Use these short seminars from our Self-Improvement Newsletter to sharpen your sales skills and attitudes for sales success! Each takes only a minute to read, but the profound truths can take up an entire seminar.
Listen With Your Eyes
“When you listen, you do more than listen with your ears. If humanly possible, turn directly toward the person speaking and forget forms, data, product samples, or anything else. Look your prospect in the eye and watch for those nonverbal clues that give insights into the person speaking. Notice the gestures, the way the person sits or stands, the smile or frown — anything and everything indicating the frame of mind at that particular moment. Listen to “the way” the person is speaking…
“Most important, do not interrupt, and never finish a phrase, thought, or sentence when your prospect pauses.”
— Zig Ziglar
The most successful sales person is one who can set his or her client at ease. One of the best ways to do that is to add a little humor to your presentation. Here are a few tips to lighten up your presentation style.
1- Use humor that suits your own personality. Use it to make people feel comfortable.
2 – Unless you’re a natural wit, plan ahead. Carefully choose what you want to say, then choose the right moment to say it. Practice to add polish to your delivery.
3 – Make your joke appropriate to the circumstances. Stick to humor that’s relevant to your presentation and doesn’t divert your prospect’s attention from what you’re saying.
4 – Above all, use humor to bond with — rather than alienate — your client. Make jokes at your own expense, never your prospect’s. Remember, what’s funny to you may be offensive or out of place to someone else.
Sell on Quality Not on Price
A sales manager at John Deere wears a tie clasp with the initials SOQ NOP across it. They stand for “Sell on Quality, Not on Price.”
Once he was bidding for a sale against another competitor. He was called into the office of the buyer and told that Deere would not get the order because they were simply too high on the price side.
He was about to accept the bad news and leave the office. But then he had an inspiration. He said to the buyer, “those are nice looking boots you have on.” The buyer was surprised, but appreciative that he had noticed, and they talked for a bit about why the leather made them so practical, as well as fine looking. The salesman then asked, “what made you buy those boots instead of taking a pair off some discount shoe shore shelf?”
The buyer thought for a minute, and then smiled broadly, shook the salesman’s hand and said, “the sale is yours.”
Remember, when you factor in quality, service, and selection, it is usually more economical in the long run to pay a little more than you’d planned.
Success Tip: always value quality over price in your conversations.
The Value Of Underselling
Harness the power of underselling to boost repeat business and to get more new customers referred to you. Remember, a happy customer will tell three other people. But, an unhappy one will tell over 20! So, try to boost your customer’s satisfaction by delivering a little more than you promised.
For example, if you can deliver it by Monday, promise it by Tuesday and give them a pleasant surprise. Throw in an extra product or service (it doesn’t have to cost a lot; it’s the thought that counts). Send a hand-written thank you note. Follow up with a phone call to make sure the product was installed properly.
Most of all, if you can’t meet the customer’s needs, be honest and admit it up front. Nothing hurts your chances for tomorrow’s sales more than making a promise that you can’t deliver on. In today’s competitive environment, good old fashioned honesty and added value will give you the edge over flashy gimmicks and empty promises.
Success Tip: Deliver more than you sell, and then follow up to be sure your customer is happy.
Take Control of Your Time
The ability to control time rather than allow-ing time to control you is an important skill of a successful sales person. Time management means more productivity, less stress, less anxiety. Experts agree that much of our time is wasted on unproductive activities. Generally speaking, 80% of our results come from only 20% of our activities. Here is a list of common time wasters that we should avoid…
Crises / Urgencies
Lack of clear goals
A cluttered desk
The inability to say NO
Lack of self-discipline
Success Tip: Frequently ask yourself, “what is the best use of my time right now?” Set clear goals and stick to your plan by avoiding the time-wasters.
Take Action to Overcome Fear
Fear is the greatest enemy of a sales professional. Fear of rejection causes an otherwise excellent sales person to dread cold calling. Fear of looking silly prevents many from giving an enthusiastic presentation. Statistics show that over half of the sales presentations in America end with no attempt to close whatsoever. Why? Fear of failure. Fear, fear, fear. It can leave us paralyzed and ineffective.
