building your own self-esteem, and the other part is product knowledge. When a guy looks in the mirror and likes what he sees, he is ready for that nightclub. You have to be able to look in the mirror and like what you see. That is the first half of self-confidence. The other half is knowing your product so well, that a customer cannot stump you with any questions. Therefore, study your product until you know everything there is to know about it. Does this mean bore your customer with endless displays of trivia? Absolutely not! That is ego, and you already know what I have said about ego. However, that is the second half of the charm equation - ego...your customer’s ego.
Find Something About The Customer To Like
Step 4: Find Something About The Customer To Like - To illustrate this point, I will go back to that trade show that I was attending. The salesman at the booth next to mine had just gotten this one elderly gentleman so angry, that they were throwing insults at each other, and the parting words of the angry customer were extremely hostile. The customer was obviously angry, his face still red from rage, and my booth was right there with this customer not more than five feet away.
As he began to walk past me, two thoughts were present in my mind. One was this - that clown of a salesman had just ruined a perfect opportunity for me, because he now had this man blind with rage, so blind that he was not even going to stop at my booth. The other thought was this - I am going to use all of my years of professional training to turn this disaster into a success!
Here was an angry, elderly man proceeding past my booth in haste, and within two to three seconds, he would be history, my chance lost forever. The last thing he wanted to do right now was to have some “salesman” trying to pitch a product to him. He needed time to get his blood pressure back down, and he was going to do that by NOT listening to any salesman for quite a while. So, what did I do? Charm! I looked at everything that man had on him to find something that I could compliment. Well, he was not dressed like a millionaire, in fact, he was wearing a baseball cap and rather plain clothes. But, there was a logo on the front of the hat, the letters for a major university, and I said the name of the university out loud, as if I was amazed to see the logo. He turned and looked at me - silent, still somewhat angry, but someone had just appealed to his ego. Could it be that he had actually gone to this university? If so, this would be appealing to his ego, because a person’s university is something of pride. He stared at me, and I took another shot. Putting my best “I am interested” look on my face, I said with amazement, “Are you an alumnus?” He smiled. Ah, it was all beginning to turn around, and the dance had begun. He turned his body toward me, a good signal, and he proudly said, “I taught there.” Now, my amazement was real. Here was an educated man, someone who expected professionalism, which he did not get at the booth next to mine, and I had already gotten my foot in the door by showing respect. Thus, for the next few minutes, we ONLY spoke about HIM. I did not switch gears and suddenly say, stupidly, “Hey, how about buying what I am selling?”
For those who know how to drive a manual gear shift automobile, it goes without saying that you don’t start out in fourth gear. First gear is called first gear for a reason, and that is where I was with this gentleman. My next question should be obvious to those of you who are bright. “You taught at the university! What was your subject?” I asked in all sincerity. He approached my booth, and we began a lively discussion of his history at the university. I listened - he spoke.
Listen to your customers.
I asked questions - he spoke more. Study the example of Scheherazade and the “1001 Arabian Nights.” To brief the unenlightened, she was given one night with the sultan, who would have had her killed the next day, as was his custom, but on that fateful night, she devised a plan. She would tell the most incredible story to the sultan, and she would leave it with such a cliffhanger ending just as the sun was coming up, that the sultan would let her live another night just so that he could hear the ending of the story, which, of course, led into another story of equal intrigue. Paraphrasing, she kept this up for 1001 nights, and the sultan finally relented of killing young ladies and let her live. The parallel here is simple. This angry gentleman was the sultan, and I had to pull a Scheherazade to win his favor. So, after some discussion, I found that this man wearing a baseball cap was actually financially well-off, owned a company, and had need of some of the products my company was selling. I sold him, and, with a warm and appreciative handshake, he smiled and was on his way. Had I been spiteful, I would have turned to the clown sitting there at the booth next to me and said something like, “That’s how you do it.” Of course, I did not do that. Ego. Remember what I said about that. Gloating would be ego. Practice daily getting rid of ego, and practice, instead, all the ingredients of obtaining charm.
