Archive Monthly Archives: December 2007

Happy Christmas

Happy Christmas everyone. My posts may be a little thin for the next few weeks as I am taking a rest. However if you subscribe to the blog you will be automatically notified of any updates.

I will be posting part two of the interview with Anthony Mosley soon. In the meantime I wish all super sales people the best of luck over the silly season and may you be keeping on top of your contacts, communicating professionally with your customers and above all keeping them informed. Keep “Making Major Sales”

Best Wishes

Steve

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First Contact

When a salesperson confronts a prospect for the very first time what should the sales introduction be?

There is a lot of paragraphs written on this particular subject and most seem to be on how you should introduce your product or service. Once again this is telling not selling and in my opinion the sales person should be interested enough in the customer to try and obtain a true understanding of the prospects business. Where have they come from, where are they going? what are their inspirations? Most people love talking about their business and without this information it is going to be impossible uncovering problems or needs. A classic example of poor selling skills is in the Real Estate business where agents attend open homes. In my experience as a prospective purchaser I have visited many and to this day I only recall ever being asked once, “why are you here today”?

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Advantages

When most people sell they are taught to show advantages of their product or service. To make matters worse they confuse these advantages with benefits.

In making a major sale the only way these type of statements are of any value is when a customer expresses a specific need that your product or service can provide.

Advantages have little value in making major sales. Benefits do however, and you must be clear on what a benefit is. (refer previous posts)

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Adding Value

These days it is extremely difficult for sales companies or even sales individuals to survive, it is also near impossible for either to prosper unless they can add value to a customer. Industries have dramatically changed over the last few years and many sales organizations have just rested on their laurels. Customers have become far more discerning, margins have diminished the competition have got better. Many sales organizations are now starting to understand that their mindset must change. Success now depends on their ability to create real value for their customers. Regular contact is absolutely essential, business must be earned not taken for granted.

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Nutshell Questions

What type of questions should you be asking when you are sitting in front of a customer for the very first time?

Many sales people just talk and have no real idea about the correct type of questions to ask. Many pages have been written on this subject with all sorts of conjecture about the merits of open and closed questions. In my opinion these issues are not important. The real issue is to understand your customer, understand their business in detail. Find out where they have come from and where they are going. What problems they have and above all what those problems actually mean to them or their business. Have you a product or service that can solve those problems? Have you uncovered an explicit need from the customer with a wish to resolve the problem? I see far too many salespeople just talk and show what they have, describe features with a few advantages thrown in but no idea how to find out if their product could have any clear benefit to the customer. Remember the customer must acknowledge a product or service could be of benefit otherwise it is only an advantage. Advantages do not make sales only benefits do.

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What do Industry Leaders Say?

In sales there are many different forms of judgment. The number of sales you make, your skill at obtaining referral’s, being number one producer in your organization or field, eliminating your debts, beating your competitors or fellow sales persons on “Making a major sale”. To me the most important judgment is your reputation.

When your industry talks does your name come up? Do they know who you are? If they do know of you what do they say about you?

Remember this well, industry leaders are buyers, if they are speaking well of you they will buy from you.

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My Personal Guarantee

I can guarantee more sales are lost by asking poor questions and poor salesmanship than lost to the lowest price.

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How to Keep Customers

Most businesses take their customers for granted. Most sales people do the same. Many companies waffle on about how much their customers love them but do nothing to keep them. In the distribution business it is always “Push Push Push” by the supplier. Being proactive seems very difficult for most people and believe it or not the problem seems more difficult when the customer actually does significant business. This is particularly the case with Real Estate agents when a developer may purchase many properties through the same agent or company. In other cases where a manufacturer supplies high value goods to a sole distributor in one particular country.

My recommendation would be to schedule at the very least quarterly meetings to determine how your customers expectations are being met. Maybe you could invite even the buyers and some of the users and or sellers. For instance if you sell to the owner of a retail store maybe the staff who sell your product or service have a completely different view compared to the business owner. Make certain yo

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A Missed Sale

Recently I went to a major retailer with the intention of purchasing a new Apple Mac Pro computer. I had a sincere desire to purchase.

I was looking at the various models on show and I suspected the prices advertised were higher than I had seen in most other stores. After a time spent looking I was finally approached by a salesman. “Can I help you” was his opening comment (great right)? Then I asked why the prices advertised were higher than elsewhere. The straight answer in return was “We do not give discounts” My immediate reaction was “I was not asking for a discount, I was asking why the prices were higher than elsewhere”.

I actually suspected the prices were higher because they were offering a no interest deal for 12 months. Regardless the salesman persisted down the track of just saying “We do not give discounts”. Naturally this really got my back up and next minute there was rather an uncomfortable scene when I really lost it with the guy. In the end I walked out of the store follwed by a rather assertive female store manager who was defending her idiot salesman. The following day I bought the computer from another store for cash at the correct retail price.

Retail selling of major items requires skill and understanding. “Making Major Sales” such as a computer, plasma screen, houses or aircraft require study. We need more retailers to focus on Sales Training and raise the level expected by customers like me.

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Loyalty

What are you doing to make certain you keep your customers? How often do you contact them? What do you really understand about them? What are some of the problems they have and what do those problems actually mean to them? How is their business affected by these problems? What can  your product or service do to solve them?

Well these are basic questions however it surprises me just how little of these questions are asked by sales people.

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