CONSULTATIVE PROFESSIONAL SELLING

I was once asked to be the lead presenter in a seminar on telephone marketing. We were approached by television journalists who wanted to know what smart tricks we were going to present. When they realised that this was not what we taught they quickly lost interest and so we did not contribute to any TV audience`s evening scandal viewing on that occasion. Consultative selling is most definitely not deceit or tricks of any kind. It is not what is commonly known as high pressure selling. I have no time for the crooks and charlatans, some of them unfortunately on the lecture circuit, who will teach you the `smart tricks` of selling. Consultative selling is not about sharp practice. Anyone having difficulty accepting this should not take up the profession until their attitude has changed, for they will never succeed as a consultative salesperson. Some readers may have been exposed, or trained to use high pressure techniques. I promise that Spearhead will show you a better, more profitable way. I do hold very strong views on this subject, for sharp practice makes it harder for everyone else in the selling profession. It deters good people from becoming salespeople to the detriment of British business and, pragmatically, it does not work over the longer term anyway. I, like most in the selling profession, came into it almost by accident. I had not planned to be a salesperson, I wanted to be a `Sales Manager`. Mainly because I had a vision of management being about comfortable offices, large cars, staff to do all the work and expense account lunches. How wrong I was! At that time my perception of the salesperson was that of a slightly sharp practitioner, shake hands and count your fingers afterwards. (I did not want to be one of those). About 50 years ago John Patterson who was Chairman of National Cash Register, at this time a very large global company, said: `"Nothing ever happens until someone first sells something`. More recently HRH Prince Philip The Duke of Edinburgh KG, KT. Wrote; `"Some people seem to believe that Governments can create employment by waving some magic wand, but no manufacturing enterprise can survive if it cannot profitably sell its products, which means that employment depends on profitable sales." The truth about Prince Philip`s words was reinforced by some research in the early eighties which showed that, on average 23, other jobs depended on the orders brought in by each salesperson. The top sales performer is a business person of the highest calibre. A consultative salesperson is at the vanguard of commercial enterprise, for without customers there would not be a need for companies or the whole complex structure of trade that is the engine for civilisation as we know it.

Working as a consultative salesperson is one of the most rewarding careers around. It is rewarding from two angles. The first is that job satisfaction angle - there is nothing to beat the buzz of winning a large contract. The tougher the negotiation the greater the satisfaction. It is rewarding from the income instance as well - globally selling is consistently one of the highest paid careers. Top sales practitioners frequently enjoy levels of income higher than many senior executives. Incidentally, many chief executives have reached their exalted positions via the marketing and or sales department route. It can be a good route for those keen to earn themselves promotion. Let us establish where today`s consultative selling has come from. People have sold things to one another for as long as recorded history. At school we learn about the Chinese, Phoenicians, Persians, Greeks, Romans and other great traders. There are many references to selling activities in the bible and it has been dubbed the second oldest profession. However, selling as we understand it probably started after the industrial revolution and the agricultural explosion, when goods and food were produced in greater quantities than could be consumed by local populations. In those early days sales were easy. Vast markets, many colonised by the powerful European counties, opened up. People were hungry for goods. The main problems related to travel, communications and ability to pay. The latter was resolved by reciprocal tied trade. Selling was something practised by ship`s captains and trading officers of the great companies e.g. Hudson`s Bay Fur Traders and The East India Company who would bargain at each end of their voyage. I will not pretend that all was well and fair at this time, locals were often exploited. Trade has often been rough, tough and violent. Overlapping this period came the `Carpet Baggers` and `Medicine Men` of the opening west U.S.A. Hawkers, tinkers and market traders abounded in Europe all enjoying reputations akin to timeshare and double glazing today. Caveat emptor! It was during the early 1930`s that salesman (few, if any, women at this time) working in ways that we would recognise, came into being. At this time they were known as `Commercial Travellers`. Later to be called `Representatives` or `Reps` and more recently `Sales Engineer` `Marketing Executive`, `Area Manager`, `Systems Consultant`, `Field Co-ordinator`, etc. Taking a slightly cynical stance, it seems almost anything goes, other than the honest title of `"Salesperson`. Let me make myself clear on this point. I see nothing seriously wrong with using an obscuring title as a P.R. exercise. After all to say `"I am a salesperson" smacks of - `"I am here to sell to you". However, be careful, who are you really kidding, the prospect is not a fool! I consider that the biggest danger of obscuring titles is that the holder may fail to recognise that they are salespeople and selling is what they are paid for. They find it convenient to believe that they are judged on criteria other than the quality of the business that they bring in. It is true that the Consultative Salesperson will only attempt to sell if the customer will gain from the transaction. Consultative Salespeople are employed to sell and will only make contact with those who they reasonably think might have a need for their goods or services. A Consultative Salesperson will not want to spend too much valuable time with people who do not have needs that they can satisfy.

