Shhhh… Close your eyes and don’t make a sound. The sound of silence is the sound of sales increasing substantially for you and your company. The sound of silence represents the ability to truly hear what prospects are saying, before worrying about your next statement. It also represents the lack of time salespeople spend honing their sales skills.
In the era of modern communications, it’s become easier and easier to lose track of the most effective sales tools. Too often, the sales process has become one of faceless and nameless entities submitting bids via telephone, e-mail or fax. Or the process has been diluted so significantly that only one sales call is made, although statistics show that more than 75 percent of all sales are made after the fifth call. Is it any wonder that Pareto’s Principle states 80 percent of all sales are made by 20 percent of all salespeople? This doesn’t mean that the top 20 percent are incredibly different, they just tend to do the little things better and win the close ones.
In today’s competitive decorative concrete market it’s more important than ever before to understand the sales process. I have been told that prospects only want to know: What is the price? How long is the warranty? How long have you been in business?
Under these conditions, it’s even more important to understand the process. Have you ever lost a contract to a concrete contractor or competitor who is higher in price? Have you ever purchased an item that was not the lowest priced? Why did you make the decision? Did you feel that the salesperson understood you? Did you gain a higher level of confidence in the company you chose over the company you did not? There it is — the sales process at work.
So how can you improve your sales effectiveness? _Listen._ Next time you have a conversation, pay attention. Do you finish their sentence in your head or out loud? Do you have a response before they are done speaking? I know it sounds obvious, but if you’ve ever been told you could sell ice to Eskimos, you need to be a better listener.
As easy as it seems, listening is a difficult task to master. However, it’s a very effective sales weapon. Silence makes people uncomfortable and someone is going to fill the void. The professional should know better and resist the urge to chase a question with an easier question. For example: “Mr. Prospect, how much have you put aside for this project?” Silence. “Mr. Prospect, if you’re not sure, how about a ballpark figure?” Each time you feel uneasy about the silence, take a deep breath and slowly count to five. You’ll be surprised by what you learn.
In short, you need to C.A.R.E. — Communicate, Articulate, Respect and Excite.
Communicate with them and try to understand what makes them tick. Are they new and feel overwhelmed with responsibility? What is the history of the decision-making process? Who are you competing with and how was that decision reached? Every sales opportunity is an opportunity to make a friend and learn about your competitors’ firsthand.
Articulate the most important benefits your prospects will gain by doing business with you. You should have a list of the 10 key benefits customers receive when purchasing your product or service. After communicating with your prospects, you should be in a position to articulate how your benefits will suit their needs.
Respect their time, and make them respect your time. Determine the ground rules. At the appropriate time, ask your prospects how long they have set aside for this meeting. Then stay within that time frame and end the meeting on schedule. This dependability will help you set future appointments. Schedule the follow-up appointment before leaving.
Excite them. If you don’t believe your product or service is the absolute best choice, why should they believe it. You need to excite your prospects about your solution to their problem. Excite them about the product’s or service’s benefits, the ways it will make their life easier and how it will create more time for them.
In this new era of technology, it’s more important than ever to personalize the sales process. Differentiate yourself and your company. You’ll increase your sales through stepping around the impersonal methods of communication that are all too prevalent in today’s business world. Listen and CARE about your client.
Ken Lundin is the national sales manager of Veron Coating Systems, a company that manufactures specialty coatings and construction products for floors that is headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona.