Four Steps to Selling Success
- By Richard Clemmer
- May 01, 2012
It’s no surprise to me that after 15 years in this business, I still see selling as one of our industry’s biggest challenges. After all, selling is challenging in any market regardless of the product offered or the economic conditions of the day. What I want to talk about in this article are the simple, time-honored methods that people of all professions have used to move more products out the door. The process is not complicated, but in today’s fast-paced world, we have the habit of making basic processes difficult.
Selling, in and of itself, should never be a difficult or arduous journey. At its most basic level, selling involves only one key component: establishing a “rapport” with your prospect. This is true no matter what you’re selling or what market you’re selling in. It’s absolutely true that no matter what you do, the ability to develop and establish rapport with a broad range of people will almost always provide a pathway to getting you or your company what you need and want.
The basis of rapport is that when people are like each other, they tend to like each other; conversely, the opposite is true as well. A successful sales professional has to be able to relate or appeal to a very broad range of people and personality types. This means that in actuality, the “sales process” is a process of “communication.”
When it comes to establishing a rapport with your prospect, it is important to remember that a large portion of the meaning in a communication between individuals takes place at an unconscious level. This means that during the whole process of selling, there is always a tremendous amount of activity taking place that never results in any actual words being spoken. As sales professionals, it’s our job to try and figure out what that is and how best to use it. This is the development of a “sensory acuity” that is a key characteristic you will find in almost all successful sales professionals.
For some, this sensory keenness or sharpness comes naturally, but for the rest of us, it is something that must be learned and practiced. The goal of this article is to give you the overall framework of this process. What you read below can be molded and adapted to any company and any product. It’s selling at a foundational level, and it’s all you need to know in order to double your business over the next 12 months.
1. Establish rapport. Remember what I already said: People who are like each other tend to like (or buy from) each other. You need to match, mimic and/or mirror the person you are trying to relate to. Here are a few key points to focus on:
a. Tone of voice. Does your prospect speak in hushed tones? Then bring down the volume. Are they loud and gregarious? Then turn it up.
b. Key words. Does your prospect use certain words over and over again? Hone in on these words and work them into your questioning and presentational statements. You will be surprised at how quickly this can help you connect.
c. Physiology. How is your prospect sitting? Are his or her arms crossed or open, eyes wide open or half shut? Is there direct eye contact, or is the prospect looking away? Pay attention to all of these visual cues and try to mimic some of these behaviors without being overt about it. The key here is to very subtly mirror your prospects so that they begin to feel comfortable at a subconscious level.
2. Ask questions. All of the questions you ask should be directly related to the prospect’s business. Focus on open-ended questions that will generate expansive responses.
a. Use their language. Again, here it is important to listen to your clients and mirror their representational styles.
b. Discover your clients’ fears and/or motivators with respect to their businesses. What are their companies moving away from or toward?
c. Figure out what the company’s strategies are. How do these strategies relate to their current needs? This will lead you directly to No. 3.
3. Find the need. Once you do, anchor your product to it. Once you have determined what your clients’ needs are, then you can determine how or why your product or service has value to them.
a. No need. Then politely end the conversation here. In my experience there are plenty of companies out there that do have needs. If your prospect doesn’t have any, then it’s time to focus your energies elsewhere.
b. Anchor your product or service to their needs. This is where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. Oftentimes it will require you to be creative, but if you can do this, then you’re halfway there already.
c. Conditional close. Statements like, “If we can do X (X equals meeting a need), then would my Y (your product or service) work for your company?” This is where we use the exchange principle to build a social agreement. If we can solve your problem, then you will buy our product in return. Simple but very effective.
d. Remember to use their communication style and language patterns. This needs to be reinforced throughout the process, since it will subconsciously help you build consensus.
4. Close. Ask for the order!
a. Handle any objections. Overcome objections by dropping back to Step 3 to anchor your product to a different need.
b. Handle resistance. If the client is very resistant to your message, then it indicates a lack of support. In this case, it is very important for you to build more rapport. Consider more flexibility in what you can offer. Also consider setting up a secondary meeting. This will give you more time to examine their needs and develop strategies.
c. Yes! If the answer to your close is yes, then pat yourself on the back. Remember, your work is only just beginning. Now it’s time to deliver.
If you can follow the outline above, then your success is guaranteed. Just like anything else, it takes practice to get it right. If it came naturally to everyone, good salespeople wouldn’t be in such high demand.
Good luck and be persistent. Remember, closing is really the beginning of your long business relationship.
This article originally appeared in the May 2012 issue of Recharger.
Richard Clemmer, is the VP of Strategic Accounts with ILG. Clemmer's responsibility with ILG includes strategic client relations, field liaison and ambassador to ILG's technical imaging supplies manufacturing. He is an industry veteran with 16 years of experience in the laser and inkjet aftermarket. Prior to ILG, Clemmer was a VP of sales for Static Control corporate sales group. During his tenure with SCC, he was responsible for numerous major initiatives and was a frequent speaker and instructor at many trade shows. Before entering the imaging aftermarket, Clemmer was a nuclear, biological and chemical defense specialist in the United States Marine Corps. This heavy technical background created the foundation for his interest in the technical aspects of the laser and inkjet imaging supplies aftermarket.