There are many laws of selling that are well known, but people rarely abide by them. Improving the use of even one can significantly improve results.
Among the laws are:
1. The more people talk, the more they like you.
I'm sure you've heard colleagues lament, "He's nice but he just talks too darn much."
But I doubt you've ever heard the opposite: "Darn, she's nice but just listens too much."
Most people, your prospects included, want to be heard and understood before understanding. Effective salespeople are listening 60 percent to 80 percent of the time, depending on the complexity of their offering. They accomplish this by becoming highly skilled at asking the right questions at the right times. View this need as a fundamental rule of communication.
2. A professional salesperson makes a sales call to be of service to the customer.
If you're making a sales call to meet quota, earn a higher commission, move the "special of the month" or any other reason not arising from your customers' true needs, it's time to check your integrity.
One of the main reasons selling has a negative public perception is too many salespeople sell for their reasons, not their customers' reasons.
3. A qualified prospect has the need, authority and budget to buy.
Ensure the person you're dealing with meets this criterion. If he or she doesn't, find out who does, or you're merely presenting, not selling -- which wastes money and time.
4. No one's born a salesperson.
Similar to every other profession, highly skilled sales professionals have studied and learned their trade. Much as a doctor, attorney or accountant isn't "born" neither is a salesperson.
Abandon this myth and learn your trade. Research reveals that regardless of age, race, gender or experience, a novice salesman with effective sales training can become as successful as his veteran counterpart.
5. What will it do for me?
If the definition of selling could be boiled down to a single sentence or question, this would be it.
Constantly put yourself in your prospects' shoes by asking this question. It will help you focus on their needs and the appropriate corresponding benefits.
6. People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.
Your prospect must believe that you will do everything possible that's in his or her interest. Without this trust, all the facts, figures and discounts don't mean anything.
Once you gain the prospect's trust, however, you become much more than a supplier -- you become a trusted counselor and partner not easily replaced, despite your competitors' lower price, supposed faster delivery and so on.
7. People buy emotionally and justify logically.
Contrary to what many salespeople believe, this reality actually works in your favor if you've done a thorough job of helping your prospect buy.
It's imperative that you reinforce your prospect's decision to buy with sound reasons for the purchase. If you allow your prospect to buy a new iMac computer because of the cool color -- without reinforcing the time savings, increased productivity and ease of use -- you might as well keep the shelf space open for the return.
8. Send thank-you letters.
Do this really need an explanation?
Send thank-you letters to anyone and everyone -- from the receptionist who set the appointment to each person present for your presentation. Short notes take a little time but show a lot of class. This professional courtesy can open an apparently closed opportunity.
9. Treat every person like the CEO.
It has been said that the true character of a person is revealed in how he or she treats someone who can do absolutely nothing for him or her. Nowhere is this truer than in selling. This makes good sense, because there's the rare possibility the receptionist will someday become CEO.
More likely, you'll encounter many employees who aren't decision-makers but quickly can become part of the decision-making process. You'd be surprised how many deals salespeople have lost by being rude or elitist.
10. Always ask whether anything has changed.
This simple question is imperative and helps minimize surprises. Never assume things are where you left off.
Asking this offers you protection and the opportunity to help the customer know you're working in his or her interest. You might discover the budget's been revised, there's a new time frame or, even that your prospect's company has been sold and all deals are off.
11. Set an objective for every call.
An objective is anything that keeps the sales cycle going -- making a presentation, sending additional information or scheduling a demo. Once the sales cycle halts, it's unlikely you'll get it moving again.
12. Discuss benefits, not features.
This law has become cliché during the past decade, yet most salespeople still don't apply it.
Consider this: There are more than 1 million half-inch drill bits sold annually, but people don't want half-inch drill bits. They want half-inch holes. Show your prospects the benefits of your product or service.
13. Sell value, not price.
Surveys reveal that price concerns often are as low as sixth in the order of importance of prospects. However, it's always one of the first objections raised.
If you're continually locked in price wars, you'll rarely win. You must demonstrate the value of your product or service.
14. Every prospect makes five buying decisions in precise psychological order.
The decisions are about:
- You, the salesperson, including your integrity and judgment.
- Your company.
- Your product or service.
- Your price.
- The time to buy.
Know these buying decisions, and tailor your presentation accordingly.
15. Every prospect buys for one, or more, of six buying motives.
Knowing and appealing to the motives will help motivate your prospect emotionally and logically, moving you closer to a sale. They are:
- Desire for gain.
- Fear of loss.
- Comfort and convenience.
- Security and protection.
- Pride of ownership.
- Emotional satisfaction.
Roy Chitwood is an author, trainer and consultant in sales and sales management and is president of Max Sacks International, Seattle.