Finding something about your customer to like will earn you lots of sales. Maybe you hate fat people, and there your customer is - a big, fat elephant, the kind you abhor. Remember, you are not here to have sex with your customer. You are not here to live with your customer. You are here to represent your company and your product. So, to help you like your customer, find something about your customer that you can like. There has to be something. Maybe they have a pet that is cute. Compliment the pet. Doing so is music to their ears, because every person who has a pet that they love thinks of that pet as part of the family, an extension of themselves. If you’re not a pet lover, be nice to the pet, and focus on something else that you can compliment. It can be a beautiful painting on the wall (even if it is not beautiful to you—guess what, it is to them?). Look around quickly and find something that you can compliment. Once you have done that, you have suddenly been elevated to “welcome.”
Until that customer starts liking you, you are still an invader in their domain.
If you are not making in-home sales, and you are perhaps working the counter of a store, you still can find something to like about your customer. With practice, you will get so good at this, that you can spot a lady’s pair of earrings, her necklace, purse, or even a pair of shoes, and you can compliment them with sincerity. The same will go for a man’s watch, his sweater or jacket, or anything else that he is wearing.
The bottom line, if you compliment your customer, they are going to listen to you. And, when they smile, you are going in the right direction.
If The Customer Likes You, They Are Going To Listen To You
Step 5: If The Customer Likes You, They Are Going To Listen To You - If you cannot get a customer to listen to you, you are wasting your time. Large companies spend millions of dollars trying to find ways to get customers to listen. When it comes to radio and television ads, they have to find ways to make you listen, because they do not have the advantage that you have, and that is speaking to the customer in person.
There is no greater winning effect than to look a person in the eyes and sincerely compliment them.
Granted, this part of my winning sales techniques requires practice. Start small, and never get to the point where you are obvious and groveling.
Compliments are like perfume—no good if overdone.
Think of how you feel when someone compliments something you have done, and that is one quality about you that your customer may not be able to put their finger on, but they will tell everyone that you were an exceptional person, someone they liked and want to do business with again. So, practice trying to find at least one thing about your customer that you like, then compliment them on that very same thing. It will open more doors than you can ever imagine.
And never forget, this sale is all about your customer and nothing about you. Don’t talk about yourself.
Remember? Ego? It is one thing to answer a question about yourself, but politely get back to making your customer the focus of attention.
Know Your Product Well
Step 6: Know Your Product Well - You have finally gotten the undivided attention of your customer. Now, it is time to segue into selling the product. With a little practice, you will learn how to shift gears and get on with the job at hand—selling. Up till now, you have been selling yourself. Now, it is time to sell the product. Nothing is worse than not being able to answer the questions of the customer.
If you don’t know your product, then you begin to lose credibility, and the worst thing you can do is to make up answers.
First of all, making up facts is going to cost you legally, so I won’t even waste time discussing that realm. Suffice it to say, no matter how well you know your product, there may come a time when a customer asks a question that you simply do not know the answer to, and you come out a winner when you own up to the fact that you do not have the answer. But, don’t just leave it there. When a customer asks you a question that you have no answer for, simply say, “You know, you are the first customer to ever ask me that, and that shows that you do your homework. I am glad you do that, because you would not believe how many customers I meet with who do not do their research and end up being taken by unscrupulous people. Since I would never lie to my customers, let me ask when I get back to the office, and I will call you with what I find.” Then, by all means, get that information to your client that day.
You will find their respect for you is increased, not diminished, and all because of your honesty, and because of your attention to their needs.
Their question was a need, no matter how small it may have seemed to you, and your getting an answer to it will go a long ways in closing the deal and beating out your competitors. This little exercise shows two things, that you are honest and can be trusted, and that you genuinely care. That is worth gold.
Listen To Your Customer
Step 7: Listen To Your Customer - Don’t get so involved with chatting and being friendly, that you forget to ask the right questions. Because you know your product, you should know every aspect of it, and you can then ask the customer questions that narrow down the search. For example, if I were selling cars and trucks at a dealership, I would ask the customer the following questions: "Were you looking for a car, or a truck?" "Are you looking for new, or pre-owned?" "Did you have any particular models in mind?" What you are doing with each of these questions is avoiding a three-hour walk through the car lot while the person learns where your inventory is parked and where each choice is located. You can really get worn out, if you let the customer take the lead. Who wants to go on a shopping spree that lasts for several hours, and may not even end up in a purchase?
You should always be leading the customer to the next level. You should always be in charge, even though the customer thinks they are.
