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Published:January 12th, 2010 21:50 EST
A New Year For Sales

A New Year For Sales

By Dan Goldberg

Through all the years that I`ve being writing articles, books, blogs, and posts, I`ve seen the economy go from one of its highest highs to the current period of bewilderment.

 

What does the future hold for the business world and in particular those who fuel it "its salespeople?

 

In the last few months I`ve witnessed a slow progression upward and a sentiment of cautious optimism. Salespeople have the unique opportunity to seize this moment in order evaluate the opportunities in the coming year, and in some cases devise strategies that, on the surface may not currently exist.

 

Start the New Year off right. Think about the strategies and tactics that will ensure that your little piece of the economic recovery starts now and progresses in a manner that will make 2010 a happy, successful and profitable New Year.

 

Creating and implementing a system to help an individual follow a step-by-step approach to selling is a major, positive factor toward growing a successful sales enterprise.

 

Uncovering a prospect`s distress is a key tactic within any system to help salespeople build stronger businesses and more solid relationships. Too often salespeople spend time making sales calls to prospects that have no distress. Worse than that, they follow-up the first call with a second one. And round and round the cycle goes. It`s the old Leave me some information and I`ll call you (or call me in a couple weeks) ". This leaves the optimistic salesperson in a fantasy world believing that they have a real opportunity.  Time is an entity that we can`t afford to waste, especially on unqualified prospects!

 

Learn how to uncover the needs (or distress) of your prospect by asking questions and refrain from trying to fix the problem too soon. The salesperson`s natural reaction is to suggest a solution far too early in the process. The scenario goes like this. After some friendly rapport (I hope) the heating and air conditioning salesperson sits with the prospect and asks how things are going. Her response is, OK, but I sure wish the temperature would be kept at a consistent level in the plant ". The natural reaction by the salesperson is to say, Oh "we can fix that with our new de- frostilator "mechanism"!

 

Whoa, Mr. Salesperson, hold on! You`re too early in the process.

It may be better to ask Ms. Prospect to explain a bit more in depth exactly what`s happening in the plant. It just might mean that the factory workers keep turning up the air and someone else keeps turning it down!

By asking probing questions the salesperson will not only uncover the problem, or lack thereof, but may also find some serious under laying factors that could lead to a larger, more productive sale. The conversation might also lead to a realization that this company isn`t a lead at all, and that you should politely say thanks for the opportunity and leave (of course asking for a referral might be in order before you actually exit the place).

 

Once you`ve begun to uncover some real opportunity, continue to stay away from the early fix. However, continue to stay on the questioning track. Isn`t that how detectives crack the case? Well, think of yourself as a sales detective trying to find the right solution to the deep-seated problems that the prospect may have.

 

And deep-seated they are. The prospect may be in a position where his or her job is on the line and if they don`t correct the situation they might lose their position and worse their house. Sounds a bit crazy "I think not. Distress is not something that`s evident on the surface, but it is often what drives the sale. People buy emotionally in order to relieve distress, fear, or gain pleasure and until a salesperson allows his or her prospect to reveal their emotions the sales call has not been as complete as it should be.

 

The friendly banter at the beginning of the conversation could have uncovered some problems that the prospect may be having at work, home or in some other aspect of life. Retaining the key points of that portion of the call may be useful at a later time as it relates to perhaps your product making it easier to get home early (if that`s a problem that was addressed earlier), or creating a more harmonious situation in the plant, or increasing the stature of the prospect in the eyes of his or her boss (suggested, of course, in a nurturing fashion).

 

It`s also imperative to find out how long your prospect has been trying to correct the problem with the air (for instance), how important that problem is "does it affect production, productivity, profits, etc. and how much money the problem is costing the company. The answer to the money question will also enable the salesperson to begin to formulate the question of budget.

 

If the problem is costing the company $250,000 a year and their budget is only $25,000, this is an opportunity to bring up the relevance of price (the actual sticker price) and cost (how much money the product will not only cost in real dollars, but save - or cost, in the case of comparing the salesperson`s product to that of a competitor " over the life of the contract or product).

 

Answers to these questions are not normally volunteered without prompting by the salesperson. It goes back to the old adage, When You`re telling, you`re not selling ".

I`ll add that when a salesperson is asking the right questions and listening to the answers, he or she is helping the prospect close the sale for them or enabling the prospect to show them that there is no sale at all.

 

Start the New Year with a resolution to listen in order to get the sales results you desire.

I wish you all a successful and happy 2010!

 

Dan Goldberg is a keynote speaker and the President of Dan Goldberg Consulting, L.L.C. a training, coaching and business development firm located in the Philadelphia, PA area. He is the author of the book Lighten Up and Lead, " co-author (with Don Martin) of the book, The Entrepreneur`s Guide to Successful Leadership, " and author of The Six Steps To Solid Sales Success™ " and The Seven Elements of Successful Leadership™ " programs and the audio tape Growing A Successful Business ". You can contact him at dg@dangoldberg.com, visit his website at www.dangoldberg.com or reach him at (215) 233-5352. You can also follow Dan on twitter at: http://twitter.com/dannygoldberg, become a fan of Dan on facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/DanGoldbergFB, and/or join his new facebook group; Mastering enLightened Leadership™at: http://bit.ly/DanGMeL. And - you can also join Dan on his first Mastering enLightened Leadership™ " Cruise. Visit http://tiny.cc/rqqQ9 for more details.