It used to be the case that you could just make a phone call to a buyer, tell them about your new ‘thing’ and get an appointment. OK, I make that sound like it would work every time – it didn’t – but it worked enough times to make it worth doing.
Well not now! Everything is much tougher!
Whether you deal with a procurement professionals or the general public, they have one big thing in common – they will have done their research already and are probably quite well informed!
Think about your life – if your washing machine fails or you need a new phone, pretty much the first thing you will do is to start Googling the options. We all do it!
This has implications for the way buyers will engage with you.
If they have done their research already, they are more likely to approach potential providers themselves. The huge message here is that you simply MUST be discoverable – otherwise, well, how will they discover you? So you (or your marketing department) had better be ensuring that your main channels of promotion are working hard to tell the world about you.
But this new way of buying also has an implication when you are with customers or are talking with them.
THEY know they have done their research.
YOU know they have done their research.
THEY know you know they have done their research.
So don’t let it be the Elephant in the Room! 🐘🐘🐘🐘
Be honest and up front – ask your prospects what research they have done and if there is anything they would like you to clarify. This demonstrates that you are not afraid of their having done research already, rather you acknowledge it and want to be an additional and valuable resource.
Remember, you know what they are thinking because you do it yourself! So take advantage of that to help them make a buying decision.
Do you turn up and hope for the best, or do you prep?
Yesterday I was invited to a meeting with a potential new client regarding sales training and, as usual, I did some research first.
There is a lot out there if you look:
? Companies House (I checked their financials and their directors) ? LinkedIn (of course …. we’ll come to that in a minute) ? Their website ? From that I could see they were recruiting, so I checked out the sales roles they advertised ? Twitter – lots of company posts ? Now, back to LinkedIn – I discovered hundreds of employees, searched by job role and then had a look at some of their profiles to see how they presented themselves and how active they were on LinkedIn ? I also had a look at the people who were going to be in the meeting
I found out a ton of stuff.
Some wasn’t that relevant, but loads was – it helped me understand about the size of the company, the culture, I could quickly see some of their issues as well as what they were good at.
It made the meeting more focussed, more relevant and personalised.
They liked that I took the trouble.
I wouldn’t do it any other way.
You see, I think it’s about respect, but it is also about positioning yourself as being better than the competition (I haven’t got the faintest idea who I am up against, but I can only be the best version of me).
And that’s how I like to work.
So, back to my question, do you prep before a meeting?
He’s 13 years old, so obviously he knows how to cold call better than me!
OK – It’s Hallowe’en and I’m doing Trick or Treating with my 2 children and their 9 year old cousin. Clear instructions are issued:
Only go to the houses with pumpkins or decorations outside
Don’t be too scary (he’s a good kid, but at 13 my son towers above many of the householders)
So off we go. Instructions are followed, sweets are collected, everyone is happy.
After a while, we meet with another cousin, the same age as my son. His loot is so impressive he has nearly filled a rucksack. We join forces and continue. His strategy, however, is different from ours. Read More
Positive Language can make a huge difference to your sales conversation, so don’t go using language that makes customers avoid you.
There are certain words and phrases that are considered clichés in the world of selling. If you want to avoid looking like an insincere salesperson, or one who is just following a script. Then it is a good idea not to fall into the trap of using tired, unimaginative words and phrases. That doesn’t mean that you need to have the vocabulary of Shakespeare. But you should at least try to say things in your own way.
One of the key things you can do is ensure you use positive language. Here are some suggestions:
Don’t use clichés – instead, use your own words.
Listen to yourself – if you can, record some of your calls – you will notice all sorts of things that you didn’t realise you were doing and then you can work on eliminating bad habits.
Never start a call with “How are you?” Why? Well it absolutely screams “You’re trying to sell me something” (particularly if you don’t care, because then you seem insincere as well – see 5 below).
Always remember you are talking to a real person – for all you know they could have had 20 other people calling them today. They would be trying to sell to them. Therefore, put yourself in their shoes and imagine how you would feel if someone rang you up and talked to you like you were just a number.
If you sound insincere, then as far as the customer is concerned, you probably are insincere. Work hard to show that you are genuine.
Edwin was new to sales and he was determined to do well. He had been out with his boss during his training and now he was starting to go on visits by himself. Edwin was bursting with enthusiasm, loved the products. Which were advanced water treatment systems – and he really enjoyed going out and meeting new customers.
He started toclose sales but soon realised that selling was not always as easy as his boss had made it look. In particular, he really struggled with some of the seasoned and experienced buyers that he had to approach to stock his product.
One refused to give Edwin an appointment. He tried every week to arrange a visit, but the buyer just wasn’t having any of it. In frustration, Edwin asked his boss if he could listen in to his phone conversation to see if there was something he was missing. In fact, his boss went one step further – he recorded the call. When Edwin asked for feedback, his boss told him to listen to the call and see if he could work it out.
horrified. He heard himself using what seemed like every cliché in the book.
“How are you today”, “To be honest”, “Quite Frankly”. It was as though he had
suddenly lost the power to speak in English!
More about Edwin’s situation.
His boss kindly explained that the buyer didn’t want to talk to an automaton who only spoke in trite sales terms; rather he wanted to talk to a real human being who cared about what was important to him. He also pointed out that by using phrases like “Frankly” and “To be honest”. He was coming across as insincere and was giving the impression that he was either hiding something or worse, lying.
By asking “How are you today?”, Edwin was coming over particularly insincerely – as his boss pointed out, his job was to sell, the buyer knew his job was to sell and, apart from wasting time it was probably actually annoying the buyer and eroding confidence in Edwin’s product. He explained, the moment you hear someone you have never met before say that on the phone, you know they don’t care. That they are trying to appear polite, but actually couldn’t care less how you are – they just want to sell you something.
Edwin’s boss gave him some other pointers too – for example, making sure he was never rude or disrespectful to the competition, never starting a conversation by asking if the buyer wanted to place an order and to just use his own authentic and real words.
With his boss standing by him, Edwin rang his elusive buyer again. When he got through, he apologised for his previous call, saying he wasnew. He used his own language. Explained that he thought he had something the buyer might be interested in seeing and politely asked for an appointment. The buyer said ‘yes’, on the condition that Edwin did not use the word “Honestly”. Edwin unreservedly agreed.
So often, we fail to get the basics right. Sometimes, all we need is a little help from someone to point us in the right direction. To be smart about using positive language appropriately.
This is an adapted excerpt from my book “Small Business Sales Dilemmas – 50 Real Life Case Studies to Help you Sell More.” (Which is available on Amazon.)
If you know they are, then they might need an introduction to selling. Check out our regular course “How to Sell”. Currently run over 6 weeks part-time (normally a 2-day programme, but obviously subject to current restrictions)
This covers all the main issues faced by today’s salesperson: