Keith Ferrazzi has a nice piece on his blog called “Surefire Tips for a Successful Sales Call,” including a useful 2 minute video. He focuses on relationship selling–making the customer feel comfortable by focusing on her favorite subject–herself. He gives six great suggestions. Read what he has to say, and then have a look at a few more items that I’ve found useful over the years when it comes to relationship selling. I learned some of these ideas from Rennie Crabtree of Marketing Outcomes, whom I consider my mentor in relationship selling.
Here they are...
- Discover hidden agendas: I will never forget a sales call I made when I was a young newspaper publisher in the travel industry. I was calling on a senior VP of Hertz Car Rental. Being inexperienced, I was very eager to go through my shpiel, which I did. He seemed distracted, and started to change skin tone the more I spoke, until he finally was a bright crimson. It was clear he hadn’t listened to a word I’d been saying. At that point I had to ask him what was wrong. My newspaper had written an article about Hertz that he felt was unfair and wrong, and he was steamed. The sales call turned into triage as I tried my best to salvage the relationship. Had I not spent the first 20 minutes digging a hole for myself, it would have gone a lot better. When you are in a sales call with a new or old customer, you have to find out if there are any landmines waiting for you. How? Tell the customer what you came to talk about (and you came to talk about his needs, not your stuff), and directly ask if that matches up with his expectations, and if he has items he’d like to talk about. Then, when you have explicit permission to continue, start to exchange information.
- Don’t forget to “close” the sale: Make sure to ask the client what she wants to do next. This doesn’t mean the final close of the sale, just a “close” for this sales call as a bridge to eventually closing the sale. It may not include asking for the order, but if that’s the next logical step, for Pete’s sake, ask for the order! Or, if the client isn’t ready for that yet, see what she wants to do: get more info, end the discussion because she has no interest, or something else. You want to be sure you’re not wasting your time. Many people don’t want to tell you no, even though the answer is no. You have to make it perfectly okay for them to say no.
- Go in as a team, leave as a team: I mentioned my mentor Rennie Crabtree earlier. There are times in sales situations where you go to a client or prospect with other people from your company. What happens if the client doesn’t like one of the team members you brought along? In a workshop Rennie put together for us, we had a role play in which a seller team called on another team playing the role of buyer. The buyer team told the seller team that they only wanted to work with men, and asked if they would mind sending the female member of the team home. If they did not, game over. Obviously, this was a curveball to the seller team. They rightly asked to take a timeout, met privately for a few minutes, then returned. Because there was a multimillion-dollar contract at stake, the sellers agreed to proceed with the meeting without their female teammate, who volunteered to leave. Ouch! Wrong, wrong, wrong. Rennie ripped the seller team apart. He’s a former Navy pilot, and it was impressive to see him get angry. “When you go in as a team, you leave as a team!” he roared at them. That idea was imprinted on my brain forever.
Contributing blogger Mitch York coaches executives who are evolving into entrepreneurs. Find York — and his personal blog — at www.e2ecoaching.com. Follow MSPmentor via RSS; Facebook; Identi.ca; and Twitter. And sign up for our Enewsletter; Webcasts and Resource Center.