We hear a lot about salespeople who trick customers into buying unsatisfactory goods, or goods that the customer does not need. The media and various consumer shows regularly run items about the latest confidence trickster masquerading as a salesperson.

CONSULTATIVE SELLING Consultative In the UK we suffer from a very class conscious society that lingers to this day and the profession of selling suffers from a stigma that I am pleased to say is diminishing. It has to be said that the price of becoming a professional is one that many salespeople do not seem willing to pay. If we expect respect from others we should have respect for ourselves and be willing to work at developing true professional qualities. More about this later. What are the implications of choosing the word consultative to describe the strategy for selling outlined in this workbook. Consultants are designated as such because they have particular knowledge and skills that are of value to be patient, client, or customer. To be really successful salespeople should also develop their knowledge to the point that they have valuable information to dispense. When customers with whom you have previously done business with start asking if you will come and see them as they have a problem they think you will be able to solve, you know you have cracked it. If those same customers start referring you to their friends without you asking them, you will know that you are on your way to being a consultant. There are other analogies. A consultant knows that time is precious and does not waste it. After all when you provide a service, time is all that you have to sell. The consultative salesperson will become very time conscious. Consultants do not become consultants without a lot of hard work. One of the problems with selling is that it is a relatively easy entry career. This can give the false impression that it is an easy option and thus attract the work shy who later on become the high pressure confidence trick artists. On a more positive note, consultants are usually fee earning. It is the best way to be paid. You are paid on results. If you are as good as you would wish, large incomes are possible. You really can earn what you are worth when you are fee earning. In Great Britain commission only or fee earning is not the most usual method of remuneration and the culture will not change overnight. I believe salespeople should think like fee earners and recognise that they are paid by results. Professional What do we understand by the word professional? The Professions (traditionally teaching, medicine, the law) have come in for a lot of criticism in recent years. Many, especially teachers, have expressed dissatisfaction and have left to pursue other vocations. Professional, as in being a member of a

Knowledge alone is not sufficient.ask any professional sportsperson. Knowledge and attitude are very important but they are not enough to guarantee your success. Customers are not `punters`. It implies standards are set and maintained. For another view of the implications of the word professional for salespeople let us look at one of the traditional professions. The professional salesperson has to learn and go on learning for the duration of their career. let us now take a look at selling. for example. Knowledge and the willingness to study are the first common professional requirements. It is not coincidence that all the older professions set up in practice. the Consultative salesperson will live by a number of profession standards. One is a professional because of the way one approaches the job. nor are they for `stitching up`. You may have the knowledge required to effectively sell your products and/or services but constant practice is essential to develop your skills. such phrases show a lack of proper concern which will actually inhibit sales. To be `professional` also implies a certain attitude of mind. Often this is written into codes of conduct and a doctor may be struck off and not allowed to practise if found in breach of these ethical codes. There is no body in selling enforcing standards. we have dealt with professional. Take the medical profession. Both are in `"the people business". teacher etc. In the medical profession this is concern for the patient. It is this attitude of mind that I consider to be important. lawyer. We have dealt with consultative. The right mental attitude towards your customers. There are common elements which occur in all other professions and parallel what has to happen in selling. will be the major factor in your success in the profession of selling. as in professional sports person.profession (doctor. Concern for the customer is an essential ingredient in the make up of a professional salesperson. It is likely that one cannot become a really good doctor or for that matter a really good salesperson unless one likes (or at least has a strong interest in) people. your company and most of all to yourself. `A good bedside manner` is one indicator of a caring doctor. SALES CAREERS . Practice is part of the price of being professional . the job of a General Practitioner. Professionals are expected to display a particular attitude: a professional attitude. however. This concern should place the interest of the patient or client at least on par to the self interest of the professional. A doctor has to study to acquire the knowledge essential to becoming qualified.) does not have the social status it once held so what does the word mean now and why it is important for salespeople? One implication of the word relates to earning a living by working at the profession.

double glazing. The reward for success can be very high but aware. have been sold many times over before it ends up as something to sell to the public. etc.g. as well as selling skills. self motivation.you may well have been on the receiving end at some time! Direct sales also covers some financial services (in recent years much more tightly controlled than it used to be). Many captains of industry have come from this back ground. consultancy and of course labour. goods and services to manufacture the product. Richard Branson. cosmetics. there many high risk areas. Consider that everything sold to the public will. . electrical goods. and some of the biggest crooks. or have had strong links with retailing e.000 salespeople sell to businesses in England alone. party plans. Clearly in this sector there are many reputable companies of impeccable pedigree. Direct sales can be lonely and is not a good job for the gregarious. no pressure and totally lacking in customer interest. It has been estimated that more than 300. kitchens. or what is probably worse. Selling can sometimes be crude and high pressure. The main reason is that it is easy to get into with few qualifications. The staff required to sell to these varied markets in the business to business sector uses every permutation of speciality and technical knowledge. Jack Cohen (founder of Tesco). Some are supported by heavy marketing. Marcus Sieff. Good people skills are needed to be good at retailing. Business to Business Selling This is a vast sector. Telephone canvassing is often used . furniture shops and many others employ salespeople. There also exists a charlatan element. Industry and commerce are great users of everything from toilet paper to computers. some have canvassers looking for leads. Many good professional salespeople have acquired their skills from retail selling. Retail Selling Department stores. components. Product (stock) knowledge is all too often lacking. Alan Sugar of Amstrad. bathrooms. swimming pools. Jobs in this sector call for determination. water softeners etc. In this sector we have the home improvements salespeople:. Quality varies from untrained and unimpressive to the exact opposite. drives. timeshare. plus interpersonal and selling skills. patios. in the form of raw materials. Ray Krock (McDonald`s) and many others. The direct sales area attracts some of the most professional salespeople around. multi-level marketing. insurance. Businesses are the main users of services such as banking. Marks and Spencers.Front line selling jobs include: The Direct Salesperson Sells direct to the public. The Sainsbury family. an ability to keep going.

This deception was unlikely to be discovered until some long time after the statue was sold. de boom.if you are not sure of the vendor the usual reaction is to turn the deal down. or who lets you down with an important delivery. de boom". Clearly one can develop a very long list. If I find a ten pound note in a customer`s suit pocket. The man replied. Reliability One of the most annoying things in business is someone who does not ring back when they say they will. if not actually caused. Today. `"It is like this son. Sincerity The word literally means `without wax` and goes back to the Greek and Roman empires.Showroom Selling Rather like retailing but often with an element of direct selling. WHAT ARE THE PERSONAL QUALITIES REQUIRED FOR SALES SUCCESS? There is a saying that. e. we all draw our own moral standard lines. de boom. by a lack of confidence. Integrity This is a difficult word to define. There is a little jingle that goes. Depressed people do not spend so readily. Any definition of R. To be successful at selling oneself as a person who people like to do business with calls for many skills and personal qualities. Good people skills. before you can sell the product you have to sell yourself. Most news is bad news. I am reminded of a proprietor of a dry cleaning shop being asked to define the word by his son. Marble statues were in vogue in those times and unscrupulous traders would plug holes in the marble with wax. do I tell your mother or not?". Most customers berate salespeople with their woes. (right mental attitude) should include the word `positive`. Sincere was a guarantee that the status was sound.g. Most depressions are aggravated. It really does not matter how good the deal is . good trade and product knowledge are required for success in showroom selling. `"Always look on the bright side of life . Think about this for a moment. Very appropriate for salespeople.A. Attitude This was mentioned in chapter one. . The following list has been developed by several thousand salespeople on Spearhead Training courses endeavouring to answer the above question. The words below are the ones most frequently used by salespeople themselves.de boom. Keeping your promises is a key quality. people will only deal with people they trust. a car salesperson may operate from a showroom but spend a lot of their time selling to business fleet buyers.M.

You know why others have purchased from your company and are able to communicate these benefits in a way that enables the customer to visualise what you are saying. Confidence and Competence Confidence has just been mentioned in the paragraph above but it is worth a few more words as it is one of the more important professional qualities. I use it as an equation:(Competence = Confidence) and (Confidence = Competence) The more you know about. means knowing what they will do for customers. There are people who capture your interest simply by their enthusiasm. Conscious Competence. 4. Most of us react very positively to an enthusiastic person. the more confident you will become. they must be getting some benefit from the offer. your offer and the Company you represent. After all. if others are buying. check. Ignorance is bliss.Enthusiasm Closely related to attitude. David Bellamy the botanist. If you have some satisfied customers they must have chosen your company for a reason. or less expensive. Many sales are not made because the salesperson will hang back in the mistaken belief that the prospective customer needs a `"better" deal. It also requires that this knowledge is put into perspective. 2. It is becoming clear that all these quality words are linked. I am not particularly excited by botany but Bellamy`s enthusiasm holds me from flicking channels. I know how to do it and can do a good job when I think and prepare. the customer may have other reasons why they do not wish to deal with the competitor. I would like to understand. In consultative selling we are working to turn the skills into habits. It could be that the salesperson actually believes that the competitor`s product is of higher quality. . This is a quality that can be worked on and comes from being sincere and having confidence in yourself. Unconscious Incompetence. Knowing about products etc. 1. including competitors. Conscious Incompetence. Real understanding is knowing why your deal is good for the customer. If you do not believe in your offer. The advantages perceived by the salesperson may not seem particularly important to the prospective customer. one such person is Dr. your business. Knowledge and Understanding The process of learning goes through four stages. your customers and your markets. Unconscious Competence. One that is inextricably linked to confidence is competence. For me. In cases where a competitive product does have some advantages. enthusiasm is a powerful quality. selling. 3. It could be your attitude that is wrong. I react instinctively. You will find that customers will allow you to get away with statements and actions that will challenge coming from someone with less enthusiasm.

