Sales Lessons From A Mentor

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Over the years I’ve been blessed to have worked with some great sales professionals. I looked at these older and more experienced sales pros as my personal mentors. They taught me a lot, and they really made a big difference in my ability to build my businesses.

One such pro, Mike, taught me three critical lessons. I want to share those with you today.

1. If you’re not in front of a prospect or customer you are unemployed.

The bottom line is that if you are in your car, or behind your desk, or at the lunch counter, you are out of business. If you depend on selling something to make a living or build your business, and you want to consider yourself employed, then you have to be in front of someone who has the potential to buy.

Over time, great sales professionals realize that they are in the people business. They are in the business or serving people and helping them achieve their personal or professional goals.

You can’t serve people, and you can’t close sales unless you are in front of prospects. You may sell your products face-to-face, or you may sell over the phone. Either way you must be in front of someone or have someone on the phone if you are to have a chance to make a sale.

The key point is not only to be in front of people, but to find a way to increase the amount of time during the day you are in a selling situation. Here are three ways you can do that:

— Manage your time carefully. Certain hours of the day are best for face-to-face or phone sales. The hours may be different for each of these as well as for different industries. What are the best hours in your industry? Schedule your day so that you do your paperwork and other non-revenue generating activities during the hours that you are least likely to be able to put yourself in front of a prospect or repeat customer.

— Evaluate all of the activities that you participate in during the day. Which ones could be delegated to an assistant? Which activities can you do after hours or on the weekend? Which activities are wasting your time? Now fill your day with activities that will put you in front of buyers.

— Stretch your day. Find organizations and activities that meet early, before the normal work day or in the evening. These specific networking opportunities extend the traditional work day and give you more productive time. If you can meet an extra two people a day, that will turn into ten people a week and five hundred people a year! Just think of what that will do to your sales productivity.

2. If you don’t ask for the order, you are just practicing and you are doing yourself and/or your employer a disservice.

Many sales people just don’t like to or don’t think to ask the final buying question. If you are in sales then you have to ask someone to buy. If you don’t, then you do not have a career, you have a hobby.

Your company pays you to ask for the order. If you own your own company then you should already know this.

The bottom line is this; it’s your job to sell. It’s your customer’s job to buy. If you are not asking for the order then you are not doing your job. Simple?

When you do ask for the order, remember to remain silent until your customer speaks. If you speak first, you will relieve the buying pressure and probably lose the sale. If they don’t want your product or service, trust me, they will tell you.

3. Sell the sizzle not the steak.

I know we’ve all heard this before, but it is well worth talking about. People are looking for the excitement. They want what’s special, different, and unique. People buy emotionally and justify the purchase after the fact rationally.

If emotion is a big part of the buying process, then the “sizzle” or emotion arousing characteristics of your product or service is what will attract the customer and help make the sale.

Let’s go further then the sizzle though. People don’t just buy features. They buy the benefits they will receive after they own the product or service. So with every feature you offer, each sizzle must have a related benefit for your prospect or customer.

What is exciting about your product or service? You must be able to answer this question. Maybe there is something different or unique. Maybe you have features that set you apart.

— Here is an exercise that will make you a pro at selling the sizzle and making it relevant for your customer.

Take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle. On the left side of the paper list every feature of your product or service. It does not matter if your competition has some of these same features because they are most likely not talking about them.

No matter how minor you may think the feature is, put it on the list.

Now on the right side of the sheet list at least one benefit your customer receives from each feature. If you can list two or three, then do it!

If your product comes in red or blue and you sell 98% blue you may not think that the fact it comes in red is important. Here’s how it works. The resulting benefit of these two colors is that your customer has a choice. If they change their mind before delivery they can get the other color. Maybe your competition does not offer the two colors. Get it?

Remember, it is not a feature or a benefit if only you know it. Tell your customers everything!

Even minor features can have real benefits. And, since I know your competition is not going into the detail that you will, unless of course I’ve trained them myself, you will gain a tremendous sales advantage.

Use this exercise alone or with members of your mastermind group. Develop sizzle. Turn all of your features into benefits that will compel your customers to buy, and you will be on the road to Building a Better Biz!

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