What, does the term “Selling” mean to you? I decided to see how the various dictionaries define Selling–beyond the obvious. Paraphrasing what I found, Selling is “to persuade or influence to a course of action or to the acceptance of something; to bring about or cause to be accepted; to advocate successfully.”
Persuade. Influence. Advocate. To sell-and to do it consistently and successfully-you must communicate ideas to the prospective client. To really draw them into the process, you must first listen, then ask, and answer questions. Communicating is not the same as telling,just as hearing is not the same as listening. Indeed, if you measure a reps performance only by the number of calls they make, you may not adequately be emphasizing the distinction between holding a conversation with someone, and simply speaking with them. That’s becausetalking is not the same as conversing.
How can you be sure that each call you make turns into a brilliant conversation?
Question with precision
These are the four simple and succinct rules for holding a brilliant conversation. Consider them the rules of sales engagement. I recognize that consistently following these rules is not so simple, and requires a practiced degree of skill and adaptability. Lack of the skills or knowledge to pull it off is one major reason why a proven majority of calls, have poor or marginal-at-best outcomes. Relevancy, by its own definition, requires knowledge of the prospect, and keen awareness of their specific needs. Questioning with precision requires knowledge of the topic, and on numerous levels. Proving interest requires honest intent, as well as a perception of commitment. And providing value certainly requires homework.
Just remember that your conversational brilliance will be measured in two very significant ways-whether the prospect agrees to take the next step (whatever that may be) and, more importantly, the degree of enthusiasm accompanying their acceptance.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself to ensure you follow the rules and have a brilliant conversation every time.
- Have we worked with others at the prospect’s company?
- Do we have any clients from the same industry as the prospect?
- How do those clients use our product/service?
- How have they benefited?
- What are the typical challenges the companies in the same industry face?
- What issues are relevant to people with similar job-titles?
Question with precision
- What questions can I ask that will demonstrate knowledge of the prospect’s industry?
e.g. “Research has shown that for your industry (cite research). What can you tell me about your experience?”
- What questions can I ask that will help the prospect to elaborate on their challenges?
e.g. “You mentioned that you need to manage leads more effectively, is it the quality of leads that is your biggest concern or the quantity?”
- What questions can I ask that will uncover their level of motivation for solving the problem?
e.g. “What are you doing today, to address (the challenge)? What results are you experiencing so far?”
- What can I say or ask that will let the prospect know they are not just a name on my prospect list?
- What can I say or ask that will let the prospect know I’m not interested in forcing a fit between our solutions and their needs.
- How can I respond to their questions without turning it into a pitch?
- Can I give specific examples of how others in similar circumstances are addressing the same challenges?
- What kind of research might I offer that will be insightful?
- What tools (articles, checklists, whitepapers) can I volunteer to send to help them think through the topic at hand?
- Do I know of a recent event the prospect would likely find valuable to know about?
- Do I know someone that the prospect would likely have an interest in meeting?
Transforming a mere conversation with a prospect into one of meaningful and lasting brilliance requires a tactical adherence to those four critical components – relevance, precision, interest and value. Each of these elements certainly requires further augmentation in order to animate and motivate a prospect toward a desired conclusion.
And herein lies the ‘art’ of the process. It is all about building the ‘quality’ of the rapport, discovering a client’s real objectives and goals, and clearly illustrating the full impact and reality of your solution. Balance your persuasiveness, influence, and advocacy with insightful inquiry and analysis of your prospect’s point of view. Most of all, keep in mind that your conversational performance will mean nothing if it is not built upon the foundation of trust. If you gain status as a trusted advisor, the prospect’s belief in your product and solution will surely follow, and your brilliance will shine long after you hang up the phone or leave the building.