Reprinted with permission of the publisher from HOW TO SELL ANYTHING TO ANYONE ANYTIME© 2011 Dave Kahle Published by Career Press, Pompton Plains, NJ. 800-227-3371.
All rights reserved.
Now that I’ve punctured your misconceptions about what sales is, and given you some ideas about what sales is not, it’s time to hone in on the good stuff. Here are a number of different definitions to help you come to grips with what selling really entails.
Selling is the science of helping people get what they want.
If your prospective customer doesn’t want or need what you are offering – if it doesn’t fill some need in the customer – then you have no business engaging in the selling process with him. Now don’t get too hung up on the definition of “need.” If we define that too narrowly, it would eliminate everything except food and shelter. Our needs and wants are ever-expanding, and include things that make us feel good or fill some emotional need as well those that meet our basic needs. We may not really need a caramel cream latte, but thousands are purchased every day. It makes us feel good.
While selling is what you do, and you can do it better, it is still less about you and more about your customer.
Selling is the process of helping people make decisions that often lead them to purchase from you.
Effective selling begins with an understanding that it is about influencing the decisions of the customer. In other words, the ultimate location for the sales process is the mind and heart of the customer. Very few sales situations involve only one decision. One decision leads to another, which leads to another, which leads to the decision to buy.
Here’s an example I often use to illustrate this point. Let’s take one of the simplest selling situations with which I have ever been involved – selling water softeners to homeowners. This is a classic “one-call close.” In other words, there is only one sales call necessary to help the customer make a decision. You either sell it when you see them, or you don’t sell it at all.
Sounds simple. But even that simple, one-call sales process is quite a bit more involved, when examined through the perspective of the decisions that the customer must make. Look at the illustration below.
To initiate the process, the company must advertise and make themselves appear to be a reputable solution for hard water problems. The customer lives in the land of apathy and ignorance. In other words, they don’t know the sales person or the company, and that’s fine with them. Their life is OK without them. So, they are ignorant of the company and apathetic about it.
The first decision the customer must make is whether or not to call the company. The company hopes to influence that decision by the quality of its advertising, as well as its reputation in the market.
Let’s say the customer decides in the affirmative, and calls the company. Now, the customer has a sales person on the phone. The customer now must make a decision as to whether or not to interact honestly with the sales person. If the sales person seems rude, arrogant, or uninterested, the customer may decide to call someone else. Some get that impression, and terminate the call. Others decide that the sales person sounds trustworthy and competent enough to talk to, and do so.
As the conversation progresses, the sales person is going to ask the customer for an appointment to come out, look at their situation, and test their water. Another decision for the customer.
Some decide not to do that, for whatever reason, and they drop out of the process. Others decide to make the appointment, and move one step closer in the process.
Now, the customer faces yet another decision – whether or not to keep the appointment. Somewhere around 20 – 30 % of those who make appointments, decide, after the fact, not to keep it. So, they make sure they are gone when the sales person shows up, or they hide in the basement and wait until he leaves. Those who do not keep the appointment drop out of the process, those who decide to keep it, move one step further along.
The sales person shows up, this time in person, in the customer’s home. The customer has another decision – whether or not to be honest and forthcoming with the sales person. Should she let me test the water? Should she take him down in the basement and show him the old equipment? If the sales person appears competent and trustworthy, she will generally decide to interact honestly and the process moves along.
Finally, the sales person tests the water, makes a recommendation for a new system and asks the customer to buy.
This simple one-call close selling process consisted of a series of six decisions. Even in this simple selling process, the effective sales person understands that it is a series of decisions, and his/her job is to help the customer make each affirmatively.
Selling is at the same time both simple and incredibly challenging.
It is simple in that almost every adult of reasonable intelligence, who has just a modicum of people skills, can understand it and do it. It is incredibly challenging in that to become exceptionally good at it takes the better part of a life-time of effort and practice.
Here’s an example. Let’s compare selling to the game of basketball. Anyone can take a basketball, bounce it a couple of times, and throw it up at hoop. In its essence, that’s the game of basketball. However, there is a great distance between the skills and competence of the novice and those of someone like LeBron James. While the world is full of people who can play basketball, only a handful compete at a world class level.
You can sell. I’ll show you how. But more importantly, you can also sell better. I’ll show you that as well.
You can do each step better
It’s one thing to be able to do each step of the sales process, and it’s another to be able to do each step better! Just like every other field of human endeavor, there are the average performers, and there are those who do it better!
Here’s an example. I love to golf. But I am, at best, an average golfer. I’m not nearly as good as many of the golfers in my league. I know I can golf better – after all, many of them are better. Every year I expect that I will golf a bit better. But, alas, I just don’t have the time and energy to put into becoming better. If I did put the time and energy into it, I would, no doubt, raise my game. So, while I am an average golfer, I could, if I chose, become better.
So, too with every one of these steps in the process. There is adequate performance, and then there is better performance. But it’s not an either/or kind of situation. There are degrees of better. There’s lots of room between me and Tiger Woods.
Think of your performance on each step as being like a dart target. You know the kind I’m thinking about – it is split into six or eight pie shaped slices, and has a number of rings, each smaller than the one immediately to the outside of it. The bull’s eye, in the middle of the target, has the greatest scoring potential.
When you are playing darts, you throw your darts at the target, and the closer your dart strikes to the bull’s eye, the more points you score. If your dart strikes at the outer most ring, you score just a few points. But you do many times better if you hit the bull’s eye.
Now, every time you engage in one of the process steps, it’s like throwing a dart at the target. You can hit the outer ring and score a few points, or hit closer to the bull’s eye and score more. You can do each step of the process, or you can do each step better. And, like the ever-smaller rings of the target, there are degrees of better. The bull’s eye is always the vision of perfection.
As we discuss each step of the process, I’ll show you how to do it, and then, how to do it better!
The payoff for you is far greater than just a better golf game. You’ll be more fulfilled, make more money, and ensure you and your family’s prosperity and security for the future — all worth the time and effort to become better at sales.
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