Tag Archive | "salesperson"

Why Straightforward Salespeople Close More Deals

Like any good salesperson, about once a year I take time to survey and interview my customers (and their customers). Common statements about what makes a good salesman include following up and good customer service. But what seems to be mentioned the most is, “I want a straight shooter, a rep who puts it all on the table with no surprises and no BS.”

Simply put, tell it like it is, and you’ll reap the benefits. (Better communication, stronger relationships, trust, dependability and an overall comfort level with the partnership.) Here are some insights on how to know if you’re telling it like it is.

Are you trying to please everyone? 
Let me share a bit of wisdom from Bill Cosby. He said there are many ways to succeed, but “the key to failure is trying to please everybody.” And if you think you can please everyone, see Arthur Miller’s play, Death of a Salesman. Realistically, there are some people we just can’t please. Maybe what we’re selling does not fit into their needs at the time, the account is not qualified as a true prospect, or they just don’t like you. Great salespeople know when to move on and do not change their values or beliefs for someone just to please them or close the sale. They don’t take it personally, either, because there are so many reasons involved in why someone selects you over the competition.

We like reps who have confidence in what they do, what they sell and the value they bring to the sale. We like the ones who have the confidence to share information that others think might jeopardize or cost them the sale (and sometimes it does). But the way you build a strong relationship with a qualified individual is to be straightforward with your advice. I like to be sold that way, and I’m sure you do, also.

Do you tell people what you sell? 
Have you ever been pitched (in person or over the phone) by someone, and it takes you several questions to finally figure out what they are selling? It’s frustrating and starts the relationship off on the wrong foot.

Sometimes we try to use fancy words because we don’t want a response like, “We have one already,” or “We don’t need any widgets here.”

Your pitch should be right to the point and easy to understand. No gimmicks, fancy words or vague statements. Here’s an example:

“Hi Steve, I was wondering if you can help me out. I’m with XYZ Company and we sell/market _____.”(Tell them exactly what you sell.) “I am trying to reach the person who handles this; who would that be?”

Keep it simple and short. We sell “x” and we’ve helped companies like yours with (insert your key benefit). They know your name, your company name and what product you sell. Your goal on this initial call is to sell the appointment, not your product.

Do you know when to walk away? 
”Lisa, thanks for giving me the time for our meeting today. Based on your budget and requirements I don’t think our services would best meet your needs. I’d like to recommend another vendor who would be a terrific fit for what you’re looking for.”

There is nothing that builds more trust in a relationship then telling your prospect or customer that what you sell is not the best solution for their current situation. Maybe you recommend the competition or another business that carries a better long-term solution. That customer will not only appreciate your candid response but will never again question your advice in the future. In these situations, often they will refer you to some of their contacts, and there is nothing more valuable than that kind of introduction. No one likes losing an opportunity for business. But when that opportunity is a bad fit and you press forward anyway, you risk losing repeat business and something much more valuable, your reputation. I’d much rather lose one battle and win the war.

Do you seek out the superstars? 
Every company, every industry has someone who performs at the top of the field. Find out who these people are and try to connect with them; get their advice and emulate their selling style. Their experience will give you valuable lessons on how they “tell it like it is” with their clients (and believe me, they do). I’ve made it a habit to speak with the top reps in each company I do business with and have always found that they have a style that is bone honest and upfront with their contacts. When you start surrounding yourself with successful people, their strategies and approaches rub off on you.

Being straightforward in your sales approach is a breath of fresh air for most customers. They see you as someone they can trust and always know where you stand. If you want to be great in sales, establish your character first.

This article was written by Barry Farber and published in Entrepreneur magazine.

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Closing Through the Buyer’s Eyes

Years ago, I spoke at a banquet for top salespeople. Before I gave my talk, the speaker introduced someone in the audience and said, “This man earned twice the national average in sales last year…” The speaker’s manner suggested that it was quite an achievement. But, considering the large number of successful sales professionals in the room, that feat wasn’t all that impressive, so everyone craned their necks and looked at the man in puzzlement. The next words out of the speakers’ mouth made all the difference. He said, “and he’s totally blind.”

There was a burst of applause. Then, the speaker said, “I’m sure many of us are wondering how you got into the top third in sales achievement with your handicap.”

“Wait a minute,” the blind man replied, “I don’t have a handicap. I have an advantage over every other salesperson in my field. I have never seen a product I’ve sold, so I have to close through my buyers’ eyes. What I do is what all of you sighted people could do. And you’d make more money if you did.”

He’s 100% correct. You must see the benefits, the features and the limitations of your vehicles from the buyer’s viewpoint. You must weigh them on their scale of values, not yours.

