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  1. Sales Techniques 101: Opening and research

    Opening

    So how do salespeople open a sales opportunity? Well, it all depends on the circumstances. No that is not a cop-out but a fact. If they work on a shop floor or an exhibition, for example, customers come to them and are actively looking at the products in the store so the salesperson can quite easily open talking about the particular product. If they are knocking on people's doors or walking up to them in the street, they would get a less warm opening and if they are telephone selling again it is different. If they have an appointment and are visiting people in their homes or office, they have an open door but until they get there they never actually know what they are going to get.

    The most important aspect of the opening is to be different. Not too obvious and be likable. In being different, the need is to engage the prospect and stand out from all the other sales reps. There is a need to be more engaging and enthusiastic about the customer as an individual and their need. Being different does not mean wearing silly hats or acting like a plonker, but it does mean that they do not be the public personification of a sales person.

    When opening, salespeople are taught to be observant about the person or the surroundings (if they are visiting them).

    If they are deeply engaged in looking at the details of a product, it might be worth opening by asking if they would like those features explained or if they would like a demo. Simplicity works.

    If the salesperson or compliance professional is visiting the prospect and the prospect is clearly dubious about whom they (the seller) are and what they want then the salesperson should open by introducing themselves and get to the point as to why they are there. The salesperson shouldn't fear to get to the point. Don’t be fooled that you can always open a conversation by admiring the prospects garden or talking about the pictures on the wall of their office, or telling a story as the old-school training manuals and trainers will tell you. Time is precious, and people are suspicious and more informed in today’s society. Not getting straight to the point can do more to irritate the prospect than warm them up. That kind of conversation should be left to a more appropriate time once they have established themselves and built up a rapport with the prospect maybe a second visit or later on in their conversation.

    On the other hand, if the prospect is quite open with the salesperson and is asking them about themselves and their journey. Or if the rep makes a small comment like what spacious offices they have here and they, the prospect, do more than just agree with them but give them a detailed answer. Then this is a sign that the customer is open to a general conversation before the salesperson starts talking business and is a probably a good time to start building that rapport early. If the prospect is this relaxedthough, it does show they are probably someone relaxed in their skin and this can often be a sign of a skilled negotiator.

    As a sales person, a lot of it can be down to reading the situation, feeling and trusting your gut reaction as well as watching the body language of the prospect when they make initial conversation. If the target appears irritated and offish then the real sales people change tact. If the target seems open and their body language suggests they are comfortable, then the observant sales person will carry on, but they make sure their conversation is about the customer and not themselves.

    A note here on body language: there is a lot of outdated and misleading statements made about body language that has been disproven. Such as if someone sits with their arms crossed they are being closed and defensive. But that fact is that they could just be more comfortable with their arms crossed, or they could be cold. While body language can be a good indicator, we have to take the manuals and advice with a pinch of salt and rely more heavily on our gut feelings when it comes to it. There is a danger that we can read more, or less, to a situation. Hostage negotiators will tell you that it is the words both what people say but also how they say it that gives you an insight into a person’s thinking and that body language, for most, is all but useless.

    Talking about the prospect and listening carefully can get the client to open up and as long as the sales person is paying attention, they can gather useful info that they can use in closing the deal later.

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    From a consumers point of view, we need to ask ourselves “while this stranger seems interested in me what is their hidden agenda, especially when most people don’t find me that interesting” well let's face it they don’t do they. No one, not even your loved ones, findsyou asinteresting as the sales people trying to sell you something.

    If ever you are in a sales situation, and you are the buyer, and you feel like “why did I just say that, why did I tell this stranger everything” then the best course of action is just to leave or hang up the phone. It might sound rude but trust me it won't phase a good salesperson, but it might save you from buying something you later regret. If someone gets us talking especially about ourselves, we have a tendency to ramble. We have a tendency to let slip when we are encouraged to keep talking about ourselves. A skilled seller will know this and be in no rush to move on to the next client if they get a customer rambling and listen out for keywords and key drivers they can use these a tools of influence at a later stage in the conversation.