What is the cure for fear? ACTION! If you are afraid of rejection, make more cold calls. If you fear ridicule, make your presentation audacious and dynamic. If you worry about failure, learn some effective closes and use them.
The truth is, most of the things we worry about never come to pass. So why worry?
Success Tip: Take decisive action to cure worry and overcome fear!
Frank Bacon was the star of the Broadway stage play LIGHTNIN’. One day while the play was enjoying its record run in Chicago, a friend asked Frank Bacon to play golf with him that afternoon. “I’m sorry,” said Bacon, “but I can’t make it today. We have rehearsal.”
“Rehearsal!” replied his friend. “Rehearsal for what?”
For LIGHTNIN’,” said Bacon, “you see, we still hold rehearsals twice each week.”
Approximately 2000 performances of the play had already been given in New York and Chicago. At the same time every night for six years, Frank Bacon said the same thing in the same way and got the same response. The story was old and doubtless tiresome to him, but it was new to his “prospects.” He told it each time as if it had never been told before, and he never failed to send them away “sold.”
There is a moral in this story for salespeople — particularly those who permit themselves to grow tired of telling the same old story over and over again. — Paul Ivey
Success Tip: Always present your product with fresh interest, energy, and enthusiasm.
Never Meet a Quota
It’s really easy to organize yourself so that you’ll never run any risk of meeting your quota. All you have to do is set your sights on meeting the quota.
How’s that again?
What I’m saying is this: if all you try to do is meet the quota, you’ll never do it. Why not? Because you’ll organize your activity to achieve the quota–which means barely meeting it. Something will always go wrong with part of your action, resulting in at least a small shortfall. “Had it in the bag. Then Mr. Jones fell apart on me.”
If you’re aiming to be average, this gets you there okay. But you’re aiming higher. Begin by organizing your activity so that you can double the quota! This way, when Bart bounces a check, Carl cancels an order, and Dave delays a bid, you’ll still do well with what’s left.
Success Tip: Don’t meet any quota that’s set for ordinary people — demolish it!
Qualify Your Prospects
Recently, a sales manager met with a part-time sales consultant who had made only 4 presentations but earned over $1500 in commissions the previous month! “What is your secret?” the manager asked. The answer? “I qualify my prospects. I just value my time too much to see people who are not qualified. Here is what I say when asking a customer for referrals: ‘Everyone who sees our product wants it, but not everyone can get it. If people don’t have the money, or the credit, to get started with our products when they see them and want them, they will feel really bad. I wouldn’t want any of your friends to feel that way. So, please only refer people who are stable, who have the money and good credit to be able to purchase our products if they decide they want them.'”
Success Tip:Qualify your prospects. Don’t waste their time and yours.
Statistics show that the average American spends 500 to 1000 hours per year in his or her car traveling from place to place. A full-time college student spends less time in the classroom in a year! Just think what you can learn if you will put that time to more effective use by listening to audio cassettes or CDs every time you get in your car. Success Tip: never drive anywhere without a motivational or instructional audio program.
No matter what industry you are in, there are usually only about 4 or 5 real objections that you repeatedly run up against. Typical objections are might be, “I can’t afford it” or “I want to think it over.” The trick is to diffuse these objections before they even come up.
Make a list of these common objections and then select true, third- person stories that you can tell about someone who could have used this objection, but who purchased your product anyway and had a positive experience. Or, alternatively, you could tell a true story about someone who used the objection and lost benefits, money, or prestige because of it.
– Select true stories that are interesting and make a particular point.
– Paint word pictures so your prospect can visualize the events in the story.
– Practice telling the story so you can be concise and to the point.
– Don’t sound preachy. If used skillfully, third-person stories are effective because the events don’t involve your prospective customer.
Success Tip: Use third-person stories to diffuse objections before they come up.
Pump Up Savings
If your product can save your customers money, here is a great story to illustrate the point . . .
