It’s tough enough in sales to find and sell to new customers. It’s even tougher when your biggest competitor is your own company. Most employees think it’s only the salespeople who sell.
Little do they realize that they, too, are exhibiting sales skills every time they have contact with customers.
The sale starts with the gatekeeper. What’s the attitude when the phone is answered? Do the words and attitude match? Does she mean it when she says, “How can I help?”, or does she convey, “You’re bothering me. What do you want?”
When a customer comes in with a service problem, does the service person feel he’s being imposed upon? “You’re a pain” is often the message customers receive.
Billing problem? I’ve seen hundreds of accounts lost because the billing department was indifferent, rude, or downright obnoxious.
Selling is tough. Don’t make it impossible. Quit competing against yourself.
We’ve all done it. Called someone by the wrong name. Slipped and fell on the ice when entering the building. Lost our train of thought when talking with a customer.
What do you do in an embarrassing situation? You can pretend it never happened and take no responsibility for it. Psychologists have found observers expressed dislike for the individual who does this.
You can confidently try to remedy the situation. Observers are unfavorable to anyone who maintains their aura of self-confidence.
Or you can express your embarrassment and try to fix the situation. Observers best like those who show their embarrassment and find those people endearing. They’ve seen themselves in similar situations and feel the pain.
When it happens, use embarrassment to your advantage. Maybe get a laugh out of it. People will see you as vulnerable and human and quickly bond with you.
Answers to your questions give you more knowledge. That’s a given. But questions are often more important than the answers you get.
One of the most important reasons is to get the customer to relax. Asking easy questions allows you to establish a baseline for how to judge future body language signals he’s going to send. When he’s talking about his vacation, he’ll be leaning towards you, gesturing with his hands, smiling, and chin up. When you ask a critical question in a few minutes, he may lean away from you, cross his arms, put his chin down, and furrow his brow. These physical clues are more important information than any answers he may try to deceive you with.
By establishing a baseline for how he acts, you can determine which specific questions make him anxious, causes stress, or gets him to open up. Then you can adapt your presentation.
When making a sales call on the CEO or president, how should you begin the conversation?
- With several minutes of small talk
- Cut to the chase
- Wait until the CEO steers the conversation to the subject at hand
(2) Head honchos are usually Driver or Analytical personalities – neither enjoys small talk. Assume you only have fifteen minutes. Take the lead, cut to the chase, and start with your most important point first. It may be the only point you get to make. Speak in specifics: numbers, percentages, and dollars. Be prepared to prove every statement.
Helen Thomas knows where to start: Trying to evade a difficult question, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said the answer was too long and he didn’t know where to start. Helen Thomas responded, “Then start at the end.”
Customer give you a problem you can’t solve? Having a hard time to be creative to develop a new marketing piece? Psychologist Ellen Langer said to get the creative juices flowing, add the simple phrase “could be” to look at a problem.
Her experiments showed that if one group of subjects were given a brick and were told “it’s a brick”, they couldn’t see any other creative uses for it. Their mindset was frozen as “it’s a brick”. The next test group was given the same brick and told, “This could be a brick.”
When the last group was asked how many other ways a brick could be used, they said it could serve as a foot warmer, weapon, paperweight, step, bookend, fulcrum, or as a source for red powder.
Solve this problem: Price could be a factor. (That’s right – price is no longer just a brick.)