I just lied to you when I said I could tell you how to sell anything to anyone. Right there, in the title, I told a lie. But I have a reason. You see, I’m tired of ads popping up on my Facebook page and my LinkedIn profile promising “THE SECRET TO CLOSING EVERY DEAL AT THE HIGHEST PROFIT EVER!” “WORKS EVERY TIME!” I’ve had it up to here, because if someone tells you that anything “WORKS EVERY TIME!” in sales, they’re lying to you. Nothing “works every time” in sales, because we sell to human beings with their own frames of reference, worldviews, needs, and perceived solutions.
Those ads are designed to sell one thing – whatever course they are peddling. They sell to salespeople who are desperate and want a “magic button” solution. Hint – there is no magic button. I’m sure that there is some benefit in all of these courses, but their “works every time” promise will always remain unfulfilled. In fact, I’ve had people advise me to sell my own training that way, and I simply refuse. I have more respect for your intellect than that. With all of that said, let’s talk about a 5-step program that will actually increase your sales – a program you can implement on your own in a couple of hours a week. And best of all, I’m not going to charge you for this program; I’m giving this knowledge to you. The work is up to you.
Successful selling happens in five steps: Prospecting, Discovery, Presentation, Proposal, and Closing. What if you took, say, 20 focused minutes every day, picked one of those steps, and refined your technique in those 20 minutes? It could look like this:
Monday – Prospecting: Let’s face it. Most salespeople – probably 90% or more – are boring when it comes to prospecting. “Hi, Mr. Smith, this is xxxx from xxxxx company. I’d like to talk to you about your printing supplies. Do you have a minute?” Or even worse – “Hi, Mr. Smith. I’d like to quote on your next order of printing supplies.” Yaaawwwwwnnnnnn. Those approaches will get you off the phone in seconds. Be interesting. Explain – QUICKLY AND CONCISELY – how you have solved problems for other customers, and might be able to solve problems for Mr. Smith. Spend 20 minutes working on your approach statement and try it out on customers and co-workers.
Tuesday – Discovery: This is the most important phase in the selling process. It’s also the most shortcut. It’s the most important because if you don’t discover what your customer really needs, what their priorities are, and how they define success, you’ll never be able to solve their problems. It’s shortcut because too many salespeople are anxious to get to their “pitch.” Don’t be that salesperson. Try this – each Tuesday, spend 20 minutes coming up with two new questions that you can ask customers. Then try them out. Figure out what works well. Keep what works, throw away what doesn’t, and rinse and repeat.
Wednesday – Presentation: I’m not a fan of carefully scripted and rehearsed presentations. It’s more important to be able to think on your feet, and draw good presentation statements out of your head, than to spend hours rehearsing a big presentation. Learn your product or service. Each Wednesday, spend 20 minutes learning at least one feature/benefit coupling of your products that you don’t know. Internalize it so you can recall it on the spot when your customer needs you to. And think of your presentations in groups of three. For every problem your customer faces, you should have three reasons your product will solve it.
Thursday – Proposal: The key to the proposal is confidence. You must be able to quote a specific price/service/product offering and not waffle. Get rid of the weasel words like “last shot at the price,” etc. Every Thursday, spend 20 minutes creating a concise proposal document (hypothetical or real), and then practice quoting it to the customer in a way that both communicates the value of your offering and communicates that this is the last word on the price. Role play with other salespeople if possible.
Friday – Closing: This is the part of the sales process that all of the “win every deal” charlatans focus on. Spoiler alert – it’s also the simplest. All you have to do is just ask for the business in a forthright manner. That won’t take up many Fridays, will it? So, after you have mastered that skill, use this 20 minutes to go back over the previous week’s activities and do a strong postmortem on your wins and losses. Use that to target your 20-minute days for the next week.
Now, you’ll notice that there’s no “magic button” there. I don’t promise that you’ll “CLOSE EVERY DEAL,” or even “HOW TO SELL ANYTHING TO ANYONE!” But successful selling is a process, and by using that process to guide you toward incremental improvement, I can guarantee that in six months’ time, you will be a MUCH better salesperson than you are now – even if you’re great right now.
And continuously practicing to improve your sales skills is the one thing you can do that really does WORK EVERY TIME. That’s no lie.