| || 9 Sales Maxims That'll Make |
Them Say Yes!
By Barry J. Farber
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© 2008 Nightingale-Conant Corporation
Famed racecar driver Mario Andretti once said, "If everything seems under control, you're just not going fast enough." Obviously, he wasn't advocating going so fast that you spin out and crash; he was talking about pushing the limits, going beyond what is safe, and taking a calculated risk. In life and in business, the only way to test your limits is by opening the throttle and going forward, past the point you think you can achieve.
Sometimes pushing the limits means seeing the invisible, going after opportunities other people don't see. Jim McCann, 49, founder of 1-800-FLOWERS.com in Westbury, New York, is constantly looking for those opportunities. "I ask myself, ‘When I look back five years from now, where will the really big opportunities have come from? What are the things I'm going to look at and wish I had done?' That forces you to take your best guess, with the evidence in front of you, as to how the business world is going to change—and make sure you're positioning your company to be at the edge of that change."
You don't have to be extraordinary to accomplish extraordinary things, but you do have to be willing to do whatever it takes to achieve your vision, even if it's extreme. Entrepreneur Tony Hawk—32-year-old world champion skateboarder in the X-Games and founder of Birdhouse Projects Inc., a skateboard and accessories manufacturer in Huntington Beach, California—pushes the limits in both sports and business. "No matter how far you go with skating, you've got to keep challenging yourself. Even if you're considered to be on top of your field—in business, too—there are ways you can improve yourself and keep coming up with new challenges. The goal is not to be better than everyone else; the goal is to be better than yourself."
When you're older and looking back on your life, you won't be telling stories about the times when everything came easily. You'll be talking about the things that were most challenging and therefore most exciting.
Robert Louis Stevenson once said, "To be what we are, to become what we are capable of becoming, is the only end of life." Do you know right now what you are capable of becoming? How can you ever know, unless you're willing to put yourself.
So, to help you push and go beyond those limits, here are my nine sales maxims that will make clients say yes every time:
- It takes all kinds. Comedian Bill Cosby once said that he didn't know the secret to success but that the secret to failure was trying to please everyone. You don't have to be the perfect salesperson. Prospects aren't looking for perfection; they're looking for human connections. They're looking to form relationships with real people who are serious about business but who don't take themselves too seriously. Prospects are buying you just as much as they are your product or service, so your best bet is to connect with them on a personal level by relaxing and just being yourself.
- Never take no for an answer. When you've tried everything else, you might want to try this technique, which works extremely well once you've been persistent over a long period of time. But don't try it until you've called, faxed, FedExed, voice mailed, and done everything else you can think of to try to get in to see that individual. In other words, you've got to earn the right to leave this message (either with an assistant or on the prospect's voice mail): "Every night before I go to sleep I speak to God. Why can't I talk to you?"
I leave this message for three reasons. One, to stand out from all the other voice mails this prospect gets. Some executives receive 50 to 100 messages per day. If you don't get their attention, they'll listen for about 10 seconds and then erase the message. Second, if you've been persistent and done all the work previous to this, that message will make a great impact. Third, if you can leave the message with an assistant who is your ally, it has the greatest impact of all. I have received callbacks from billionaires and notoriously hard-to-reach Hollywood agents using this method.
- The relationship is everything. As a salesperson, your objective is to serve, not to sell. Whenever you go in to see a client—and especially when you meet someone for the first time—you have to go in wearing your problem-solving hat. Your objective is to help this prospect find solutions; to increase his or her business and profits. Only by increasing your customer's business can you increase your own.
If you're going in with the purpose of pushing your product, you're going to have to work very, very hard to make that sale. On the other hand, a sale becomes a natural progression when you go in with a focus on how you can meet his or her needs and desires and bring value to this individual and his or her company. That may mean using some creative thinking along with your knowledge and experience to come up with ways to improve your customer's bottom line. This is the time to ask yourself, "What can I do differently? What would be the ideal solution to this problem, and how close can I come to making that happen?"
- Your attitude determines your altitude. Salespeople are made of the same stuff as every other human being. If you didn't get discouraged and depressed sometimes, you'd be a robot. It's part of the life you've chosen. But the most successful people are those who can maintain a positive attitude despite the rejections and perform their jobs with enthusiasm.
