I struggled my first few months as a rookie sales person. The company was a leader in its market space and yet, as hard as I tried, I continued to fail. There were plenty of prospects and I made the recommended number of presentations each week, but I was not closing the deals. To add to my frustration, most of my prospects ended up buying a similar product from other vendors.
In desperation I went back to my mentor, Carol, and started attending sales calls with her. She closed every one! And I learned some very important lessons.
My sales presentation lasted about ten minutes; hers usually took an hour. She taught me that it takes time to build the kind of trust that enables prospects to reveal their real needs and buying motives. Until there is trust, prospects will not give buy-in to the salesperson – no matter how excellent the product or service on offer.
My ten-minute presentation consisted of describing features and benefits, expecting the logic of this list to set up the close. Although I always asked for the order, I rarely got it. Carol taught me to ask lots of questions before starting the features and benefits discussion. This served to uncover true needs and buying motives, as well as to build trust.
This was the key to successful sales: a prospect will buy-in to the sales process only when they have confidence in you, the salesperson. Once the buy-in was evident, Carol moved on to outline the features and benefits that addressed the prospect’s specific needs and motives. And she came away with happy, devoted clients.
Selling is a specialized communication skill. It requires the creation of a relationship that allows us to help the prospect make a buying decision that they wanted to make anyway. “To buy or not to buy” is not the prospect’s question with most purchases. By the time you are invited to make your sales presentation, that decision has already been made. The real question the prospect has is “Will I buy from you or someone else?”
Do not rush the process! Ask questions and listen for the real needs and buying motives if you want to gain the prospect’s buy-in to the sales process. If you don’t they will buy from someone else.