There once was a man who has having a lot of trouble with his car. Every day he would fill the tank with gas, drive one mile to work, and one mile home and he would be out of gas! This happened day after day until finally, he took it in to the dealership.” There seems to be something wrong with my car,” he complained, “I’m not getting very good gas mileage.” The technician put the car up on the lift and examined the car. “Here’s your problem,” he said, “you have a big hole in your gas tank, you’ve been spilling gas on the street everywhere you go. “How much is that going to cost to get fixed?” the man asked. “$800,” came the reply.” Eight hundred dollars,” the man exclaimed, “I can’t afford that, I’m already spending too much money on gas!”
Is it Urgent?
One of the most important words you will learn as a sales professional is “urgency.” You might have the best product in the world, at the best price, and still be starving for sales if you don’t find a way to make the purchase urgent for the customer.
I once walked into a beautiful Lexus dealership –just browsing–and noticed a floor model that they had marked down. It was a beautiful dark emerald green. The price was right, it was available, and I was in the market. Did I buy it? No. I said, I’ll think about it, and left.
The next morning, I received a call from the Lexus salesman. It seems that someone else had looked at “my” car the night before and was coming back again today to look at it again. But, I could reserve the car for myself, with just a $500 deposit by credit card over the phone.
Well, guess what happened, it became urgent that I make a decision. So, I whipped out my credit card and made the deal.
Success Tip: Convince your prospect that you have a good product, and they will decide to own it — some day. Convince your prospect that the decision is urgent, and they will own it today.
Be a Team Player
If you work in a group of two or more people, chances are you are considered by the management as a “team.” The question is: do you consider your self a team member? Are you really acting as a team? Or, do you, at times, think of the other people in your company as competition? After all, if one of them gets the sale, you might not. It’s easy to see how some sales people adopt a defeating attitude and begin to sabotage their teammate’s work, and, as a result, sabotage their own success as well.
Remember the oft-told example of two horses pulling a load. Two horses, pulling in unison, can pull more than three times the amount that each horse can pull separately. It’s called the synergistic effect, and you can make it work for you and your company.
Vince Lobardi once said, “Individual commitment to a group effort–that is what makes a team, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” Look for ways that you can contribute to the group efforts of your entire sales staff. Look for way that you can work together. Look for ways to help others in your company–above and beyond what you are expected to do. Don’t be afraid to share ideas and techniques that work. Pretty soon, the effectiveness of the entire group will grow–boosting your personal sales and profits along with those of your team and your company.
Success Tip: Be a team player! Look for ways to help fellow workers and bolster your entire team.
Believe in the Law of Averages
One of the most important attitudes that one must develop in the world of selling is an unwavering belief in the law of averages — that if we simply see enough people, a certain percentage of them will purchase. Once we have a fixed belief in this fact, we can begin to focus on activity, which always brings results. In Frank Bettger’s great book on selling, How I Raised Myself from Failure, we find these words, “After all, this business of selling narrows down to one thing — just one thing…seeing the people! Show me any man of ordinary ability, who will go out and earnestly tell his story to four or five people every day, and I will show you a man who just can’t help making good.” Success in sales doesn’t mean you close every interview. It means you give enough presentations to sell more than anyone else. In 1994, Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s all-time home run record with 715 home runs. But he also had 1,262 strike-outs. In other words, he went through the humiliation of striking out almost twice as many times as he hit a home run. The difference is — he kept on swinging!!
Success Tip: Remember, each “no” just takes you that much closer to the next “yes.” Believe in the law of averages and just keep on working.
Self Esteem Makes the Difference!
Dr. Maxwell Maltz, a world famous plastic surgeon, noticed that many people who don’t really need it would come to him for plastic surgery. Their real problem was not their outward physical appearance, but their inner, hidden self-image. “These people were unhappy and unsuccessful because their hidden self-images compelled them to make mistakes, actually to do the wrong thing. Subconsciously these people were not aware that their self-images were the cause of their failure.”
Success Tip: The way you feel comes from inside yourself, not from the way you look or dress. Your appearance is important, but not as important as nurturing a positive feeling about your self from the inside.
Will it Keep an Old Lady Warm?
