What are your goals for your salespeople in 2018? Do you want them to just meet sales objectives or do you want them to crush and move on to more money and more fun?
I learned to sell in my Navy career. We’re all in sales of some sort every day of our lives. I learned that an essential component of leadership was selling your ideas and strategies to others.
After I retired from the Navy and started my business career, I looked for ways to help my engineering staff with robust, repeatable sales processes. Finding none that worked well in all sales cycles and with all customers, I decided to develop my own. These top-10 selling skills set our company on a course of growing at 42 percent every year for 14 straight years. After that, I established Asher Strategies to share them with other businesspeople.
Skills must be learned. They do not come naturally to anybody. To make the complex simple, I boiled down the content of the best books and seminars on selling skills to the basic 10 skills needed for long-term sales success. The Asher skills are the “blocking and tackling” of sales skills. They are the ones used by both your rookie salespeople and your elite salespeople. The only difference between the rookies and the elite salespeople is that the elite have much more experience honing these skills. Here are the 10 skills needed to be successful in sales and account management. They are in the order that elite salespeople normally use them:
1. Focus on a few top prospects.
Use networking technology to prospect for new business. Only focus on qualified leads. Don’t get discouraged after the first several touches – on average, it takes 12 touches to close a sale. Plan every touch to meet a specific objective and add useful content with every touch.
2. Thoroughly research prospects and their organizations prior to the first contact.
Research your prospect’s company, offerings, organization, industry and even their competitors. Use all available resources to research the buyers personally.
3. Use insiders to fully understand prospects and their requirements.
Find an insider, a coach, who can help you understand your prospect. Identify the decision makers for each opportunity and what their particular concerns are. Match or mirror their personality styles to better connect with them.
4. Sell yourself by building rapport.
Make a positive first impression with your appearance, voice tone, and word choices. Prepare an opening statement to encourage buyers to talk about what they want to talk about to increase their comfort level with you.
5. Ask the right questions, listen and guide the conversation.
Totally focus on the buyer’s point of view. Ask permission to take notes and take good notes. Summarize the buyer’s needs and repeat back to get agreement.
6. Use powerful marketing messages.
Use killer arguments (done-it-before) to reduce buyer doubt. Use ROI analysis to prove the value of your offering in financial terms. Use ghosting discriminators to draw attention to the competition’s weaknesses and your comparative strengths.
7. Act as a business consultant and expertly handle objections.
75 percent of business involves people deciding on overall value where a salesperson can help. Price is actually lower on a buyer’s list of priorities than they let on, so you shouldn’t cave on price too fast. Identify and overcome objections by identifying the most common ones and practicing responses.
8. Recognize when the buyer is ready to buy (buyer’s shift) and know how to close the sale.
Identify, practice and use the most common closing approaches appropriate for your business. Pay attention to non-verbal cues during the closing process. Throughout the entire sales process and in any interaction with a buyer, always close to the next step.
9. Build long-term relationships with the new customers.
Even if your company has dedicated customer service and account management people, maintain relationships with your customers after you have secured the sale. Keep them delighted by giving them something extra. Fix problems quickly. Get consistent, formal feedback. Identify up and cross-selling opportunities.
10. Ask for referrals.
The best referrals come from your vendors, suppliers, subcontractors, and consultants (you are paying them and they want to increase their business with you). Ask for the highest level of introduction the referrer is comfortable with. Don't expect them to close any faster than other prospects. Return to the first skill.
I’ve used these very same Top Ten Selling Skills to lead my company to sales success and have helped thousands of salespeople bring in new clients faster. If you apply them I guarantee you’ll make a positive difference in your company’s growth and you’ll be well on your way to becoming an elite salesperson in 2018.
By John Asher