Years ago when I first went into the field to meet customers and try to sell the big-ticket items, I stunk!
So why should you read on about a better sales process from me? Because I became a pro!
Part of the reason I stunk at first was I was shy as a teenager and that shyness didn’t leave me until my mid-20s. The shyness was dragged out of me by my dad continually shipping me into the field to go sell.
Frankly, at first, I spent more time selling to my shoes than I did looking into the eyes of the customer I was talking to. Needless to say, I violated the first tenet of selling, which is building trust through maintaining eye contact.
To make things worse, I compounded my selling sins by making the next mistake in sales. I had a bad closing rate, so I tried to see more people in a day and that meant I had to go even faster through the sales process. Thinking back, I probably didn’t even have a sales process at all. And all it got me was more failure.
It was only when I decided that sales was what I needed to master (and I resolved to do whatever it took to become really good) did my sales begin to rise. It’s funny how, when you make a decision to master something and you won’t accept failure anymore, everything seems to change for the better.
Fortunately for me, I had a lot of good sales coaches along the way: my dad; my brother, Richie; and a whole host of teachers in the form of the many sales seminars and workshops I attended. But I didn’t stop there. I augmented this sales training with a dedication to always read about sales and how to get better at communication. It’s from this that I created the roots of my Sales Power! selling process that I use with clients today.
I finally looked up from my shoes and looked into the customer’s eyes. For the first time, I learned how to read people’s faces.
FeedbackWhen I began to observe my customers’ facial expressions and body language, I began to get the feedback I needed and had been missing. What they were telling me, without saying anything if I presented too many options, was that they were confused. It was hard to notice at first because as I would go through the traditional “good, better and best” options, they would continue to nod their heads. Up until then, the head nod meant to me that the customer was getting it. It was only when I was re-trained that I learned that the head nod was the way of making me think he understood me.
But in reality, if there was a cartoon balloon over a customer’s head and I bothered to read what it said, the balloon would read, “I’m confused and I’m not going to let you think I’m dumb, so I’m going to send you away now so I can figure this out. But I’ll keep nodding my head so your feelings won’t be hurt.”
The real hurt was to me, creating the confusion. When I learned to ask good questions, shut up long enough to listen and do the listening in an active way by either paraphrasing what they said or by taking notes, I became clearer on what I was supposed to do.
What I was supposed to do was be the expert. And as the expert, I was supposed to do an expert diagnosis of the customer’s wants and needs and then gather the information needed so I could present him or her with the best solution.
That was the end of good, better and best for me because I was offering too many choices. Instead, I learned to make a passionate presentation of the best solution based on my speaking to customers and my own expertise.
My BestLeading with “my best” instead made for a heartfelt presentation. Along with visual testimony from customers just like them who had benefited by work I’d done, the new customers were allowed to feel less confused.
My presentation was crafted to build excitement in them for what was the best solution. I didn’t leave it to them to understand everything, because I went over with them line by line everything I had put on the proposal page. When I was done, they knew why everything was in their best interest.
I ended my presentation with a pause and then I’d say, “But if budget is a concern, there are things I can remove.” I did this to let them know that they’re not getting this complete expert job at a lower price but that I’m sensitive to their budget concerns and will remove some of the options if necessary to meet their goal.
You may ask, “How far were you willing to go in what you’d remove to meet their budget?”
Frankly, I rarely had to remove anything when I did my presentation well enough. Many of the customers were impressed with the time I spent with them and the depth of my knowledge. They were also appreciative that I spoke to them in plain English instead of “tech-speak.” I used their words to let them know I was listening and I showed them with pictures how the job would pretty much go from start to finish. I ended with testimonials from customers just like them so they didn’t have to take my word for it.
But when there were customers who expressed a budget concern, I let them know I could remove some things. And then I made sure it hurt each and every time I took something away by letting them know in a nice way what they were giving up. I also learned to say if there was too much that needed to come out of the job to reach their budget, “I’m not going to let you make a bad decision today. So, if the job reaches a point that I don’t feel it’s the right thing to do, I’ll let you know and if necessary we’ll walk away as friends.”
Often, I never made it to the door before they’d beckon me back to the table to sign a proposal.
I learned to remove confusion from the selling process. That’s why if you’re currently a flat rate company and you have more than two columns of pricing, recognize that you’re adding confusion.
If you sell the big-ticket items, like I did, stop using the “good, better and best” model of selling and lead with a passionate presentation of “your best” and explain why that is so, line by line.
And I know you’ll make more sales for more money, and you’ll have more satisfied customers because, ultimately, they’ll have the best solution.