I love the story about an elderly grandmother who entered a hardware store and declared she wanted to purchase a new stove for her livingroom. The salesman let loose a barrage of sales patter about his latest-model heating stove. It had non-corroding bolts. It featured a newly patented insulating material. Just look at the guage steel used in the jacket. Manipulate those clever controls! See the ample combustion chambers! All these gadgets, conveniences, and improvements were overwhelmingly convincing, the salesman thought, and he finished his sales talk with a flourish, expecting an immediate and favorable response. But the old lady just looked at him, evidently expecting him to say more. Taken back, the salesman said, somewhat sarcastically, “well, madam, I’ve told you everything there is to know about that stove. Do you have any questions?” “Yes, just one,” she answered, “Will it keep an old lady warm?”
The most fundamental question that could be asked had not even been considered by the salesman. Many are so anxious to make a sale, whether it be an automobile, refrigerator, or a new home, they sometimes fail to answer the basic questions the buyer is asking. The best salesperson should always have the buyer’s interest at heart and when this attitude is perceived by a customer, chances are the sale will follow.
Control Your Emotions
Think about the times when you have let your emotions run away. What was the trigger that caused you to loose control? Was it your spouse? your job? the weather? If you think long enough, you will realize that we seldom get very angry about things that we can control. It is typically those conditions that fall outside of our circle of influence that spark out-of-control emotional responses. In other words, we waste our most passionate energy on things we can’t do anything about (like other people’s actions). What a waste!!
Next time you feel your emotions getting out of hand, make a conscious decision to focus only on things you CAN influence — work on you, take time for you, build you — and forget about everything else. Nothing has quite as much power to help you feel better as the simple decision to do something constructive — and leave the rest of the world to worry about itself.
Keep Conversation Interesting
There’s nothing more awkward than a boring conversation that keeps dragging on through sheer politeness. Here are some valuable tips for keeping conversations with clients and prospects from dragging…
1. Always keep the conversation at your listener’s educational level. Stick to everyday speech and avoid talking over people’s heads.
2. Be an animated listener. Allow your body language and facial expressions to reflect your interest in the speaker.
3. Talk about stimulating topics. Ask questions that appeal to the other person’s hobbies and interests, or about his or her job or family.
4. Listen, and be aware of the emotional climate. Don’t crack jokes that are inappropriate or insensitive. Try to be attuned to other’s unspoken moods.
5. As a last resort for a dragging conversation, be prepared to introduce conversation “boosters.” To have a ready supply, clip interesting news stories or magazine articles. Keep abreast of television news. Tell a human interest story.
— from Master Salesmanship, August, 1994
The Best Closing Question I’ve Ever Heard
Most people think of selling as an adversarial relationship: you against me. If I get the sale, I win, if not, you win. This is why so many people are afraid of the sales process and do almost anything to avoid it.
What they don’t understand is that a truly professional salesperson is not out to “get” them, he or she is there to assist them in making the best decision.
Here is a powerful, yet simple closing question that gets this point across. Look at the customer, smile, and say, “Let me ask you this, do you like it?” That’s it, four simple words. If you get a positive answer, simply follow up with “Would you like to own it if we could work it out?” Then, respond by saying, “well, let’s see what we can do to help you find a way to make it work.”
You see, if your prospect answers yes to both of these questions, it’s not you against them. It’s not you trying to talk them into something they don’t want. They have told you that they like the product, they want the product. From that point on, you are simply helping them find a way to get what they already want. Now, you are on their side of the table assisting them.
Success Tip: Ask these powerful questions: “Do you like it?” and “Would you like to own it if we could work it out?”
Ask for the Order
You might be amazed to learn that a significant number of sales calls end in no attempt to close whatsoever! The fact is that so many so-called sales professionals are so afraid of rejection, that they don’t even ask a closing question. Many give a great presentation and then just sit there hoping that the customer will jump out of their chair and beg to buy. Unfortunately, this seldom happens.
Here are 5 simple closing sentences that you can memorize to help you ask for the order in a non-threatening way.
“Which payment option do you prefer, this or this?”
“The down payment is 10%. Some put more down to make their payment less, others think that’s about right. Does that sound about right to you?”
“Wouldn’t you agree that now is the best time to start saving money with our product?”
“Is it alright if I put all the details on this invoice so you can see our full offer?”
Would you like it delivered, or would you rather pick it up in person?”
