In part one, we examined many of the positive qualities of a great salesperson. In part two, we continue the discussion about what makes a certain few in the selling world so successful while others struggle.
Honesty vs. dishonesty
Customers will not put up with a salesperson who they sense is lying to them. Anytime a salesperson misrepresents, stretches the truth, presents deceitful information or intentionally overstates the capabilities of a product, they are lying. It is brazenly disrespectful to the customer and strongly resented as it should be. Anything but the truth will be seen as a lie. Never try to “fake it ‘till you make it” either. If you don’t know something, say so and find the answer for them. Your honesty will be appreciated.
When presenting, avoid too much puffery, which creates an improbable claim. Examples: “We have the best installers in town” or “We are the largest dealer in the area.” These types of statements show insecurity. Accordingly, the following are danger words that hurt your credibility and are often clichéd: greatest, best, largest, highest-quality, fastest and quickest. Generally, any adjective that ends in “est” is probably a danger word. Furthermore, while you are purging dangerous words or phrases, eliminate “trust me,” along with “always” and “never.” No matter how well-intentioned, when salespeople use these words, they plant doubt in the customer’s mind.
Customers dislike salespeople who will not admit any downside to their products. These salespeople lack credibility. There are pluses and minuses for most products based on its application and purpose. Prove you are a trustworthy resource by being honest and realistic: If you pretend your product will be all things for every purpose, your customer will not believe anything you say.
Understand “no” is an answer
While persistence is sometimes important, by continually not accepting ‘no’ for an answer, you are in effect arguing with the customer. Treat the relationship with respect, not antagonism. If you respond to their “no” by proving early that you respect their decision, you at once create the assurance that you recognize boundaries. A “no” that you respect the first time around has a lot better chance of being a “yes” later when there is more favorable information.
Not having knowledge about what you sell is like being the world’s best salesperson and not being told what you are selling. It is like a computer without any input. You should understand everything about your company’s products, selection, inventory, services and installations. Without product knowledge, a salesperson will sound incompetent at best, and a con artist at worst. With the right knowledge, we prepare for anything.
Keep in mind there is such a thing as too much knowledge. While it is important to be well informed, she did not come into your showroom for a trade fair on flooring. I cannot emphasize this enough, keep the focus on fashion and needs, not a bunch of arbitrary benefits she has no interest in. So, how can we make sure that product knowledge aids, rather than hampers the sale? By asking effective questions and sticking to specific solutions.
Handle rejection well
Would you like to know what causes the failure of most salespeople? It is the fear of rejection. In sales, we need to teach ourselves not to look at rejection as a personal thing. After all, it’s only our goods and services that are being rejected. When we lose a sale, our outlook should be, “What can I learn from this experience? What can I do differently?” And then move on.
Top sales achievers have a unique ability to cope with difficulty. They are persistent in their quest for a sale. If there are obstacles, they will go around them, through them and over them. Put another way, we must control our beliefs and the way we are thinking. Successful salespeople separate each customer, each sales event, each rejection and think of it in unique terms. We need to focus our mind to react to the negatives—the problems, the criticisms, the failures—no differently than the successes in our sales day. Jeff Gitomer, author of the Sales Bible shared, “Obstacles can’t stop you. Problems can’t stop you. Most of all, other people can’t stop you. Only you can stop you.”
Part of the reason tenacious salespeople are so persistent is they have a healthy trait of optimism. Optimistic salespeople dwell on the positives rather than the negatives. These salespeople do not easily admit failure and do not feel helpless in changing a situation for the better. They see rejection as a tool of learning and move forward.
Professionals ask for the order.
This may seem obvious, but most salespeople don’t ask for an order because they think it is pushy or they are afraid of rejection. Years ago, a colleague gave me this valuable advice about selling, “If you don’t ask—you don’t get.” When all the customer’s concerns have been addressed and answered, ask! “Would you like to get this measured?” “Shall I get this moving for you?” What is the very worst she can say? Oh horrors, your shopper might say “no” and give you a legitimate objection. The good news is that with an objection you uncover what is holding her back. We simply offer new information and thus overcome the objection.
Interestingly, surveys of customers who were asked why they did not buy most commonly answered: “We were never asked.” Ask for the order! This one simple selling technique may literally double your sales.
Never, ever, say, “May I help you?”
Whenever I hear this often-used greeting, I know another sale is probably lost. By using this common opening your customer typically responds as a defense, “No thanks, I’m just looking.” Please understand this: when we greet a customer, we are beginning a friendship! When friends come to your house, do you greet them with “May I help you?” Bear in mind, your customer is your guest, so treat her with the same transparent and enthusiastic manner you treat new friends at your home. Try becoming a real person and approach your customer like a real person. Be authentic and believable.
Other “yes or no” greetings such as, “Finding everything ok?”, or even “Hi, what may I do for you today,” are impersonal and are therefore lackluster beginnings for taking charge of the sale and building relationships. It is much more effective to say, “Good day. Welcome to Custom Flooring. And thanks for coming in.” Otherwise, you will lose countless sales and commissions because you will make it much more difficult to warm up and establish rapport with your customer. The old cliché: “You are shooting yourself in the foot” is appropriate.
If you are not satisfied with your sales volume, you must realize there are ways to improve. To admit this and not take steps to correct your situation is simply absurd. People who achieve success are successful primarily because of their attitude toward self-improvement. Conversely, it has been my experience that people who need sales training rarely take advantage of the opportunity. Ben Franklin is quoted: “Being ignorant is not so much a shame as being unwilling to learn.”
Good selling to you.
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