Advancing Complex Sales

ticketCan you stop your mind wandering
and advance the sale?
Can you find the decision maker
not those  who bluster “they make the choice”?
Can you find their process
how they will decide to buy?
Can you find their timeline
when the project is complete?

Can you find their budget
their politics
their squabbles
and every issue that feeds inertia?

Advancement occurs through discovery.
Organizations cough up reality in due time.
The Master Seller is awake,
overcoming objections as they arise,
Allowing the sale to progress
from opportunity to deal,
Advancing each day.


Listening Brings Talking

talkinglistening2Listening brings talking.
Talking brings listening.
The interaction of the two
creates discovery.

Without discovery both wants and needs are hidden.
Without wants and needs
there are no prospects
nor buyers.

Listening and talking
Talking and Listening
These are the staples of sales.

Balanced Qualifying

But not interrogating
Yet not wasting their time
Yet listening to what’s not being said
To discover a match
Cutting to the quick.

As conceptual selling becomes more accepted, when cold calling, sales professionals commonly start by saying: “I’d like to learn a little bit about you and your business”.  Although this is a step in the right direction, as a prospect it at times feels like an  interrogation. Open ended questions about “my business”, that could have been easily found on the website, seem disingenuous. What the seller’s looking for is an opening to uncover some issue that they can help. It’s best to be straight with the buyer, saying exactly who you are, what you do and how you help clients. Then asking the prospect “is this an issue you’re struggling with too?”  to see if they fit in that category. This optimizes the entire process and treats the buyer’s time with respect.

Respect your prospects time, remain patient yet get to the qualification question quickly, practice before calling, cut to the quick.

Quiet Listening

Express yourself completely,
then keep quiet.

Be the early morning.
Let the silence ring,
till the answers spill.

Like a babbling stream
They share frustrations
and even hopes.

If you listen,
You just might
Be able to help.

No Close Close

Closed door and door knobLike all performances
Each sales call draws to a close.

Knowing few things solve all situations
The Master Seller asks
Do you think we’ve uncovered all your concerns?
Do you think our product solves the issues we covered?
Do you think we can start in two weeks?

Matching solutions to problems
the purchase comes naturally.

This is the no close close.

Anecdotes, Stories and Metaphors

Have you ever given a presentation, excited, engaged and in the moment? And then the time comes when you pause to catch your breath and like the good Master Seller ask if they have any questions? And then you look up and all you hear is the sound of crickets as your audience naps the afternoon away?

You could have a long list of features and benefits that far out weigh anything your competition can offer. But there are limits to what words can say, and you can rarely fully describe to complete precision what you’re selling with dry lists and specifications.  But a quick anecdote, a little story, an example that draws upon a metaphor or common experience can make all the difference. 

In the hubbub world of today, prospects quickly tire and get glassy-eyed.  A great tactic is to frame a benefit in a real-life story.   Start with “Have you ever been in the situation where …….”   And the story ends with some frustration of life.  You then proceed “Consider instead this ending…..” explaining  how your solution makes everything right in the end.  

Listen to what people say. Describe what you do with their stories. Make sure they fully believe you, and if they choose wisely,  they will live happily ever after. 

Cow Tales

Once upon a time a salesman worked for a dairy  products company that provided milking equipment  for farms.  One morning he was trying out his new Taoist sales techniques and he asked an open-ended question to a prospective client “How long cows should be milked?”  The farmer paused and scratched his head for a moment and  answered “Well………. I guess the same amount of time as the short ones.” 

Were you intrigued by this story when it started “once upon a time”?   Did it perk your interest?  Stories intrigue buyers.  Sharing an anecdote  allows them to viscerally embrace what your selling.  Consider common stories you’ve heard from other buyers.

What are your stories? What are your anecdotes? Do you know how long cows should be milked? 

Assessing Failure

Sales professionals come from many backgrounds: accounting, engineering, teaching, corporate America – careers that have not required phoning strangers, shaking hands and smiling when you don’t feel like it. Now you must.

It is not easy to taste success if economic conditions, shortage of money, aggressive, even unethical, competitors, and your own weaknesses conspire to bankrupt you. But if you’re going succeed as a Master Seller it maybe time to stop placing blame on others and focus inward on what you can do to hone your craft. Do you have any suppressed self-destructive traits or long-time hang-ups that are roadblocks to promoting your success? Are you putting yourself out of business?

Right now, ask yourself if there was one thing you could do to improve your success rate, what would that be? Ask yourself What have you been avoiding and putting off? Quick now, what’s the first thing that comes to mind with these questions?

Right now, say it out loud……..

This is awareness.

Exercise of Ownership Language

Question MarkGetting a prospect to generate ownership language is crucial for advancing the sale. Again consider the question “What would you do if…” and let’s see how you can apply this question in real life.

List three benefits that differentiate your product or service from you competition or the status quo. For each of these benefits create one or more “What would you do if” questions. During a sales call, the moment will arrive and you will have the opportunity to ask them if they can see the benefits of a part of your solution, e.g. “Can you see how this is faster?”. When they say “yes”, you will ask  “What would you do if you had more time?”  Patiently wait for their answer until they start describing what their future would look like if they had your solution.

The Master Seller is infinitely patient, asking questions, allowing the sale to precede at its own pace.

Generating Ownership

Sometimes during a presentation,  prospects have trouble understanding  how the bells and whistles of your solution will improve their lives.  During this time you need to bring home in concrete terms the value your solution or product can offer.  By asking “what would you do if”,  you challenge the buyer to take virtual ownership for a moment and reflect on its impact on their day. By getting them to talk in these terms you create ownership language. When they speak back about how it will improve their lives, the deal has advanced and will soon close.

What would you do if this one question  improved your sales ten fold? What would you do?

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