    Do your research

    If a salesperson is visiting a business customer, it always pays for them to do as much research on the client and the company as they can. The same could be said about consumers but with consumers, it tends to be lower value items than in business to business transaction plus the info is harder to get for the average sales person. The higher the value item you sell, the more the research pays off.

    In today’s world, there is so much information at your fingertips through LinkedIn, company websites, open profiles on Facebook, tweets you can build up a picture of what is going on in their business world as well what their personal interests. With a little research, you can find out a lot about people. Especially in their professional roles. People want to be recognised for their achievements especially when it comes to business. So they are happy to put their name to anything that will aid in their self-promotion. Salespeople need to be careful with the information they gain and how they use it but knowing a little bit more about their prospects may give them some good opening questions that they can use if things seem a little awkward, or they need to break the ice.  Of course, knowing too much could come off creepy.

    In future books, I will go into how to build a customer profile through the use of tools such as Linkedin and how these digital tools can be useful for salespeople out in the field.

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    Written by Behavioural Marketing Specialist: Sam O'Prey from Telford, Shropshire, West Midlands UK specialist in helping charities, not for profits, social enterprises and activists to get their message noticed

     

     

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  2. Psychological Sales techniques 101– an introduction

    First off, we will look at a bunch of sales techniques. The reason for this is simple there is nothing worse than having a sales technique book or website where you have to hunt for the particular method you wanted to practice. So, therefore, I am putting the techniques at the start and then all the other stuff at the end with some other bits I haven’t written yet. I will though be aiming to take every sales technique apart to look at it a new, breaking it down to see what is going on.

    So, what is a sales technique? Well, it is quite simply a method or way that has set patterns to help a salesperson gain a sale. I do not like to refer to these as sales tricks as that makes it sound as though there is something dishonest about them and there really isn’t. Sales techniques are there to help the salesperson understand why and how they made a deal or why they didn’t, for them to have a constant internal feedback loop that refines their techniques. They are there to help the seller to recognise when a person is about to buy and to take that opportunity to close the deal. There is nothing worse than watching someone new to sales let a golden opportunity walk right out the door just because they didn’t understand the basics of sales techniques. At the end of the day if the person didn’t buy from that salesperson they will buy from the next. Sales techniques are simply the tools of the job.

    So, we will break part one down into general sales techniques group under sections the first will be opening which will look at opening a conversation with the prospect and getting the ball rolling. We then look at building rapport, handling objections and then move swiftly on to closing.

    Remember these are techniques I have learned along the way, and I certainly do not claim to be the inventor of any of them. I only include in these techniques what I feel is relevant to today’s world of sales. I know some, especially old school, out there will disagree with some of what I have to say and that is fine as everyone’s technique needs to suit them as a person. I would, however, say that there is no such thing as one perfect sales pitch that overcomes every objection and suits all, that is just nonsense, and it is an arrogant salesperson that is just making sales their way is the best and the only way to close a deal. There are many ways and many techniques and disciplines and having an understanding of them means that you have more weapons at your disposal. 

    Everything in these techniques has a basis, and the basis is what is important not the technology you need to open the conversation and build rapport to close a deal it is that simple. The techniques are the tools in which to do this thing called selling, and their value is in the psychology behind the art and the wording used to create real sale opportunity. 

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    One thing you should learn as a sales and marketing professional is that words have power.  As I have studied copywriting and NLP I have learned this to be so very true. Words have power and meaning. If you are as good a listener as you are a talker, you will go a long way to finding the answers to how to close a deal just by listening to the customer to understand which are the right words to use with that customer, the words that will be most influential. 

    The list of sales techniques that I am about to present is far from exhaustive, and some sales people will not even be aware they are using them as being persuasive just come naturally to them.  However, we can all learn new things and for me understanding the science behind what is going on in these encounters gives me more insight. This insight can be both unique and advantageous in my day job and personal life, especially when dealing with people who are looking to influence me.  The aim of these chapters is to share some of that insight with you. 

     

     

    Written by Behavioural Marketing Specialist: Sam O'Prey from Telford, Shropshire, West Midlands UK specialist in helping charities, not for profits, social enterprises and activists to get their message noticed

     

     

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    CC0 License

     

    ✓ Free for personal and commercial use
    ✓ No attribution required