Get yourself out of the way

Potential clients don’t come to your dealership to find out what you like. They don’t know you and don’t care what you drive…unless you drive a competitor’s vehicle. If you do, don’t mention it. It will make them doubt your sincerity as you tout the benefits of Brand A when you’ve just told them you drive Brand B. Also, if you would drive a Brand A vehicle but can’t afford it, don’t tell them. They’ll wonder just how good a salesperson you are. Don’t do or say anything that might raise their sales resistance.

Always keep in mind that people don’t just buy your vehicles. They buy the dealership’s reputation. They buy the brand credibility. And, they buy you. They need to feel that you’re a product of the product—that you truly believe in what you sell.
People will say yes to you based more on your conviction and enthusiasm than your product knowledge. If you don’t truly love the vehicle brand and models that you sell, you need to either fall in love with them or find another brand to represent. Your lack of love for what you do will show and instill something other than confidence in your potential buyers.

Don’t tell them what you like about the vehicles

Stop turning potential buyers off by saying, “What I like most about this feature is…” As I said, they don’t care what you like. They need you to care about what they like…and want…and need.

The only way to learn what their needs are is to ask questions. Typical automotive salespeople think their job is to capture the clients when they walk in, ask generally what they’re looking for and quickly start walking in the direction of those models.

Champion automotive salespeople don’t do that until they’ve gotten the buyer talking about what their new vehicle needs to do for them. The only talking you should be doing at this point in the sales cycle is asking questions.

  • “What brought you in to our dealership today?”
  • “Are you interested in a new vehicle, or were you thinking of something used?”
  • “What type of driving do you do? Mostly in town or longer highway driving?”
  • “Do you typically carry a lot of cargo? Or, are you more likely to have a car full of passengers?”
  • “What type of gas mileage do you get in your current vehicle? Is that an important aspect of your decision today?”

Do you see how these types of questions help you mentally filter through the hundreds of vehicles on the lot? Even if Jim Martin comes in saying he wants a new 4-wheel-drive truck, you may learn that Jim’s wife is expecting their first child soon and that they’ll need an extended cab at the least…something young Jim may not be thinking of because he’s always had a single-cab truck and likes them.

Mary Porter may come in wanting something sporty, but in drawing her out, you learn that she has two big dogs that she takes along on trips out of town on the weekends. In that case, the definition of “sporty” just went from being a two-seater to something larger, didn’t it?

You are an expert advisor in the automotive industry. When people talk about their needs, you think solutions. Most of your potential clients will make vehicle ownership decisions once every 2 – 3 years. You are involved in those decisions daily and know so much from the experience your clients have with their vehicles. You think beyond basic wants and needs and go deeper into what’s truly going to be the best choice.

There’s an old saying that “Knowledge is power, when properly applied.” Keep that in the forefront of your mind when you speak with potential buyers. The better you are at seeing the vehicle purchase through their eyes, the more likely you are to help them make a wise decision about not only this vehicle, but their next vehicle…and the one after that.

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Artful Questioning

Many automotive salespeople, who haven’t yet reached the professional stage, think professional selling is exactly the opposite of what it really is. They get started. They learn the product and what the special offers are, then push them on the next client who comes into the dealership.

When you entered the selling field, you may have thought, “Now my job is to talk and talk and talk.” So off you go. “Here it is folks. The single best answer to your driving needs. Oh, you’re going to love it. You’d better get one now before we run out of inventory!”

The professional automotive salesperson, the true champion, realizes that people have two ears and one mouth, and that they should be used in those proportions. This means that after talking for 10 seconds, you switch your mouth off, switch your ears on, and listen for 20 seconds. This also means that instead of overwhelming your future client with your knowledge of the automotive industry and your particular line of vehicles that, you encourage them to tell you what they know, what they need and what they want.

Let’s compare the two methods.

The average salesperson sounds something like this:

  • “This is the best truck there is on the market today. Nothing can touch it. We’ve also got the best deals because we’re miles ahead of the competition. You’d might as well get it now and not waste your time looking any further.”
  • “Our dealership will do more for you than any of the others. You really should buy from us.”
  • “This special pricing is only available for a few more days. Why waste your time shopping around? You can’t get anything like this for less.”

When salespeople say things like that, they’re doing nothing more than adding to the old stereotype of car salespeople as being right up there with lawyers on the list of people you least want to spend your time with.

When they use such aggressive methods, what are they doing? They’re pushing, aren’t they? They’re nagging, pleading, arguing. They’re telling potential clients things they may not care to hear. They’re trying to ram obvious self-serving statements down the potential clients’ throats. In effect, they are saying, “I’m out to make you buy something. The only reason I’m doing that is to put money in my pocket, and I don’t care whether what you buy helps you or not. I’ve got a quota to meet.”

True champions, those who make successful long-term careers in the automotive business realize that telling isn’t selling. Champion salespeople never make customers feel they’re being pushed for the simple reason that they never push. What they do instead is lead. They find out by asking questions where the buyer wants to go. Then, they take them there.