Empathy.` variety. On a hot day. most of us pong a bit . having driven fifty miles. which is not quite correct.what you do about it depends on circumstances. Professional selling is all about satisfying today`s needs. Personal Hygiene During my career I have known a number of salespeople with a `personal problem`. The tragedy is that their careers are inhibited and they do not know why. . Customers often say `"no" even to the most reasonable of suggestions. We have one who visits our office. then it is your duty to try and convince the customer. If you cannot in all honesty justify selling your employer`s products should you be willing to continue accepting salary cheques from this particular employer? A qualified consultative salesperson has little difficulty finding good quality representation opportunities.We talk about integrity. he sells very little and we will never explain the real problem. A sense of Humour We do not mean of the `"Have you heard the one about`. A sense of humour can often defuse an otherwise tense situation. means understanding why your customer holds a particular view but not necessarily agreeing with that view. sincerity and other character qualities. Determination Selling is a tough job. We should be realistic. such as seeing you for just a few minutes. Rejection by others is an everyday occurrence. in a hot car. The question for the professional salesperson is: `"Will the customer`s circumstances be improved by going ahead with us?" If you can give an honest `"yes` to this question. although it can have its place with a like minded social type. The ability to laugh at oneself will often strengthen the bond between you and your contact. humour can do much to raise morale. It is wrong to try to sell a Rolls Royce when the customer really needs a Ford Fiesta and it is wrong not to try to sell our product or service if the circumstances are favourable. This constant rejection is hard to take and calls for some persistence from a determined sales person. Do not attempt to tell jokes unless this is already a personal skill. without air conditioning. If our product or service matches the prospective customer`s needs then we should try to make the sale. Empathy Sometimes given as sympathy. Sales success is often not down to being brilliant but avoiding some silly mistakes that could cost you the business. If you work as part of a team. That is what we are paid for.

figures and names. I agree that the salesperson is a combination of several animals. He must be as proud as a peacock in his appearance and as loyal as the family dog to his company. he must work like a beaver and be as industrious as an ant in order to succeed". He must be able to smile like a Cheshire cat when he feels like crying and be as quite as a mouse when listening to his customer. `"Do you agree?" When the assembled group had agreed. thinking this was a serious presentation. Eats like a pig. the delegate went on: `"I have a little brain because I am a sales manager. He must be as quick as a cheetah when chasing up a new enquiry but have the patience of a spider building a web when preparing a proposal. He`s as rough as a badger`s *****. He breeds like a rabbit. In fact he is a combination of several animals. Above all. He talks like a parrot. Drinks like a fish. He must have eyes like a hawk to spot every opportunity and have the memory of an elephant to remember a million facts. He must have the courage of a lion when going to see an awkward customer but be as gentle as a lamb when dealing with a delegate situation. Laughs like a hyena. He stood out in front of the group and said: `"A salesperson is often referred to as an unusual animal. And most of the time he is as drunk as a newt!" THE EMPLOYER`S VIEW OF THE CONSULTATIVE SALESPERSON . He must be as single minded as a lemming to close that important order and have the determination of a salmon swimming upstream to achieve his targets.Some years ago a delegate attending a training course produced the following as his answer to the qualities required of a professional salesperson. He must be as strong as an ox to carry all the members of his company on his back and have the wisdom of an owl when advising a prospect.

