Tag Archives: sales meeting

Practice your fundamental sales skills

ScalesMy nine-year old came home from gymnastics the other day complaining bitterly that her coach had made her practice ‘millions’ of cartwheels when she is perfectly capable of doing a round off flick tuck back (or some such complicated gymnastic tumble!) I tried to explain that even the best gymnasts have to practice the basic skills to improve on the more complex ones, just like great musicians still practice their scales.

Coincidentally I came across the same message related to the business world, and sales techniques in particular. This short video from Cranfield University explains how important it is to get your core skills to the highest possible level and to keep on practicing the fundamentals if you are to become a better sales person.

It’s well worth the 4 minutes it will take you to watch.

Image: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

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Turning conversations into sales

I had yet another telesales call this week that reminded me why some of the basic sales training I undertook in my early days is still valid today. It went something like this…

  • Telesales guy : Can I speak to the business owner?
  • Me: Yes, that’s me.
  • Telesales guy: Oh good. Do you have an epos machine?
  • Me: No
  • Telesales guy: Would you like to have an epos machine if the monthly charges were lower?
  • Me: No
  • Telesales guy: Oh. Wouldn’t it help your business to have an epos machine?
  • Me: No
  • Telesales guy: Oh. OK. Bye then.

It doesn’t take a genius to work out that you won’t get very far by asking a series of closed questions, yet we all fall into the trap from time to time. I watched an experienced newsreader just last night trying to interview an eight year old boy using closed questions. It was painful. The boy, who was clearly dying to tell his story, was prevented from doing so by the interviewers ineptitude.

Closed questions do have their place of course, and they are great for:

  • Gaining factual information, as in: Am I speaking to the business owner?
  • Clarifying that you have understood a situation, as in:  So am I right in thinking that you don’t currently have a marketing plan?
  • Getting a desired positive answer, as in: Would you like to generate more business?
  • Seeking to close a deal or teasing out an objection, as in: Would you sign today if I were able to deliver next Tuesday?

If ultimately you are trying to sell something, you will need to use a mix of open and closed questions to really develop the conversation. The good news is that most of us do this naturally in a social situation, which is perhaps why people who are genuinely interested in others often make good sales people. With a little self awareness and preparation you can hone the questioning techniques that you are probably already using and start to turn your conversations into natural sales opportunities.

How (not) to sell

This week I was involved in two, quite different, sales situations with two vastly different outcomes (for the sales person that is). Coming out of one meeting feeling irritated and somewhat patronised,  and the other feeling excited and energised, I set to thinking about what makes a good sales person.

Here are four really very simple rules:

  • Be prepared. Yep, as every boy scout will tell you, this really is fundamental. No excuses here, it’s so easy. Ask what your client wants to get out of the meeting, who will be attending and what their role will be. Google them, you may even find a mutual connection.
  • Listen. Find out what your client or potential client needs and then, and only then, tell them how you can solve their problem. Avoid at all cost lengthy lectures about your wonderful, yet totally irrelevant, credentials.
  • Never assume. It’s the oldest one in the book. Focus your attention  equally amongst the individuals in the meeting. It’s not always easy to spot the decision makers and influencers.
  • Be professional. Well that’s obvious isn’t it? Not always it would appear. Bring something to take notes with; can you really remember everything you client has told you in an hour-long meeting? Arrive on time, have a business card, dress appropriately. Small things that make a big difference to how you are perceived.

You are right, these are all easily achievable, and should come as second nature to most business people. It just takes a little forethought.