Some time ago, I attended a Tom Hopkins ‘Boot Camp’ in the USA. This is one of the world’s greatest sales courses and runs for 3 days. There were 800 people attending (I was the only South African/Brit) and the amazing thing was that these were not beginners attending, but some of the world’s top sales people from every walk of life. Some had returned for the 13th time and the sole purpose was to get back to basics.
Working with top sales people in 48 countries, these are some of the basic skills that I have discovered helps them to be top in their fields.
Top sales people are master prospectors. They are not afraid of cold calling and are socially mobile. They belong to sports clubs, social clubs (Round Table, etc) and have an inbuilt antenna in locating new prospects. They can differentiate very quickly between prospects and suspects and will spend their time with the best-qualified prospects.
I have very rarely met someone who loves making appointments on the phone. Top salespeople have developed the habit of phoning regularly.
Dress for Success
It doesn’t matter what you sell, you need to dress appropriately. I work with many professionals and the standard dress code is that of the City of London. Dark suits, white shirt, conservative tie and clean, black lace up shoes.
Be very aware of body odour and halitosis (bad breath). It is very inexpensive to buy ‘Gold Spot’ and spray your mouth before each call. I recently went to a well know high street electrical store to purchase and expensive piece of hi-fi equipment. I was knocked out (and nearly sick) by the salesman’s bad breath and quickly left the store and purchased the equipment elsewhere. Here was someone with no idea on the basics, losing his company a lot of money. Remember, you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.
People love to talk about themselves and whenever I meet someone for the first time, I firstly ask them how they got started. I then ask about their present situation and where they see themselves in the future. At this stage, I can learn more about them than at any other time. The important thing is to keep quiet and listen. I also realise that there are a number of things on the prospect’s mind when I first meet such as, who am I, how credible I am, the background of my company and what’s in it for him and me. My introduction is as follows (after past, present and future).
“In preparing for today’s meeting, I thought there may be some questions on your mind such as ‘who am I, who is my company and what’s in it for you and me,” at which stage they always nod in agreement. I tell him about myself and my qualifications (this is the only time I talk about myself and most professionals like to deal with other professionals). I then go on to tell the prospect about my company. Following that comes ‘what’s in it for you’ when I say quite simply that I would like to take a look of where they or their company are right now and where they would like to be in the future and to help them achieve these goals. ‘What’s in it for me?’ “I get paid in two ways, firstly if you think my proposals are feasible, I would like you to place the business with me and secondly, whether we do business or not, I would like you to refer me to 2 or 3 other people/companies similar to you.”
Questioning and Listening
Most top salespeople are master questioners and excellent listeners. These are the tools of their trade and enable them to find out what is really important to their client.
Lighting the fire
All successful salespeople know how to ‘light the fire and ignite the passion’ that will enable the prospect to buy. They realise how important emotions are in the sales process and sell the benefits of their product or service.
Statistics show that most top salespeople close on their fifth attempt. Mediocre salespeople don’t even know 5 closes.
On the Tom Hopkins sales course, we were all expected to learn 27 closes verbatim as well as the importance of overcoming objections and uncovering the real and underlying objection to proceeding with the sale immediately. If every step of the sales process is followed correctly, the close is the natural progression. Please go to www.frankfurness.com/closingscripts.cfm to download 39 sales closing scripts.
The power of words
Most people have been conditioned to react either positively or negatively by the use of certain words. An example is ‘I would like to make an appointment’. Who do you make an appointment with: doctors, dentists and other people out to hurt you? Rather use, ‘I’d be happy to drop by/pop in (as friends do). ‘Sign the contract’ is something we’ve all been warned about. Rather use ‘Please authorise the paperwork’. Always be aware of your ‘sales language’.
All successful people are proud of their professions and love selling. This becomes very evident to the prospects.
Selling skills and enthusiasm count for 85% of the sale. If you are boring, tired or not in the mood to sell, you will never be amongst the elite of salespeople.
Top professionals deliver what they promise. Their levels of excellent service ensure that their client will never ‘shop’ elsewhere and they will in turn provide a constant source of referrals.
Top salespeople have fun and look forward to each day. They have great senses of humour. When I first started selling 20 years ago, I had an appointment with a schoolteacher. On arriving at her house, her little sister told me to sit and wait in the lounge as her sister was taking a shower. Five minutes later, she came walking through the lounge drying her hair, stark naked! She looked up and saw me, ran out and locked herself in a bedroom and shouted ‘go away, I don’t want to see you’. Well I left without a sale, but that’s when I realised ‘money isn’t everything!’
Frank Furness CSP CFP is a professional speaker and trainer specialising in sales and sales management. He has educated, entertained and inspired audiences in 52 countries.