In my early days as a salesman I recall one of my colleagues borrowing a company van over the Christmas holiday. Salespeople are representatives of their company. There are a surprising number of maverick salespeople out there who do not fit in to the company hierarchy but who do not get made redundant or fired because they keep bringing in orders. rusting. Ways to reduce waste. Rudeness and bad manners have cost their perpetrators many orders in the past and you might benefit if one of your competitors is this foolish. The salesperson is employed primarily to bring in profitable business. They buy to help their business and themselves. Looking the part is halfway to being the part. A further role expected by the company is that of market intelligence. Helping them to sell more. Reports are expected and I have to say that this is a chore that many salespeople do not enjoy. The salesperson operates at the spearhead of business and is the eyes and ears of the company. The emphasis will vary from employer to employer but most job descriptions will include reference to the following. This is the number one priority area. Making the job easier for them. It could do irreparable damage to your image if you arrived for a meeting without the right literature or report. He crashed it and was dismissed on returning to work early in January. Ideas that can help them to achieve more.Salespeople are provided with employment for just three reasons. Image is built up not just by the way you look but by the way you behave. Etc. transit van wearing scruffy jeans and a T shirt . As such they are not expected to uphold the image of the company. By showing how you can further their business objectives.would you? Image is very important. without authority. THE BUSINESS CUSTOMERS` VIEW OF THE CONSULTATIVE SALESPERSON Many of our customers are in business themselves. You would not expect the representative of one of the world`s leading pharmaceutical houses to arrive in a beaten up. Presenting them with ideas . About the middle of January he returned to the company with a fistful of orders and was promptly reinstated. The view that they should have of the consultative salesperson is someone who will help them progress in their business and you do this in three ways. . Compute solutions have helped in this process but it still takes discipline to send a report at the end of a very long day. Showing how to cut costs.which they find helpful News of new techniques.

c. Some knowledge of your customer`s circumstances. or counsellor. Some knowledge of your customer`s business. It has nothing to do with forcing them to buy goods and services that they do not need. It is theoretically possible to balance advertising spend and direct selling effort. By showing how you can further their lifestyle objectives Helping them to earn more. Taken to the ultimate. not a confidence trickster.To understand them and their business Which means you need good product knowledge. a consultant. selling is a promotional activity. The professional salesperson is an adviser. Showing how to cut living costs. etc.m. To understand them and their family lifestyle You need good market knowledge.g. Everything else is a cost. Good market knowledge. Presenting them with ideas which they find helpful News of new goods and services. the same three points apply with slight modifications. Ideas that help them to achieve more. To summarise. Making life easier for them. there are products and services sold by direct response advertising without salespeople. An increase in the advertising spend reduces the need for sales effort. DEFINING SELLING WITHIN MARKETING Selling has been defined as the only activity in a commercial company that makes profit. Ways to reduce waste. (fast moving . consultative selling is all about helping people to achieve what they want. THE PRIVATE CUSTOMERS` VIEW OF THE CONSULTATIVE SALESPERSON If your business is selling direct to the public. Good industry knowledge. Most f. In the marketing sense.

quickly leads one to the conclusion that as a representative of the company your job is really that of a two way communicator.consumer goods) companies advertise heavily. acting as go between for the customer and the enterprise. as described above. For example. Communication is vital but remember. Looking at what salespeople actually do. Part of the communication process between humans. It follows that the communication skills need to be worked at and we will have a look at these shortly. Here. Many business to business marketeers are having to stimulate demand by promotional appeals to the actual user. and a host of other supports. quotas and Government regulation. substitute products. At the other end of the scale there are many businesses particularly many smaller businesses who do not advertise in the conventional sense. stimulating demand from the end user and thereby almost forcing the retailers to stock their products. Another view of selling is that of an interpersonal skill. The compensation often comes in the earnings potential. manufacture under licence. These customers often employ salespeople. In the modern world marketing is very complex. `Selling` is the acceptance by one human being of the ideas presented by another. `selling` is the art of persuasion. negotiate contract terms and work at getting listings and special promotional deals for their product ranges. as it is. Their job has come a long way from the order taker of yesteryear. all add to the headaches of running a business. as we work through this book looking at the specialised communication process that we call selling. It is not necessary for goods. pricing. THE MARKETING RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE CONSULTATIVE SALESPERSON Remembering that the major responsibility of the salesperson is profitable business we should examine some of the elements that make up profitable business. . They may use distributors and wholesalers to bundle their products with hardware and sell them as a total solution. The user may not be their immediate customer. Everything in promotion and distribution comes down to cost effective balancing of the alternative options to achieve marketing objectives. in theory at least. saving alternate marketing costs. I want to introduce an important idea. We all try to exert some influence over others. The salespeople (often calling themselves Key Account Managers). Retailing nowadays is a sophisticated operation with automatic re-ordering done by computer. own labelling. The company can (I hope) afford to be generous. These salespeople have to find people to sell to (prospecting) and complete the whole sale process with little support. Therefore. distribution. Before we leave this marketing section let us consider some of the marketing responsibilities of the salesperson. Competitive activities. These extremes represent an over simplification of the true market position for most companies. software houses may advertise to the user through direct mail and the trade press. services or cash to have been exchanged for `a sale` to have been made. tariffs and trade barriers. We can view sales promotion including selling as the communicating aspect of marketing. that in most markets salespeople need product management.