Having said that, I can tell that there are extremes of not letting a customer have some joy in looking at cars on your lot. I once went to a major car dealer to look at a Lincoln Towncar, and I was never permitted to so much as see a physical vehicle. Instead, the fast-talking salesman guided me skillfully into his office and proceeded to narrow down what I was looking for, even though I, personally, was not sure yet. Then, he proceeded to try to qualify me by ascertaining my credit worthiness, my ability to pay, and “how much car I should land on.” I grew more furious with each passing minute when it became obvious that I was never going to get to go look at cars on the lot. After nearly an hour of his horse nonsense, I got up and walked out in a major huff, raising my voice intentionally as I crossed the showroom. I wanted everyone to hear that I was extremely agitated. I left, went a short ways down the road and bought a Lincoln Towncar from another dealership the same day.
No matter who is teaching you, no matter who is your boss, if you do not watch the face of your customer when you are “following orders,” you are a fool.
Listening to your customer means watching their faces and their body language, because they will tell you when you are going down the wrong lane. When that starts to happen, either you back off, or you are heading into a no-return disaster.
I remember one dealership where the manager was a major micro-manager. What his actions said to the staff is that they were all incompetent without his non-stop, micro-managing. I had a customer who was extremely psychologically introverted to the point of having difficulty being around men. I worked very hard to get her to relax and feel at ease in my company. After all, I was going to have to take her for a test drive in the vehicle, and that alone was going to be a major hurdle. But, I won her over, and I was proceeding to the closing, when my boss decided it was time to enter the picture and roil the waters. He stopped me from doing what I had planned, the timing that I was working through, and he inserted a demand that I stop what I was doing and immediately get in the car right that minute with her and take her for a test drive. My way of easing her into a test drive was to eventually take the car to her father’s house where she wanted to show him the vehicle. I had eased her mind with that notion, but the idea of just the two of us riding to somewhere else drew an immediate and hostile response...which I expected. She snapped, her face went red, and she was just getting ready to explode when I began profusely apologizing for the change of plans. It took the near intervention of God to get me back on the smooth road with her, all because this manager thought too highly of himself to trust the wisdom of one of his subordinates. He had never met the woman, he had never interacted with her, but he was going to call the shots from a distance, all because his routine was sacrosanct. Let me say right here and now, managers, you need to learn to let go at some point and trust that you either have a professional salesman, or you don’t. And if you don’t, then in the middle of a sale is not the time to experiment.
To the salesmen who find that management stands in the way of your ability to sell, time to look for another company. When management cannot see the skill in the salesman, and they keep coming up with ways to lay stumbling blocks in the way of your success, why are you staying there?
Regarding that incident, I miraculously managed to get back into that young lady’s graces and made the sale. My boss nearly cost me an eight-hundred dollar commission, and for that, I went and interviewed with another dealership. Two weeks later, I was working for a new company... and VERY happy.
So, listen to your customer, and ask the right questions. Suppose you are selling windows. Ask them, “Have you looked at any brands or other choices?” This is the best lead in question, because they will usually tell you how much homework they have put into the search already. Now, you know what you are competing against, and when you have this information...
you had better know the competing brands, what they offer, and how good their products are.
For example, suppose they tell you that they are looking at company X, and you know that this company only gives a ten-year warranty on their product, when your brand offers a lifetime warranty. One line I have used in this situation is this one: “Why pay more money for an inferior product that only has a ten-year warranty, when you can pay less money for a superior product that gives you a lifetime warranty? Simple math, wouldn’t you agree?” Now, I have their attention. One gentleman told me that he had an estimate given to him by a competing firm for twenty-five windows. The price was $50,000.00! I was stunned. I immediately said, “Sir, why don’t you buy a superior window for less money and pocket the difference?” He looked at me in disbelief, but obviously asked me to elaborate on that thought, which, of course, was my segue into my sales delivery for the product line I was selling. The window I was selling had superior testing ratings, cost considerably less, and whereas the competitor’s brand had only a ten-year warranty, my brand had a lifetime warranty. You can see where this led. He definitely was NOT going to go with the other company now. Certainly makes life easier when you know your competition.
However, never insult another company or another brand, even if the customer wants to and does so in your presence.
Knocking the competition makes you look cheap, untrustworthy and non-credible.
