The right to do business has to be earned and never assumed.
Rather than doggedly asking for business, the very best salespeople work to keep the relationship moving toward a sale. They realize the need to identify how to turn their company's products into real solutions, which must meet specific needs.
Unfortunately, our surveys confirm that the average salesperson drags the customer over old ground as much as 52 percent of the time. They are unable to provide continuous stimulation and never know when to treat an existing customer like a new one.
Conversely, exceptional salespeople make such "return" calls only 10 percent of the time. Above all, earning the right to proceed requires gaining the customer's trust, and top salespeople work diligently to establish a climate in which the customer is willing to share information and feels comfortable doing so. The key here is integrity.
Part of the Process
Customers are persuaded when they are part of the process and not part of the audience.
Sales success today demands a radical shift from the "peddler" mentality of merely demonstrating products and expanding on their features. It requires treating the customer as a participant. More often than not, a flashy sales presentation alone alienates rather than persuades.
The best salespeople regard the sales call as a two-way conversation - not a one-sided pitch. They have developed active listening skills. Average salespeople score fairly well in their ability to provide customers with facts and figures, but top performers dramatically outscore the rest when it comes to gathering information.
In addition, how a salesperson collects information still distinguishes exceptional achievers from the rest of the pack. Top performers ask better questions and, as a result, gain much better information. Essentially, they aim to engage customers in the buying process with questions that require thoughtful answers and stimulate curiosity. These questions reveal the customer's underlying needs.
A Fresh Approach to Selling
Many organizations have developed without objective analysis of their purpose and structure. The buying power in many industries is no longer evenly distributed - in a large number of markets, a few big firms control the majority of purchases.
The development of new marketing techniques has meant that some tasks traditionally performed by the sales team can be more effectively handled by other methods. The prime objective of all sales staff is to gain business.
From an organizational point of view, however, how they all achieve their goals must be defined in order to identify what kind and the quality of skills that are required.
Today's News: "In a single sentence, what's the best advice you can give us about succeeding in sales?" That's the question posed over at Dave Kurlan's excellent blog, and he received some very interesting responses, which you can view here
Tomorrow: Lots of preparation for a big week ahead; my good friend Keith Rosen launches his new book on Tuesday; we are heading towards the announcement of a brand new initiative - "To 100 Sales Gurus"; Top Sales Experts is being re-branded; the first edition of The JF Journal needs to be completed - so I might take a couple of hours off
As ever, wherever you are, have a great w/e and be sure to join me next week - JF
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