While I dispute the notion of sales as an “art,” there are, nevertheless, two basic sales techniques that must be prescribed to any sales person:
- Listen to what your prospect has to say. In other words, catch any/all expression(s) of interest on the part of a prospect. Make your need to learn the reasons why prospects express interest in your product or service a mandatory requirement of every sales call
- Always schedule a meeting of some sort with a prospect to discuss important points/milestones in your sales cycle
Following both of the above techniques will contribute substantially to the success of sales campaigns, especially sales campaigns for complex, enterprise products and services. Here’s why:
1. Structuring a sales meeting around an opportunity to learn, first hand, why a prospect is engaged in a sales process for a product or service requires that a sales person maintain an inquisitive, responsive and flexible posture throughout the meeting. Maintaining such a posture will, in turn, help to ensure that the subject of the meeting (meaning the product or service), itself, is not treated as a commodity by either party (neither the sales person nor the prospect). Consider that once the sales person commits him/herself to the posture just described, the importance (and overstated value) of product presentation will diminish. Once a sales person is listening/responding/flexing around what a prospect has to say, the discussion is elevated to a very specific conversation about the unique needs of a specific prospect. When needs are appreciated as unique they can rarely, if ever, be satisfied by a commodity that is designed to meet mass (and necessarily uniform) needs. By listening, a sales person has successfully elevated the product or service into the realm of custom solution with a demonstrable value to a specific, and unique customer.
2. Maintaining the discipline to discuss critical points in the sales campaign directly with the prospect protects the effort from the risk of self sabotage. In other words, sales personnel must make a rule that any and all discussions about order specifics, pricing, references, delivery, or impressions after a sale must be done in person, either on the telephone or face to face. Communicating a key point in an inappropriate manner can be symptomatic of a sales campaign that has been sabotaged from within itself. There are few problems that will as quickly undermine a sales effort as saying something the wrong way, or even worse, using the written word (in an email message, letter, etc) or a voice message to communicate a point that the prospect must directly understand for the sales campaign to progress.
© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2011 All Rights Reserved