There are ways to knock the competition and not get caught. Here’s how. Assume that the customer has already done their homework, has had two other bidders in before you, and they have had a sales presentation of all the benefits of the other brands. Good. They now know that the other brand offers x, y and z, and you come along with a better product, because you know the weaknesses of the other brands. Back to windows. Let’s say that the other company does not cover breakage, and your brand does. Here’s a good opening line: “You know, there are companies that will charge you so much money for their windows, yet they are not even willing to back their product. Can you imagine that? Our brand is so confident in their quality that they even cover your windows in case of breakage.” Now, you have just knocked the competition without ever having to name them. You have not lost any credibility, you don’t look cheap, and you have maintained your integrity. And all you had to do was carefully and skillfully demonstrate the defects of the competing brand and the virtues of yours...without naming the competitors. Remember, in most cases, the competitor has already visited, and if they have not yet, you have still planted the seed. Of course, you cannot do that if you do not study your competitors.
Know your competition, know their faults and know when to play them like aces in a poker hand.
Equally important, be excited about your product. If you are not, then why should your customers be?
A Little Humor Goes A Long Way
Step 8: A Little Humor Goes A Long Way - Would you enjoy seeing an undertaker knocking on your door? Why not? Possibly because their profession means that their arrival doesn’t harbinger a pleasant visit. Undertakers are good people, but their business does not give them, nor you, a lot to smile about. Are you an undertaker? Stupid question, but...
...when you arrive, what does your customer see that is any different from that of an undertaker?
Two things that are vital when you greet the customer: Know and say their name, and, smile.
There is nothing more endearing to a person than their own name. That is human nature. You want to get a person’s undivided attention, say their name with respect. And if you want to add icing to the cake, say it with a pleasant smile. Remember, if you were the customer, and someone came to your door, what would put you at ease and in a welcoming mode the quickest: a somber expression and saying their name as if your were with the police? Or, smiling, introducing yourself and asking, “Are you Mr. or Mrs. Smith?” How you greet your customer sets the pace for what follows.
Friendliness wins more points than stiff and formal...
but, remember this, too...
Become one with your customer.
What does that mean? If your customer is informal and extremely casual, do not become too formal; and if your customer is extremely formal and courteous, do not act too casual. You always have to maintain a solid balance that matches your customer to some degree. However, I don’t know of a single person who never likes to laugh, and if you can forget your ego, a little self-deprecating humor can really help build a bond. I have had more customers tell me their deepest secrets, all because they immediately sense a non-pretentious, caring, compassionate and sympathetic person in me. And that is no act. I really DO care about my customers as human beings first, and that comes across in a very big way. I have won more sales against my competitors, all because I simply cared. I can make fun of myself, like if my glasses are no help in reading a line, and I will say something like, “Okay, Brian is getting older. Time for new glasses.” They can relate, and it makes me that much more human. Nobody wants to deal with someone who is so perfect, stiff and formal, that they feel like you are wearing starched underwear the entire time you are there. Practice little ice breakers. For instance, it is raining, cold and nasty outside, and when I get inside the house, I will grin and say something like, “What a beautiful day out there. All that sunshine and balmy breezes. Don’t you just love it?” They laugh, smile, and all of a sudden, I’ve taken the tension down a notch and have made my hosts feel like I am friendly and fun. Keep that attitude going.
Get The Customer To Believe In You
Step 9: Get The Customer To Believe In You - If you have done everything I have told you this far, then by now, the customer should pretty much believe in you.
You have demonstrated honesty, integrity, understanding, caring and compassion. That will most definitely set you apart from the brash, intelligence-insulting, smart-ass sales people who are in no short supply these days with their “routines” taught to them by high-pressure outfits out to rape the public at all costs.
These people represent the scum of the sales profession, and there are few customers who do not see through their false professionalism. They are con-artists, at best, with the compassion of the Devil. Maybe they make a lot of money over a short period of time, but they eventually get burned out, and they eventually run out of suckers. I’ve known of a few companies that used this routine; then, when their reputation began to stink, they simply changed their name and started the game all over again.
Repeat business is king, and if you leave your customer feeling taken advantage of, you will have no repeat business.
Don’t give in to the hucksters and shysters that are profligate in the sales profession. Carve a reputation that builds with time. You are building dividends with each happy customer. Your repeat customers will not only save your future, but so will their recommendations.
Customers talk, and they will tell at least ten other people about their experience with you.
Make it a great one. Finally, if your customer believes in you, they are going to buy from you. Keep everything honest, caring and credible.
