These Are Habits of the Most Effective Salespeople

Anyone can tweak something and make it a little better. For 30 years I have been tweaking sales processes and customer satisfaction for companies. In some cases the tweaks were tiny and in other cases we rewrote the sales process of entire industries.

Here are 10 little tweaks that will make you more effective, no matter what you sell.

1. Focus on Problem Solving
People and companies buy things to solve problems. Salespeople should spend less time on selling the product and more time assuring the buyer the product or service will solve their problem. Get your sales pitch into a 30-second ad spot and reduce your pitch to just show how your product solves the problem. Think about teeth whitening; this product will get you whiter teeth in 24 hours, guaranteed. The pitch doesn’t get into what the ingredients are or even how the product works.

2. Look for Dominant Buying Motives
I have seen salespeople spend hours creating presentations and then become so dependent upon the slide show they are no longer aware of the vital buying signals from the prospect or the audience’s dominant buying motives. Ask your prospective client, “What are your top three reasons for looking at this product?”

3. Ask the Hard Questions
It is my experience that salespeople miss opportunities to build trust due to not asking the hard questions. I was on a sales call with one of my top representatives and sensed that the decision maker wasn’t buying the presentation. I interrupted with, “You don’t believe a word of what he is saying, do you?” The client started laughing and said that was exactly what he was thinking. You have to ask these types of questions: “How do you feel about our price?” “How do you feel about our terms?” “Why would you do business with me, when you have dealt with our competitor for so long?” If you don’t get the answers to the hard questions, you will find yourself not closing deals and never knowing why.

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4. Price Never Closes a Sale
“No one buys a price, ever!” Make this something you live and die by and you will make more sales. I have been in sales my entire adult life and have been tricked by thousands of buyers who said, “Price was the only issue.” While a lower price may be necessary to close a sale, you must eliminate the idea that a lower price is THE reason buyers close. Even with a buyer that is obsessed with ‘only the price’ and claims the budget cannot be violated, you must make it your firm policy to know that almost every buyer will pay more for the right solution to his problem.

5. The Intention to Close
When I start a presentation I make my intention clear to the prospect: “Thanks for your time today; my goal is to have my product in your company’s hands by the end of this week.” The customer usually then tells me they have no intention of doing anything that quickly, at which point I simply say, “I understand, I just wanted you to know my intention.” If the buyer is going to close, it will be because of you, not because of them. Make your intentions clear early in the sale.

6. Break Your Sale Into 5 Segments
I noticed my sales team continued presenting long after the buyer had seen enough. So I took all of our presentations apart and broke them into five stages. At the end of each stage I require them to ask, “Have you seen enough information to make a decision?” This worked like a miracle and customers would say, “No, I haven’t,” allowing the sales person to continue with the presentation or we found out we didn’t even have the right decision makers in the room. In other cases the buyer closed 80% faster than they did before.

7. Initiate Price Before the Buyer Asks
In prior sales training schools of thought, we were taught to build value, and then show the price. What I found is this results in a buyer, no matter how intrigued about the product, who will be wondering about price during your presentation, unable to focus on evaluating price against your product’s value. So we reverse it and present price up front. For instance, we sell a training product over the telephone to sales organizations and before we actually show the product we initiate our pricing so the customer knows the investment required. It goes like this, “Before I get into how my product will increase your sales by at least 20%, I want to share with you our pricing so you can think with it while I show you our product.”

I have had customers tell me at this point, “We would never spend that much money,” at which point I say, “I understand—price is the easiest part of my job. Allow me to show you why we are the number one solution in the marketplace and how we can increase your sales 20%.”
Bringing price up early makes you look confident, shows you have nothing to hide, and takes out the mystery from the process. The only reason not to bring up price is because you, yourself are not be sold on it. Oh, by the way, go back and revisit #4.

8. Involve Influencers
I have made the mistake, many times, where I put too much attention on the decision maker and missed the influencers. Ask, “Who else other than yourself will influence your decision or would you like to be involved in this decision?” And then find out what is important to those around the decision maker so you can get their support.

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9. Quit Using Free Trials—Close the Sale
I have tried the free trial approach and wanted to believe the buyer would just simply close after using my product for free. The only way this works is if you are able to scale out to hundreds of millions of people. Free trials without a commitment to invest money at some point in the future become cash flow problems for the company that offers them. Grow up and close the deal, because giving your product away for free will break your company. The only thing free at a grocery store is walking into it, and even that requires an investment of time and energy.

10. Practice Urgency, Insist on the Close
Too many sales organizations don’t insist on closing a deal for fear of appearing to be a nuisance. If you truly believe in your company, product or service, you must learn how to insist on closing the transaction—now. I have made the mistake too many times of not insisting on urgency and then having some unforeseen event, beyond my control, steal my deal. I talk about the importance of insistence to close the sale extensively in my books Sell or Be Sold and The Closer’s Survival Guide.

I would love to see your comments below about these.

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