I had a call the other night from someone who obviously was in high sales mode. He asked me how I was (right there I knew this was a sales call and put me on guard), making small talk and small jokes (get to the point already…my time is valuable), then moved into a spiel followed with a question to insinuate that I must be a moron if I didn’t feel as he did and want to remedy ‘the problem’ that he didn’t even know if I had. When I said ‘no thank you,” it was followed with, ‘well, Kathy, I understand your hesitation but I can’t believe you are not taking advantage of this offer. So tell me, Kathy, how are you going to feel when the rest of your friends are all enjoying this and you are not?” Actually, I’m going to feel just fine. Never been a sheep. And then when I again replied, “no thank you; I hear what you are saying but I’m really not interested, ” the response: Well, I don’t think you realize how much you need this, Kathy, and I’d like to explain to you why you do.
Wait. You are telling me what I need and never even asked me anything to find out what my needs were? You have made small talk and jumped right into you should buy this because you need this mode. You are talking a mile a minute, without even asking me about me…my wants, my needs, how I view the product. You are simply making the decision for me and expecting me to say “Oh yes, please, let me sign on the dotted line…actually I’ll take 10 of them!”
Corporate sales has now been called by most teams corporate partnerships, and it’s being done so for a reason. We are simply not selling any more. Currently, we are partnering. There is psychology, understanding, relationship building, questions, and solutions being discussed. It’s a process that isn’t solved by a fast moving inside sales department that is taught to ‘close, close, close.’ And that is how all of our sales departments should be running. Selling sports is not like selling a shirt…it goes well with your eyes, you can wear it to the office, it’s fun. Selling sports is an investment and with that investment, the consumer wants to know what is it that I get out of this? An experience, yes. But how will it connect to me emotionally? How can that connection that I will make help me with my family, friends, business, team, vendors, etc.?
Which leads me to how can we close today? We close when we have the reasons to close. For example:
Have you asked questions that are not invasive but conversational to find needs? Starting out by saying ‘tell me about your company’ will (and should) get you thrown out the front door. You should have done your homework already. Starting out by explaining a little about your understanding of the company and ask if you are correct in your understanding or why you chose to come to their company in particular or what you look for in a company and how they have those qualities puts you on solid ground. I have found they are more apt to disclose far more when they can explain your understanding further.
Using an “I/my” approach in a little different way. “I know in our office, we come out to meetings such as this, or take a prospect to lunch or coffee, or sometimes treat them to a game and meet with them. How does your sales staff approach prospects?” This gives them the opportunity to relax as you are sharing about yourself and your experience, not just asking questions as if the light bulb were hanging and you wanted to know where they were on the night of….
Genuine listening and having a conversation says I care. How many times either on the phone or in person have you just shot out question after question assuming you are doing a ‘needs analysis?’ You may be, but you are also making your prospect feel as if they are under interrogation. Know your questions but ask them in ways based off of what they have just said. Have transitional moments in your conversation for continuity. “I understand how you encourage your reps to meet with clients but want them to scale back a bit on all the dinners and events. It would get expensive and you’d have a hard time knowing month to month what the expenses will be. I’m sure your finance department cringes like ours with each month’s expense reports. I would think a great solution would be to have a pricing model upfront so you know month to month what they will be spending.” And then be quiet. This sends you on a next path of how you can make a recommendation based off of all inclusive pricing for their budgeting needs.
Making a recommendation based on needs. I cringe when I hear “So Kathy, how does that sound?” Well, it sounds like you are selling at me. But I listen when I hear “based on what you just shared with me, xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx (In their words), I would recommend we do this: xxxxxxxxxxx and here is why…xxx will solve the dilemma of xxxx, xxxx will also assist the reps in xxxxx, etc. You are making your recommendation, basing it off of their needs they just shared, and explaining why it will solve those needs. THIS is a conversation. THIS is a partnership. This is NOT selling like it’s 1999, but rather 2017.
We all know the scripts we had to memorize when we were first learning to sell. Some of us have kept using them, some have modified them. How much better could you be if you actually built a relationship with the client as you were leading up to the sale? What more could you find and how much stronger and broader could your recommendations be? Maybe you wouldn’t just be selling that 6 game package but rather a half season, 2 suite rentals and a group outing. And maybe – just maybe – finding that they could actually be a corporate sponsor also.
I am a firm believer we are not in the office 8 hours or more a day to sell to someone. Rather, we are there to partner with someone. Find needs, create solutions, recommend how to fill needs with you solutions and close and become a true partner. This is selling for 2017. This is selling for the long term. And yes, let’s party like its any year after a successful day!
Kathy Burrows, Sold Out Seating
Tier 3 sales training, leadership and management training: firstname.lastname@example.org
I have find myself reading a lot of things you post. At xxx we are currently in our “off season” which means there is more work than ever to be done for the future and next season. I read your article titled: Climbing to the Peak in Your Sales and it really spoke to me. This is still my first year in sales and I found myself a little lost in the beginning of the off season. Your article encouraged me to make a plan, and a list of leads I want to go after in the summer to keep me on track. I look forward to reading more as you write. Thanks again! Mary Kate Walch
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