Beetle and the 2CV Citroen. If it is in any sort of luxury. mainly because management believes that they will take the easy option and give away maximum discounts. and that they are likely to be one of the early casualties. however the weight of evidence suggests otherwise. better to persuade the customer to accept the deal you put on the table (sell them). `"Why did they buy a car in the first place?` Probably to provide transport for self and family. Their wants and needs are a mixture of rational and emotional drives. how and when of motivating people. Even cheap `"wheels" often develop a cult following. It is a very complex subject. they are people watchers. rather than negotiate a compromise away from this position. It is after all. Consultative salespeople must be interested in the way people behave. How much do I sell it for? Many salespeople are not allowed any negotiating latitude by their management. why.First of all there is the question of price. As salespeople we must take a pragmatic view. Possibly to use in connection with business. If it is felt that the fault lies with any particular salesperson`s low performance.W. we need to know what works and what does not. Achieving the required volume is important. In extreme cases the business will become vulnerable to takeover or failure. People buy goods and services for what they will do for them. People buy to satisfy their wants and needs. Why does a person buy a car? Maybe to replace an earlier model that has worn out . I need to lose weight . They do not buy things for what they are.many salespeople are preoccupied with turnover rather than profit.in which case we have to ask. one they will tell you and the real one". There is some truth in this . We like to think we are logical. I will guarantee that the purchase will have been made to enhance personal image. or top of the range model. Probably it is more comfortable and more convenient to use than alternative transport. This may indicate that the average salesperson should be more financially aware and develop their negotiating skills. This is likely to produce cuts in spending and staff as management try to correct the shortfall.I want a good dinner tonight. Failure to reach target will damage the cash flow and profitability requirements of the organisation. WHY PEOPLE BUY GOODS AND SERVICES Behavioural scientists have studied human beings for many years to try and explain the what. egocentric reasons that are a factor in almost all major purchases. Think of the V. Wants are more powerful than needs. Both subjects naturally follow the acquisition of selling skills. He was referring to the status. Henry Ford once said `"People have at least two reasons for buying a car. . sports.

For example an identical model toaster. You are going out to dinner and want to look your best. The sales management conundrum about whether it is better to recruit technicians who can learn to sell. This is not the same as cheap. This negative selling behaviour leads to a price fixation. It follows that an understanding of what the product does is much more important than deep technical insight into what makes up the product. There is a concentration on cheap offers in spite of all the evidence that people buy that which they need combined with that which offers them best value for money. Whatever the background of the salesperson. quite the opposite. rather than what it does. Price becomes important when you are able to compare identical goods. In other words explaining what it is. That right price is what you are willing to pay to satisfy your wants and needs at the time. The better the salesperson`s knowledge. These seemingly obvious points clearly escape many sales staff for they never get round to selling benefits but concentrate their energies on describing the features of their product or service. . Best value for money is in the mind of the purchaser. There is a price for most things. Consider a decision to have your haircut.The prospective customer must want the goods or services more than they want the money that they spend on them.50 and you will probably take it. Otherwise they would prefer to keep the money and would not buy. Of course there are many products and services which require the salesperson to have a deep technical knowledge in order to know what the product can do for the customer. PEOPLE BUY TO SATISFY WANTS AND NEEDS Peoples` wants and needs are a mixture of rational and emotional drives. You would probably change hairstylist. There may also be health and safety requirements to satisfy. learning what it is your products can do (that customers want done) is vital. selling benefits first. market to market and salesperson to salesperson. In fact research has shown that salespeople who concentrate on selling what a product is are only about ten percent as successful as those who can make the mental switch to selling what the product will do. I am not saying the salesperson does not have to understand the product. We call this benefit selling. Let us take a look at that process. or salespeople who can learn about the technicalities varies from company to company. A haircut will cost you £12. last and in the middle. or go without (buy a wig?). 2) `"This washing machine will look after your washing while you are at work". the easier it is to relate to the needs of the customer. Convenience commands a premium. However. Which is likely to be the most powerful sales statement? 1) `"This washing machine is fitted with a timer". Supposing the haircut was priced at £200. The consultative salesperson does this all the time. would you drive another ten miles to get if for a pound less? We all buy things from local shops rather than go into the supermarket even though it costs less in the supermarket.