Champions lead their prospects from the initial contact to happy involvement in new or used vehicles by not talking all of the time, but by listening most of the time, and by asking artful questions. In all this alert and pointed questioning, the true professional maintains a friendly attitude of interest and understanding that encourages the prospect to open up and give the desired information freely.

They ask questions about the current vehicle or vehicles they own. They ask about past vehicles the clients may have loved. Current needs as to length of time on the road, number of passengers, cargo space requirements, safety and economy are all considered. Top professionals come across as expert advisors whose only focus is finding the right vehicle at the right investment involving the shortest time period possible. It’s all about the time and convenience of the client.

Have you ever been surprised at how freely you’ve talked to certain salespeople before buying from them? They were alert and interested. You felt comfortable with them. Recalling those conversations, you may think you were leading and the salesperson was following. Superficially, that may have been true. In a deeper sense, however, that professional salesperson was leading all the way and you were following all the way.

How did that happen? The champion sales professional encourages you to start off in your direction of interest. Once you set your direction, he or she gets smoothly in front and begins to lead you toward any of several open paths to purchase. When artful questioning reveals which of the several paths is best, the champion guides you smoothly and warmly to the best solution they have to offer for your needs. Because you don’t feel you’re being sold, you are choosing to own!

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Hiring Your First Salesperson: How to Pass the Torch

In the early days, you handled finance, production, shipping and marketing. Oh, yes – you were the lone salesperson, too. All of this went along with the title of president.

As the company grew, you hired people to replace you in areas like marketing and finance. Through all the personnel changes, though, you continued in the role of sales representative.

Recently, you hired the company’s first dedicated sales representative. Employees and members of your executive roundtable group encouraged you to do so — and, though reluctant, deep down you knew it was the right move.

Surprisingly, giving up the position of sales representative has been far more difficult than you anticipated. How do you let go of your former responsibilities and forge a good relationship with the new hire?

1. Be realistic.
This new salesperson is neither owner nor president. They aren’t taking over the company; they’re assuming your responsibilities in one key area only. They are an employee who comes to work each day.

Yes, you can and should expect them to work hard and show loyalty to the organization. If you’ve hired a money-motivated sales representative, they will come in early and stay late to get deals closed.

They won’t necessarily share your level of passion. They have neither the financial nor the emotional investment you’ve made in the organization. Avoid disappointment by adjusting your expectations for the new salesperson.

2. Set goals.
Forget about what you might have accomplished in a fiscal year from a sales perspective. Think about what’s reasonable to expect from your new sales representative in their first year with the organization.

Talk to peers and advisors, executives at your company and the salesperson. Set minimum standards for their productivity. As an example:

Sales Goals
Sales activity Q1 Q2
Appointments 12 36
Product Demos 8 24
Proposals 4 12
Closed Sales 2 6


If the goals prove to be too easy or too aggressive, make adjustments periodically. Do everything you can to help the sales rep hit these targets.

3. Don’t hog all the large accounts.
Whether it’s ego (“no one else knows what Account XYZ needs but me”) or fear (“if we lose that account it could be disastrous”), many company presidents continue to act as the sales representative for the largest accounts. With a few accounts it might make sense. But in the majority of cases, you should be turning these customers over to the new sales representative.

It’s normal to be apprehensive about trusting someone else to call on these valued clients. To ease your nerves, accompany the new salesperson on the first few calls and then hand them the reigns when you feel they are ready. Check in with the customer from time to time to ensure that everything is going well.

But do turn most of the accounts over. As president, you should be acting as the ambassador of your company and networking at the peer level. It’s not the best use of your time to remain involved in all of the day-to-day selling.

4. Meet, but don’t compete.
Resist the urge to compare their progress with yours. (“You’ve only closed two accounts since you’ve been here? When I started the company, I closed five accounts in the first month alone.”)

Conversations like these demoralize salespeople. Given the product knowledge and industry contacts you might have had before starting the company, they may never be able to top your early successes.

Instead of starting a rivalry, establish yourself as a mentor for the new salesperson. Call or stop by and ask them how their day is going. Inquire about the progress they’re making with a new prospect. Offer support and advice if they’re struggling to set an appointment or close a sale with a particular company.

As the leader of the company, the salesperson knows that you know what you’re talking about from a product and market standpoint. Share your considerable industry expertise with them in a constructive way that works for you both.

The new salesperson knows they are replacing you in a sales capacity. Understandably, they’ll be somewhat uneasy about this. Give the salesperson all the assistance, praise, constructive criticism and information possible. They will appreciate the effort to help them succeed and pay you back with solid sales production.

This article was written by Suzanne Paling and published in the Entrepreneur magazine.

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