Most sports teams are run better than most businesses. It’s sad but true.
One of the first things I do when I go in to a company is say, “Show me your playbook.” Usually, they look at me like I’m the man from mars. The success of every sports team is linked to practice, preparation and having a great playbook. It’s no different when it comes to sales.
A sales professional is someone who does three things:
1. Gets business from a prospect that is already committed to someone else
2. Helps his or her business sources reach their full potential
3. Constantly upgrades their clientele
However, there are still some hurdles. How do you gain the attention of attractive prospects? How do you overcome a prospects’ commitment to another supplier? How do you combat a prospects’ indifference to meet?
The answer is build a relationship with them. A core theme of Relationship Selling is that two people want to work together won’t let details stand in their way.
Building a Successful Relationship
Building a relationship starts by overcoming a prospect’s indifference toward you. Ignorance is not bliss. Don’t call on a prospect until you’ve 'pre-marketed' yourself. This changes the acceptance rating among prospects considerably. Create a positive image by sending your prospect helpful ideas and general market information.
The greater the positive image you build the greater your success will be.
The Path to Success
Sales success is achieved from the bottom-up. First we define a prospect’s highest value needs by conducting a meaningful interview in a favorable environment. When you call a prospect to set an appointment, ask to hold the meeting in a conference room. You want to pull your client away from their office and phone.
At this point you’ll want to determine four things:
1. Highest value needs (HVNs) held by the prospect
2. Social style of the person
3. Current relationships with competitors
4. Objections to be resolved
Professionals never recommend a course of action until they’ve fully determined the problem, opportunity or need in the relationship. You wouldn’t trust a physician who prescribed you medicine before conducting a physical, would you? Hold yourself to the same professional standards.
Interviewing for Results
Everyone knows traditional salespeople talk too much. Relationship sales professionals listen. The listener controls the interview. There is a considerable difference between a traditional, possibly manipulative salesperson, and a relational one.
Relationship selling focuses on discovering the customer’s needs and offering viable solutions rather than pitching features. More time is devoted to building relationships with less emphasis on aggressive selling.
Never sell your products or services to someone unless they perceive it is in their best interest to do so. Always determine their highest value needs.
Fulfilling Unmet Needs
Now you determine your prospect’s social style and ask questions to discover the condition of their current business relationships. Be aware of any unmet needs they have before asking questions.
Remember my playbook story? Again, apply the same logic to sales. Practice, prepare and have a playbook. Know where you’re going.
Now you can motivate the prospect by formulating highly desirable solutions. Have a notebook full of concrete reasons they should work with you. Each solution should suggest an action to advance the relationship to the next level: entering into a partnership.
If you initially fail, keep trying. Our goal is to nurture the relationship, not make one sale.
Prospects tend to react negatively when a salesperson pleads. Saying, “Give me a try and I’ll show what I can do” has become a trite statement. It’s far better to suggest an action that will directly benefit the prospect.
Don’t be in a hurry to ask for their business. When you feel the time is right, use a close-ended question. Their answer will determine where the relationship is headed.
A “Yes” will demonstrate your knowledge, sensitivity and constructive help.
Make Fewer Calls
A successful sales career is built by maintaining a limited number of highly productive clients, not by making as many call as possible in a week. “Focus precedes success” is another core concept of the Relationship Selling Process.
Every sales professional should have a list of prospects they target to build strong business relationships. In addition, we should develop at least one new client per quarter. Upgrading our clientele will increase our productivity, especially with high quality prospects.
Prospects are open to a new salesperson that can help them become more successful. Be aware that most prospects are reluctant to change, especially successful ones.
Our goal is to have a specific number of clients we want as business partners. Select each one carefully because it will take a long time to win over each prospect.
Preparing for Action
Once you’ve defined our prospect’s HVNs you must decide whether to ask for an appointment to present your solutions or suggest immediate action.
This decision is influenced by how well you’ve determined the prospects needs, social style, present business relationships and potential objections. If doesn’t matter how many sales calls you make. What’s more important is how effective each call is. If you want to do more business you need to see fewer people. If you want to be successful in business by seeing fewer people, you need to practice, prepare and create your playbook.
So, are you ready to be the man from mars?
By Jack Daly, professional sales coach, speaker and expert in corporate culture, inspiring audiences to take action in customer loyalty and personal motivation. Jack’s biography is a testament as to how he delivers explosive sales keynotes, sales workshops and corporate culture workshops. Jack brings 30+ years of field-proven experience from a starting base with CPA firm Arthur Andersen to the CEO level of several national companies. Jack is a proven CEO/Entrepreneur, having built six companies into national firms, two of which he subsequently sold to the Wall Street firms of Solomon Brothers and First Boston.