This enables one to claim advantages for a particular product or service when compared with another. their motivation to act is far greater than if they simply need it. For a feature to provide a benefit for the customer. B. or `"likely` benefits. If the need can be satisfied the next step that the salesperson must take is letting the customer discover that the need exists. When someone wants to do something. . Unless they want it. they must have an actual need. The process looks like this: Features >> Advantages >> Benefits F. Then the customer must recognise how much they stand to gain by satisfying this need. How this process is achieved is explained in subsequent chapters of this workbook. there is no benefit. that the customer wants done. different needs. Furthermore the customer must recognise the need themselves. in which case it is the salesperson who first has to identify the need for the customer e. Consultative selling often contains high elements of `"missionary` sales work. A manufacturer of a washing machine may have a faster spin drying speed than the rival products. Let us stay with washing machines for a while to illustrate the points. The consultative salesperson often has to fan the spark of interest from the recognised need into the flame of desire. Someone else buys it as a present for a loved one. the want. that turns a likely benefit into a selling point. They must want it. The potential customer may not always realise that they have a need. A. Let us now take a closer look at the process of FEATURES leading to ADVANTAGES providing the LIKELY BENEFITS. Every feature of a product or service is comparable with other suppliers` features. The definition of a benefit is what the product or service will do. We say `"likely benefits` for it is by no means certain that they will actually be benefits. how many businessmen wanted computers in the 1950`s. One person buys a camera to snap the family. AND LIKELY BENEFITS FEATURES and ADVANTAGES which provide BENEFITS. Same camera. Only when the customer wants to satisfy the need and salesperson can match the need can a sale take place. It is helpful to think of `wants` as emotional and `needs` as logical. That is work spreading the word on new technology and/or products. An estate agent uses it to help sell houses.g.There is an analytical process which salespeople need to do well. Clearly the need existed but could not be satisfied and was not recognised. They will vary in every case. That process is able to be able to take a feature or attribute of the product or service and relate it to the likely benefit that it will bestow on the customer. Needs are individual and it is the salesperson`s job to establish what they are.

It is apparent from the following sales dialogues why these distinctions are so important to the salesperson. This is not creative selling.not very good odds! Selling `advantages` is better than selling `features` and increases the chance of converting a sale to a willing potential customer to about forty percent.That is one of the features. . Most salespeople have to visit potential customers at their premises. It presents two potential benefits. This is often due to the fact that it is the seller that makes the first contact. The likely benefits are convenience and possibly time saving (clothes coming from this washing machine are ready to iron). Clearly advantages are stronger selling points than features but they are not relevant unless the customer has already decided that they want the product or service and it is therefore comparing what you offer with what they could buy elsewhere.or the drying cycle will be shorter. The statement by salesperson `"B" obviously contains the more powerful sales appeal. Relying on the customer may be all too common practice when someone enters a retail shop. The advantage of this faster spin speed is clothes are drier from this machine when compared with others on the market. The prospective customer`s level of want is lower than someone visiting the shop or showroom. Assessing the advantages of your product is a useful step towards listing the likely benefits that will accrue to the customer. Cost and energy savings are likely benefits as the clothes will not need a further heated drying cycle . Salesperson A `"This washing machine has a faster spinning drum`. Buyers expect strong reasons for dealing with any particular company. it is simply relying on the customers to purchase. Salesperson B `"This washing machine will dry your clothes better than these other machines". Statement `"A" on the other hand relies on the customer translating the feature into a personal benefit. This does not make it the right way to sell. Some will do this but only about ten percent of total potential customers . Salesperson A `"This washing machine has a faster spinning drum". Salesperson B `"This washing machine can save you time and money". Consider the following dialogue. retail salespeople will find the key points of consultative selling work well in shop and showroom selling.

People do not leave their egos at home when they go to work. If a businessman has been dealing with a friend (I mean a strong personal fried not just a casual acquaintance). As these intangible benefits are emotional in origin it is harder for the salesperson to focus on them in quite the same way as the tangible benefits. Like is an emotion. might be seen as a near identical product or service. at firs sight. I mentioned that people buy to satisfy their emotional needs as well as their logical ones. I accept the other. This is usually on the grounds that they do not feel able to complain as strongly as they would in the case of sub standard goods supplied by a stranger or business acquaintance. Or some similar justification. Over the years research has shown a typical figure of around ten percent. It follows that this particular resistance is more likely to occur when the prospective customer is concerned with service considerations. Since emotional appeals are so powerful they are frequently used by advertising companies as the platform on which the product is sold. The premium can be said to be the price of friendship. how much discount below the friend`s price will a stranger have to give to get the business? Pick your own figure. convivial company and lifestyle rather than the drink itself. The power of the intangible influences is particularly strong when one is offering what.THE INTANGIBLE INFLUENCES Earlier. Of course the actin is justified by a `logical` argument. In fact the answer is likely to be more than can be afforded as a discount. A product from company `A` might be absolutely identical to that supplied by company `B`. Proof of the strength of intangible influences can be illustrated by a fairly common business situation. Emotional needs are the more powerful motivators. There is plenty of evidence to support this argument. In such circumstances the decision will be taken on emotional grounds. Why do nations go to war`? Logic dictates that most are `no win` situations. When one thinks about this it is not logical that people are prepared to pay around ten percent more for service provided by people they like. People claim that they are motivated by logic. often quoted. Many alcoholic beverages sell friends. this is not true. . view that people do not like buying things from real friends. Why wear ties or shoes with high heels? It is relatively easy to recognise human emotions at work in consumer purchases but they are also present in business to business sales. `"I know I can rely on their delivery". but in fact. Watch barristers smile and rub their hands in anticipation when a client says that it is a point of principle. followed closely by the confidence the buyer has in the reputation of the vending company. The most likely emotional influence is the relationship between the buyer and salesperson.

