Make proper 'Approach' to begin your journey

This week, I begin a seven-part series that will guide you through the seven steps of the Track Selling System, the foundation for "World Class Selling: The Complete Selling Process".

Throughout this series, I will use a fictitious company, "Happiness is Hawaii Tours" where "Gerri" is the travel agent (the salesperson) and "Dick" is the lucky vacationer (the prospect) wanting to take his family to Hawaii.

Remember, however, Track Selling's principles are effective at selling any product, service or idea to anyone, anywhere in the world. I just thought it would be nice to think about going to Hawaii!

You will find that following the seven steps of Track Selling in your sales calls will make sense. They intuitively lead you from one step to the next, easily and logically. As you begin to apply these steps in your presentations, you soon will feel the confidence that peak performers feel. Using them will help you to be more effective and successful.

Step One:

The Approach

Approach is just what it sounds like: Getting to know the prospect. Introducing yourself and establishing rapport. In fact, the first two steps of the Track Selling System -- approach and qualification -- are so important, they determine your success -- or failure -- later when closing the sale.

People buy from people they like. Thus, the major goal in the approach step is to help your prospects make a positive decision about you, the salesperson. Here are the elements to a strong introduction:

  • Greeting your prospect;
  • Calling your prospect by name;
  • Giving your own name;
  • Identifying your company;
  • Asking open-ended, rapport-building questions.

To help the prospect make this positive decision, remember these rapport-building points when meeting and speaking with them:

  • Smile;
  • Develop a genuine interest in the person;
  • Talk in terms of the other person's interests;
  • Use the other person's name;
  • Give compliments.

Many salespeople might consider these points so automatic, so obvious, they don't warrant any mention. Personal experience has taught me not to assume anything. I have been on sales calls with several salespeople who have forgotten to introduce themselves, their boss or me. Don't take these elements for granted, or the opportunity for a sale might be closed before it is ever opened.

I will provide sample dialogue you can follow to "see" each step in action. Again, our salesperson is Gerri from Happiness is Hawaii Tours. She is about to make her approach to her prospect, Dick, who had called the office earlier responding to a newspaper ad.

  • Dick: (Answering telephone) "Hello?"

    Gerri: "Hello, this is Gerri from Happiness is Hawaii Tours. I understand someone telephoned earlier to talk about a vacation in Hawaii for the Jacobson family. Is this Mr. Jacobson?"

    Dick: "Yes, it is."

    Gerri: "Mr. Jacobson, how can I help you with your vacation planning?"

    Dick: "We don't know very much about Hawaii, but we saw your ad in the paper and it sounded tempting. How much are your Hawaii tours?"

Gerri is off to a great start. Notice that right after her introduction, Gerri doesn't say much at all. She lets her prospect do the talking. Watch for this "quiet salesperson" approach as you follow the ongoing conversation, and remember, let your prospects do the talking. The more prospects talk, the more they will like you.

Additionally, the only time you know what a prospect is thinking is when they are talking. The best way to achieve this is to ask open-ended questions instead of closed-ended questions. Good open-ended questions often start with the words: who, what, when, where and how. Here are some examples:

Closed: Will you be taking a vacation this year?

Open: Where will you be vacationing this year?

Closed: Are you glad about that?

Open: How do you feel about that?

    You may want to give a sincere, honest compliment, then ask an open-ended question based on that subject:

    • You have got the perfect location for your plant. How did you manage to find this choice location?
    • Your title is impressive. What responsibilities does your job entail?

    Once your prospect starts talking, you should encourage them to continue with phrases such as:

    • "How did you do it?"
    • "What happened then?"
    • "Tell me more."

    Remember: People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.

    In an upcoming article, I'll analyze Step 2: Qualification.



    Roy Chitwood is an author, trainer and consultant in sales and sales management and is president of Max Sacks International, Seattle.