Welcome to Part 2 of “Crushing Sales Secrets”, a new series of posts dedicated to increasing your sales. This time we are going to discuss 2 distinct techniques that work so well together that I decided to put them together for this secret. What are those 2 techniques? Glad you asked.
The Boy Scouts nailed this one. You should always do a bit of research before making that first contact with a prospect. You don’t need to spend hours on this or anything, but a few minutes on their website should tell you just about everything you need to know to set up your appointment.
The essence of “Be Prepared” lies in preparing questions ahead of time. As a Sales person, you have one job: Help your customer solve a problem”. That’s it. Strip the whole bare and that is what you are left with. So, how do you know what the customer’s problems are? You ask!
Don’t make the mistake of showing up to a Sales appointment without some prepared questions for your prospect. This is the kiss of death. Oftentimes, a prospect doesn’t even fully KNOW what exactly their core problem is. But, YOU are the expert. YOU need to prepare questions that get you to the problem, so you can get the solution to the prospect.
So, what kinds of questions should you prepare? I’m all about simplicity:
- What does the prospect do? – This goes beyond “selling widgets” or “real estate”. Find out what makes the prospect tick. Use this question to get to the core of the business and what they do day-in and day-out. They may “sell widgets”, but maybe this prospect sells widgets in a particular niche or only sells a proprietary type of widget. No 2 businesses are EXACTLY the same. Find out what makes this prospect unique. This type of opening also tends to build rapport as most prospects I know love to talk about their business.
- How does the prospect do what they do and why? – Does this prospect sell widgets online only? Brick and mortar only? Via referrals? Via social media? Use this question to get to the core of their business model. Have them walk you through the entire marketing and sales process. Many times this question can start to reveal pain points for the customer. They may have been doing things one way for a long time and don’t understand why it isn’t working as well.
- Where does the prospect want their business to be in 1 year? In 5 years? – I always ask this question at every appointment. I see myself and my business as a long-term solution via a long term partnership. Even if you are just selling a one time widget, it pays to get some insight into what the prospect’s future goals are. You never know if they may be looking to expand or even branch out. THIS is where I really start to think about how I can help this prospect reach those goals. By this point, you will parobably have enough information to put together a compelling proposal.
Keep in mind that these are fairly generic questions and every industry will have it’s own set of specifics but be sure that you get the answers to above questions. Without them, you simply don’t have enough information to fulfill your obligation to the prospect. Remember, you are always looking for a win-win at every appointment.
Listen, Listen, Listen
This is potentially the most important secret in all of Sales. Sadly, this is also one of the most disregarded.
I cannot tell you how many appointments I’ve had with over-eager (or just plain cocky) Sales people over the years who have tried to finish my sentences or (even worse) told me exactly what I needed before letting me explain my situation. There are no bigger prospect turn-offs than this.
Not listening to your prospect does 3 things:
- It makes them feel like you are putting them in the same box as every other business. Prospects want to feel unique. They want to feel important. When you don’t listen and assume you know what they need, they feel like you view them as a number and not a partner.
- It makes them feel like you don’t care about what THEY want. They may be trying to tell you what they want to accomplish but when you push something on them before you listen to them, they assume you either can’t do what they really want or that you simply don’t care. Neither of these things are good.
- It costs you revenue. Bottom line: Even if you THINK you know what a client needs, you will never TRULY know until they tell you everything. I have walked into appointments determined to sell a particular service. I knew the prospect needed it and I knew they could afford it. More times than I can count, I’ve walked out of that appointment with even more business than I set out to get. How? By listening. Listening to their goals. Listening to their pain points. Listening to what THEY want, rather than what I wanted to sell them. The more a prospect tells you about their business, the more opportunities you have to find solutions.
The Ultimate Secret
Prepare your questions ahead of time. Listen to the prospect’s answers. It sounds like Sales 101 stuff, but you would not believe the number of Sales people I meet who cannot do these simple techniques.
Don’t interrupt your prospect. Don’t finish their sentences. Don’t assume you know what they need. Don’t assume anything.
Listen + Listen + Listen = Sales + Sales + Sales
Bill Price is one of the founders and COO of Business Begins Here LLC. He has over 16+ years of experience in Business Management, e-Commerce, Customer Service, and Project Management across multiple industries. He is passionate about helping entrepreneurs start and grow their dream businesses. In his spare time he likes to learn languages, watch sports, and dream big dreams.