Enthusiasm is the frosting on the attitude cake. A positive attitude lets you deal with whatever happens to you in life, and enthusiasm lets you do it with excitement and energy. Enthusiasm is almost like an electrical current that creates attraction. People like to be around genuine enthusiasm. Your enthusiasm invites people to join you in your belief about what you're selling. It shows in your voice, body language, and willingness to do whatever you can to provide your customers with the best possible service.
- The harder you work, the luckier you get. There's no getting around it; it takes effort to get lucky. Tiny pieces of luck seep into every small step you take toward your goal. Put all those steps together, and you've got your lucky break!
Luck is created by increasing the frequency of those activities that are most likely to lead to success. For instance, a salesperson who calls on 10 people is going to be luckier in terms of finding a viable prospect than a salesperson who calls on just two people.
One way to help increase your activity level is with something I call the "Time Management Test." It's really very simple: Starting on Monday, keep a journal of what you're doing every hour that you're working. If you start at 9:00, stop work at 9:55 and record what your last hour's activity has been. Do the same thing at the end of each hour throughout the day. On Friday, compare that week's activity and productivity to the week before. I guarantee you will have accomplished more during your journal-keeping week. It's a proactive way to think about how you can work more efficiently, and you'll automatically start allocating your time more wisely.
- Fail to plan, plan to fail. If you study high achievers in any field, you'll find that they have clearly articulated goals that they are constantly striving to achieve. What's more, they don't sit back and rest once a goal has been met; instead, it inspires them to go on and make the next goal that much more challenging.
Not only should you set goals, you should also write them down so you can take the daily actions necessary to reach them. We need short-term goals, like making a particular number of cold calls each day, and long-term goals, like reaching a particular dollar amount of sales or breaking into a specific number of large accounts within a year. There are three important reasons for setting clear goals: Goals help us focus, they drive us forward, and reaching a goal increases our confidence for reaching the next goal. Every step you take toward achieving your goal teaches you a lesson you can apply to your next goal.
- It's not what you know, it's who you know. The ultimate goal of networking is to have satisfied customers and reputable business people (other than yourself) urging other people to do business with you. Then you are, in effect, building a sales force of people who are helping you build your business. Here's one way to get customers to spread the word of mouth: Think of ways to help your customers' business grow. Help your customers in any way you can—whether or not it has anything to do with sales. You might be in a position to get your customers some publicity, or you might know someone who is able to help them out of a jam (even if that someone is your competition). Whatever you can do to help your customers' business will help yours as well; the more you help them out, the more likely they'll refer you to others.
- Don't sell the steak, sell the sizzle. Selling the sizzle means delivering your presentations with style. A good presentation is an entertaining, engaging interchange between the person who is making the presentation and the audience. That doesn't mean you have to be a performer, a magician, or even a professional comedian. It doesn't mean your presentation has to be filled with bells, whistles, and special effects. But you do want your presentation to be vivid, persuasive, and memorable.
One way to keep your audience involved throughout your presentation is to use vivid language that conjures up mental pictures that will enable your prospects to imagine themselves using your product or service. You want to communicate that you're saving them time and effort, increasing their profits—whatever the appropriate benefit.
The key to developing a solid presentation style is to recognize your strengths and build on them. If you're a born raconteur, incorporate more stories into your presentation. If you're not, use fewer stories. Strong delivery comes with practice and experience. Be yourself, be enthusiastic, and be real. That's all your customers want and expect.
- You get what you pay for. This sales cliché is perhaps the most misinterpreted. Salespeople think it means that if you pay a high price for something, you'll get good quality and service—and if you don't, you won't. Successful salespeople interpret this cliché differently. To them, it means that when you buy something from them, no matter what you pay for it, you'll get your money's worth. In fact, you'll get more.
Every customer wants to know what he or she is getting for his or her money. And every customer wants to pay the lowest price possible. Most customers—and salespeople—get so hung up on dealing with issues of price that they forget about the issue of value. That's because value is much more difficult to sell and measure. To value something means to consider its worth, excellence, usefulness, or importance. Therefore, value is relative to the needs of the individual, whereas a price is a price is a price. The most successful salespeople constantly sell value; the least successful rely on price.
Keep pushing beyond those limits!
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