Make up Your Mind and Improve Your Sales Techniques, Part 3

The second article in this series continued to elaborate on the key attitudes salespeople should adopt if they want get to the top and stay there. It focused specifically on the importance of managing, versus being managed by your time. The piece then went on to discuss how critical it is to know precisely what your time is worth.

Sales tips and techniquesIn the third installment of this five-part series, I will cover why honesty and intelligence in our sales efforts will result in financial and professional rewards. I’ll also discuss why each sales interaction with your customers must be a win for both of you. These are points 5 and 6 from the Make Up Your Mind essay…

5. That honest, intelligent effort is always rewarded.

Each year a survey is conducted among customers across a diverse number of industries. These surveys are focused on what customers value and demand from the salespeople they decide to work with and trust. Guess what attribute tops the list year after year after year? Honesty.

None of us wants to say no to a customer. We also don’t like to deliver bad news regarding a commitment we’ve made, product we’ve recommended, or professional advice we’ve given to a customer. This most often revolves around our fear of losing their business or incurring their wrath over the mishap. Quite often this fear is unjustified. Customers understand that mistakes will be made and will forgive the event (assuming that this type of thing isn’t chronic).

What customers will not forgive is you lying to them. Losing a customer’s business over a mistake may happen, but there is something much larger at stake than lost business, and that is the loss of respect and trust. Hard work and persistence may make it possible to get your customer back. But once broken, respect and trust are rarely restored. Here is a rule that has no exception: Always tell your customers the truth!

They may not like what you have to say and they may bite your head off over the event, but keep in mind that they will more than likely have to deliver bad news to their customer because of your lapse in service. Put yourself in their place. How would you feel if mistakes (yours or those completely out of your control) caused a problem with your customer? You’d be upset. Now contrast that with how you feel when someone lies to you. Mistakes are accidents, but lying is intentional. Don’t do it.

6. That it is to always be a “win-win” encounter.

Customers always want more and they want it better, faster and cheaper. That’s good because it drives the development of better products, processes and service. However, it is a proven fact that a business needs to make a reasonable profit if it expects to deliver better products quickly and with a high level of customer service.

If a company can’t continuously invest in itself, it can’t maintain its competitive edge versus the competition, win new customers and keep current customers delighted. Top tier sales professionals must be adept at communicating to their customers the value of the solutions they provide and the service they deliver. In short, the customer must be shown that their relationship with you is worth far more than they are paying and they must be continuously reminded of this fact.

Expand the conversation with your customer. Detail for them everything they get for the price they pay. Show them how their relationship with you is a smart investment, not simply an exchange of products for money. Demonstrate to them that when you win, they win even more! It’s your job to always make the conversation about value, not price. You’ll know you’ve succeeded when you both win, encounter after encounter.

In part four of this series, I’ll cover the importance of keeping your presentation simple, and why helping is better than selling. For Part 1, click here, and for Part 2, click here.

Until next time…

The Art of the Serendipity Sales Pitch

Serendipity is defined as good fortune, luck, or an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident. I prefer the Serendipity Pitch over the traditional Elevator Pitch.

If you’re in sales, you know the drill. A hard to reach customer just happens to get on an elevator with you. You both get on at the bottom floor and are headed to the top. It will give you a precious minute of uninterrupted one-on-one time with this impossible to reach customer. The clock’s ticking. What do you say that gets you the appointment, or better yet, a sale right on the spot?

In many ways, I’m old school when it comes to what you need in your sales tool box. Skills like active listening, strong questioning techniques and efficient time management are timeless. Perhaps the most important of these fundamental skills is preparation. Being prepared frees up the mind. It allows us to process information we are getting from a customer, without having to think about facts we should already know.

You’d think these key skills would be a must for today’s sales pros. Think again. In today’s selling environment, technology is making many salespeople lazy. Email and texts have served to erode the quality of writing skills. Smart phones and tablets flood us with data, but do very little to convert that information into knowledge. Attention to detail and well-honed skills are a mark of the 20 percent of salespeople who are doing 80 percent of the business.

Point of View
When creating your Serendipity Pitch, it’s very important to think like the other person in the conversation. While the traditional version of this scenario focuses on you speaking with a hard to reach customer, what if the person receiving the information isn’t a customer?

Imagine you’re attending a dinner party and one of the folks at the party (a lawyer) asks you, “So what do you do?” Obviously, the information you provide to the lawyer will be different than the information you deliver to the potential customer. Both are important. While the lawyer may not be a potential customer – though you never know; he may need courtroom graphics at some point – ultimately, he may know someone who would benefit from your product or service.

A well crafted Serendipity Pitch provides the lawyer all the information they may need to positively present you to their friend. It’s because of this fact that I always create two versions of my pitch. I create one for someone who fundamentaly understands the products I offer, and one for someone who doesn’t.

Get to the Verb
I love this phrase! This one comes from LexJet’s founder, Art Lambert, who’s a very successful sales executive and entreprenuer. I believe his phrase sums up the mind of the customer perfectly. Customers are busy, so get to the point.

What does he mean by the verb? It means you need to give the customer a reason to listen to you… now. Who are you? What do you want from me? Why should I invest my time listening to you? How does what you propose/offer benefit my business? How much will I save with your solution? When may I expect these savings to my bottom line? When speaking to our proverbial lawyer you want to convert his casual and polite inquiry into genuine interest.

Ditch the Pitch
When making their pitch, most people rattle off a list of their responsibilities or the products and services their company provides, kind of like Bubba Blue in Forrest Gump: “There’s shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There’s pinapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich. That… That’s about it.”

Like Bubba, our tendency is to say everything we do because we do so much. There’s certainly value in everything you do, but here’s what happens… The more information you provide, the less memorable you become, unless you’re Bubba Blue.

So, the perfect pitch is not a pitch at all; it’s really conversational messaging. It’s relaxed, fairly informal and, most importantly, it boils everything you do down to its essense. Moreover, it communicates the value of what you do in practical terms to the person with whom you’re speaking.

Ask for the Order
Don’t waste your minute with meaningless chatter. Get to the point, be confident and be direct about what you want. It communicates to the customer you value his time, you know your stuff and Key sales pitch bullet pointsyou believe in what you’re selling. Regarding the lawyer, ask if he knows of anyone who might benefit from your solution.

I’ve included a graphic in this post that helps us focus on the key elements of our pitch. It’s called the Relationship Revolver and it includes the six “bullets” we want to communicate during our conversation.

Briefly, these are the descriptions of the bullet points:

  • We sell products
  • We help customers
  • We build relationships
  • We create value
  • We share knowledge
  • We invest to continuously expand our capability to serve you

I started this post with the defintion of serendipity and that I prefer it over the term elevator. Now I’ll tell you why… Invest time learning about your customer. Be well prepared. Be confident. Practice until it feels natural. When you’ve done these things, the customer lucky enough to have stepped onto that elevator will be the one experiencing serendipity.

Have fun, make money…