Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Art and Science of Creating a Sale

Lance Armstrong finishing 3rd in Sète, taking ...Image via Wikipedia

Selling is both art and science. Having mastery of both these aspects will make you a formidable salesperson and lots of money. As most of us are not savants when it comes to selling we must obtain the necessary skills and abilities the old fashion way. That means studying theory, technique, and then practicing what we learn. The practicing is what makes the skills and abilities come to fruition.

Most everyone can learn to ride a bike. Not everyone can ride like Lance Armstrong. Most everyone can learn to sell. Not every one will equal Joe Girard. The point is that if you are willing to make the commitment to fail until you succeed you can achieve some level of proficiency in sales. Since sales is one of the better paying occupations becoming a proficient sales person can be both fun and hugely rewarding.

Picking a product is very important. Since enthusiasm is critical to sales success, it is smart to pick a product that gets you excited. Finance, flying, yachting and sports all offer lucrative sales opportunities. Real Estate, automobiles, insurance and hard goods also can create wealth. Some products like insurance create streams of passive wealth through residual income. The important thing though is to sell what you believe in and enjoy. If you are enthusiastic and excited by your product, your career will be infinitely more rewarding personally and financially.

Once you have decided on a product the next most important thing you need to do is learn everything there is to know about it. You need to be a product knowledge maven. You also need to familiarize yourself with your competitions product just as thoroughly. Your command of product knowledge should be so complete that everyone comes to you with questions. The study of your and your competitors’ product never ends; as the products evolve, you must be up on all the latest innovations and specifications. The old saying that knowledge is power is true. It is also one of the fundamental sources of enthusiasm and confidence.

Your pursuit of sales training should be just as vociferous and compelling as your pursuit of product knowledge. Most sales organizations have industry specific sales training. There is a plethora of good books on the subject. If you know of someone who is, particularly adept you should ask him or her to mentor you.

The best teacher though is experience. Like any other skill-set selling skills must be used in real life situations repeatedly until honed to a razors edge. There are many clichés like fake it until you make it and fail until you succeed. They have a kernel of truth in them. Even the so-called natural born salesperson is not as skillful when he first starts as he eventually becomes through practice and repetition.

There are many different selling systems. Some are industry specific and some more general. Early in your career, it is important to learn whichever system your employer embraces and teaches. As you progress through the steps to a sale, you can mentally review each step and ask yourself how you are doing. If you have skipped a step or not done it well the self-audit will remind you to return to that step and complete it before asking for the order. The selling process that follows is one I like to use. It is brief enough that it is easy to remember and complete enough that it covers the essential steps in the sales process. I hope you find it helpful.

Create Interest: Your opening statement must create interest and give you command of the conversation. Can I help you, is inviting a no I am just looking response. A better greeting in the appropriate circumstance would be, it is just great to see you today, and I have some exciting things to share with you!
Revitalize the Mind: Your sales presentation should open the customers mind to all the alternatives you can offer before asking them to make a buying decision. It might sound like this; we have new (your product) ready for immediate delivery but let me ask, if I could show you a pre-owned (your product) that represented a great value for you, would you consider the savings.
Evince Logic: People consider a purchase out of curiosity or emotion; they justify a purchase with logic and rationalization. Logic chains are built with a logical advantage and an emotional trigger followed by a trial close. It might sound like this. John, you say you agree that the (your product) meets and even exceeds all of your wants and needs and you told me successfully buying and installing this would help you get that promotion, why don’t we finish this up so you can go home and celebrate.
Arouse Desire: You arouse desire by showing the benefits, conveniences and pleasure of ownership. Arousing desire is a product of getting to know your customer. Through a colloquial process where you ask open-ended questions and listen, really listen to the answers. If you take a sincere interest in the customers wants and needs, as well as them as a person it will be obvious to them. Think of it as making a friend because done well that is exactly what happens. With the information you glean you can perform a feature benefit presentation based on the customers’ wants, needs and dominant buying motive.
Trial Close: A trial close is any question the answer to which confirms the customers’ intent to buy now. One of the trial closes I have used often and with good success goes like this, during my qualifying interview I will pause, get eye contact, smile and ask “John how am I doing so far, are we headed in the right direction. The right time to ask this is determined with your empathetic skills; just like in a courtroom, you never ask a closing question you do not know the answer to.
Effect Closure: Closing is confirming agreement on terms and conditions and handling details like paperwork. If the ground work is done well, by that I mean you have made a friend, determined wants and needs, aroused desire with a enthusiastic product presentation based on those wants and needs and asked for the business in a professional and friendly manner, closing happens naturally.

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