Step 10: Follow Up - After all that you have done, there will come times that the customer will not purchase that day. For whatever reasons, and there are many, they are going to ask for time to make their decision, and you can either become a pest and ruin any future you had with this customer, or you can graciously back off and wait. But, waiting does not mean forgetting. As soon as you get back to your office, you should put together a letter (preferred, because people love receiving letters), or at the very least, an email, and in that correspondence, you should do several things. First, always thank them for considering you and your company. Mention in that thank you how important their project is. If you are selling curtains, tell them that you realize that this is an important project for their “lovely” home.
By complimenting them, you have shown that you are worthy of doing business with, because you have made yourself, subliminally, an ally, a partner in their quest for their improvement project.
Secondly, let them know that you are there for them if they have any question. I always write, “If you should have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.” This is a subliminal. By telling them that they have your permission to contact you, you have opened the doors to being permitted to return that favor. Thus, when you call them on the phone to follow up, they will not be upset. After all, didn’t you invite them to do the same with you? How could they be upset with you for being friendly? So, after your letter has been sent, within three days, at the latest, call them by phone and ask them if they have any questions, and if there is anything you can do to help them move forward with this project. Note those words “...move forward.” They are subliminal, in that they get the customer thinking about making the purchase and getting the project done, without you having to grovel and ask, “Would you like to buy?” You see, you never want to ask a customer a question that really can be answered with a “yes” or “no” and leaves it there. Open-ended questions allow for you to continue the thought, and while this one can be answered with a “yes” or “no,” it still allows you to plant the seed of “You need to make a decision and move forward with your project. Let’s do this now.”
As soon as you know that they have received your letter or email, then time it with a phone call a day later. To call the same day that they receive your correspondence is dunning and making a pest of yourself. They may be friendly on the phone, but they will be muttering under their breath as they hang up. Some sales people have no shame. Don’t be one of those. You are in it for the long haul, not the “scorched Earth, rape, pillage and plunder” mentality displayed by the carpetbaggers who are in it for the quick haul and end up changing professions in less than a year. Think long-term. Finally, keep notes on every customer. Note when you visited, when you send correspondence, and when you called. Time your contacts so that you don’t exhaust the customer. If they stop taking your calls, or you have not gotten a response to your correspondence, you can pretty much assume that you got the boot. But, keep all those addresses. You can send out friendly letters, even Christmas cards, thanking them for their patronage and reminding them that you are available should they need your services in the future. Also, even if you type your letters, they will have more effect if you hand-write something on there as a post-script. And if you don’t think follow-ups are useful, I will leave with this incident. I followed up with a customer, and he had several bids, but I was the only one who called him back. Guess who got the sale? And it was a big one, too.
Forget the customer—they will forget you.
Follow all of the techniques I have written about here, and in closing, these are a few more things to remember.
It goes without saying that you have to know when to ask for the sale, and don’t be afraid to.
I remember watching one young car salesman who had never sold a car in his life, and was now being given the opportunity to run through the sale with no one shadowing him. He must have talked with those poor customers for three hours. They talked about movies, celebrities, the news and God only knows what else. Why? Because he kept waiting for them to pop the question. The question? “Can we buy your car?” And they keep waiting for him to do his job.
You see, when people shop, in many cases, they want you to take the lead and guide them all the way to purchasing.
You, therefore, have to be a professional, confident guide who says, “I think you are making a great choice. Would you like me to get things ready for you so that we can move forward with this for you?” Notice, I have said the magic (and subliminal) words “for you” twice. You are there for them, and this shows that you are doing this for them, not for you, even though we know that you are making the sale for yourself. The customer has to believe that you are there for their needs, acting on their behalf and in their best interests. Your language should reflect that. Other subliminals help, like avoiding the use of the word “thousands” when quoting prices. When at all possible, read it as a number. $29,875.00 becomes, “That’s just twenty-nine, eight-seventy-five.” And the word “just” is appropriate at the right moments.
With practice, you can learn to insert things like the psychological tool called “fear of loss,” the ability to make a person think that they don’t have a lot of time to act before a price goes up. With time and practice, you will learn how to employ the “fear of loss” without being insulting and obvious. You will also learn how to create a “call to action,” by simply telling the person that this is really a great time to get on board. Practice wording some genuine reasons in advance that are convincing calls to action, and have them at the tip of your fingers, ready to drop into the conversation. If you have been in sales for a while, all of these techniques should enhance what you are already doing. There is much more that I could add, but why get lengthy? A sales person knows when enough is enough. Don’t bore your customers by overstaying your welcome.
Happy selling. I hope you make millions.