Success Tip: Ask a closing question and then SHUT UP. Don’t spoil it by adding one more thing. Wait for the customer to respond. They just may say “YES!”
Be A Little Early
You can learn an important lesson from boat racers. A professional racer came to a local boat club race. He practiced running at top speed from the starting point along the course. All the other racers were circling together at half speed near the starting point. As the race was about to start, the racers all turned toward the starting point and were beginning to accelerate as the starting gun went off. All the boats were at the starting line together, but the professional racer was already at top speed and instantly passed the others. By the first turn, he was clearly ahead and well on his way to winning the race.
You too need to be at top speed when you hit the starting line. Make it a practice to be a few minutes early to every appointment so you can get ready, physically and mentally, to hit the ground running. Those who race in at the last minute, often spend the first few minutes of the presentation gathering their thoughts and their materials.
Success Tip: Arrive a few minutes early for every appointment to give yourself time to get ready.
One of the great skills of a successful salesperson is their ability to concentrate. The Bible, one of the great sales manuals, says, “No man can serve two masters.” To be a success in selling, one must be absorbed by it, and devoted to it. He does best who eats, drinks, sleeps and lives selling until it gets into his mind, heart and blood stream. Then it will overflow into his eyes, face, handshake, actions — and wallet.
Rays of sunshine gently warm the earth. But concentrated through a magnifying glass, they can start a forest fire. Rain, spread over an entire city has little effect, but concentrate the rain in one place, and you have a powerful torrent, able to move anything in it’s path. Likewise, a salesperson who becomes destracted by sidelines, errands, and trivial pursuits is of little effect compared to the one who learns to focus his efforts and actions.
The Bible says, “A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.” When a sales person “sees double,” he gets into trouble, like the prize fighter who, after a bad licking, said, “Where I made my mistake was that I didn’t knock him out in the first round when he was alone.”
Success Tip: Supercharge your success with the power of a single purpose. Don’t let distractions rob you of your concentration.
Look for the Positive
Someone once said that if God had been a pessimist, there would be no planet earth. Think about it. Positive people are optimistic about the future and, as a result, often make have positive results. Negative people look at everything with a pessimistic attitude — looking for reasons why things won’t work, the result is they accomplish little of value.
Young adults are usually optimistic and positive, that’s why it is so refreshing to be around them. As we get older, and more experienced, however, many of us lose the positive outlook of our youth in favor of a more “realistic” point of view. Yet this kind of attitude spells failure for the sales professional.
Positive people radiate energy, enthusiasm, confidence, and a contagious optimism.
Success Tip: Look for the positive in every situation. Radiate a positive, optimistic attitude and shun those who delight in doubt and gloominess.
Don’t Take It Personally
A challenge that every sales professional has to deal with is rejection. The key is to not take “no” personally. Remember, the customer is not rejecting you, they are simply refusing your offer or product based on the knowledge that they currently have.
Those who take rejection personally soon find that they are paralized by fear. They worry so much about being rejected that they are unable to make the calls necessary to achieve success.
But, professional sales people have learned to accept a negative response without letting it make them feel as though they’ve failed. Although disappointed, they learn from it and have the confidence to try again. They have learned that a “no” means you are just that much closer to the next “yes!”
Success Tip: Learn to separate your own self-esteem from your product or service. Don’t see a negative response as failure, but as an opportunity to learn and grow.
Someone once said that closing is 70% enthusiasm. How could that be? What about product knowledge, persistence, and all of those closing techniques? Yes, they are important. But without enthusiasm, they have little power. They are like the car and enthusiasm is the gas. Nothing gives gusto to your presentation like sincere enthusiasm.
After all, selling, at its heart, is nothing more than a transferal of feeling. Successful sales professionals are able to get their prospect to have the same feeling about their product, the same product conviction, and the same kind of enthusiasm about the product as they themselves do. So, nurture your excitement. Show your enthusiasm. Learn everything that you can to boost your own belief and conviction. After all, if you’re not enthusiastic about your product, who will be?
Success Tip: Nurture sincere enthusiasm about your product, your company, and your presentation; and let your excitement show.