So, you have a sales lead. Now what? What is your first objective when you are face to face with the prospect? How about your second objective? Should you try to find out if the prospect is interested in your product or service before wasting any time?
If you want to improve the odds of closing the sale you shouldn’t be thinking about closing the sale when you first enter the prospect’s area. A number of things have to happen before the prospect is ready for you to ask for the order. First and foremost, the prospect needs to be comfortable with you. Second, the prospect needs to be comfortable with your company. There are nine or ten critical elements that are easily identifiable that need to happen. Without these elements firmly in place, your prospect isn’t really listening to all of the reasons that they need what you happen to be selling.
It helps if you can mentally break up the elements of closing a sale, and devote your focus to each element until you have confidence that you and the prospect are on the same page in relation to the element. For example, let’s say that you have a lead with a homeowner. The homeowner could have inquired about nearly anything for their home – kitchen remodeling, replacement windows, redoing a bathroom, adding a patio enclosure, solar panels, etc. Many salespeople will pre-judge a sales lead based upon the source of the lead. They become convinced that a lead developed through TV advertising or through a web form on the company website is more valuable than a lead developed because the company advertised a free service; something like an energy survey or functionality assessment. It may be that the prospect has a little more interest in what you offer if they took the time to watch a commercial or look through your website before inquiring, but if you take shortcuts with that interest you will find that your cancellations will also increase. The unfortunate reality is that the only real difference in a homeowner lead, that invites you into his or her home, is in the head of the salesperson. Step back and think about it for a minute. Would you let someone into your home (and waste an hour or two of your time) to get that free set of steak knives, or free vacation coupon, if you had absolutely no interest in what they were selling? It can happen, but it isn’t as common as you might believe. Every element of a perfect sale is as important on a media lead as it is on a free survey lead. When you understand and can apply the elements you understand why each element is as important as every other element.
Before I continue I want you to know that I realize that the face to face sales presentation that I am discussing here is largely on the back burner at the moment, as the country deals with the Covid-19 pandemic. Most all of these new sales methods that you are capitalizing on today will end at some point. The pandemic will be extinguished and life will eventually return to something that looks more normal than it does now. When that happens, you will need to be prepared to close sales the old-fashioned way again. For decades, marketing has lead us to believe that they can pre-sell anything for us. And while there is a grain of truth to that the actuality is that marketing will never completely replace the need for highly skilled salespeople. So, don’t let your guard down. Stay as sharp with your craft as you can under the circumstances.
The Art Of Rapport
Assuming that you understand how important first impressions can be, and you successfully enter the prospect’s area or space without incident, let’s take a look at what you can do to determine if the prospect is comfortable with you. The easiest way to do this is to start a conversation about things that have nothing to do with your company or products. If you are in the prospect’s home you can look around and quickly find topics to discuss. There are pictures, plaques, children, pets, plants, decorative aspects, etc. All the best topics are on display. You pick one and then ask about it, talk about it, and discuss it. This develops into a sense of mutual interest and helps build rapport between the salesperson and prospect. If you are meeting in a neutral setting you still have to find a few of those common interest topics to talk about. If you bypass this element and simply dive into your presentation you simply don’t know if the prospect is comfortable enough with you to buy anything from you. To be clear, you are not trying to make new friends. You merely want to heighten the prospect’s willingness to talk to you, to let their guard against salespeople down just a tiny bit. You can see this when it occurs. The prospect appears slightly more relaxed or speaks a little more freely. And when you see that happen it’s time to move on and talk about your company.
Obviously, there is more to the subject of rapport than a paragraph or two. My point here is that a sale is a series of much smaller sales or steps, and each small sale is easier to study and perfect than trying to look at the entire sales process as a single whole. It also provides the opportunity for you to keep score on the performance of every sales call. Each time you move on to the next step you have a good indication of how well you “closed” the previous small sale. When all of the small sales within a presentation are concluded thoroughly and completely the only logical conclusion will be for the prospect to purchase your product or service. This means that your direct selling system must be capable of this level of precision, prediction, and excellence. Lastly, that doesn’t mean that 100% sales closing is possible, however. It means that your selling system must be designed to produce it when executed perfectly.
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