Confidence. They are commonly the reason for not buying from a particular person or organisation. Public attitudes are constantly changing over quite short periods of time. For example. opinions and attitudes change with time. Sixty five percent gave extra comfort as the prime reason for their decision. Often these intangible influences may not be the main reason for buying. Although we all try to give logical reasons for our actions. Ten percent said they wished to be more comfortable and five percent gave added property value as the most important point. Consider the results of a survey of purchasers of cavity wall insulation. . if you are in the market for a used car but you consider the company or the salesperson you deal with as somewhat lacking in integrity and moral worth. Conversely no understanding must mean we cannot recognise need. It is interesting to observe just how people`s needs. It follows that the level of customers’ need is important to the salesperson since it must influence the strategy and tactics that the salesperson should use. you are unlikely to buy. integrity are all intangible issues that relate to our emotional needs. Few even mentioned fuel savings. In other words if their concerns are not fully satisfied the prospective customer will not buy. If a prospective customer does not have the confidence they will not buy and it does not matter how good the deal might be.It is not quite as easy for the salesperson to use such emotional appeals in face-to-face selling but it is very important that the salesperson is aware of the power that emotional influences have on decisions. tastes. While the work was being carried out eighty five percent of the control group gave financial gain (fuel savings) as the main reason why they were having the work done. THE LEVELS OF CUSTOMER AWARENESS The level of customer awareness is important. Clearly understanding what a product does will not necessarily mean we want or need the product. Twelve months after the work was carried out the control group were again asked why they had cavity wall insulation installed. Think how green issues now influence customer behaviour. Companies spend millions of pounds building their images. They know the contribution this makes to goodwill. image. such logic does not withstand close scrutiny. Our levels of awareness move from completely unaware with no understanding through to very aware with strong understanding and possibly great personal need.

There are only five ways of communicating with another human being and that is via the five senses of touch. In this chapter we are going to look at some of the key skills and consider how you can develop your abilities in this area. Only then can the sale move forward Medium Is only slightly interested. Selling depends upon communication. About 25% of what settles in our brains has been heard. smell. They are in order of . We believe that which we see more readily than that which we hear. Roughly 45% of our knowledge has come about through observation.The table below gives examples and indicates the salesperson’s strategy. This means that the other three senses account for some 30% in total. Level of awareness strength of want High Possible customer action Will seek out a supplier. May want to compare product features. Of these five senses it has been established that sight is the primary input sense. There is a myth that the best salespeople are extrovert characters. Salespersons’ strategy Sell benefits related to features. sight and hearing. As you read this chapter you will see why this is a false premise. Hearing is the next most important input sense. This may be change of circumstances. Sell the benefits of change. In practice. Must sell the big benefits to get the customer’s interest. taste. this means balancing the amount of sales explanation to the probe questions used when establishing the exact portfolio of customer needs. Help focus on issues important to the customer. Some of us are naturally more outgoing than others. Low Does not really want to know. COMMUNICATION SKILLS USED TO SELLING The salesperson is a communicator. Communication skills can always be improved whatever abilities you start with. An essential skill for the salesperson is the ability to communicate with customers and prospects.

. To replace what the telephone system takes away you have to be much more careful with your voice and the choice of words. The following notes include specific telephone techniques as well as some general points on developing your voice. taste and smell. Hold the hand piece about two or three inches from the mouth and speak across the mouthpiece. However. followed by appeals to touch. knowing that they reinforce the message to the customer. count your blessings for you are very fortunate. the fact remains that the full frequency range of the human voice is partially lost through the transmission process. not directly into it. Special care is required when using the telephone. The loss of frequency makes the voice sound ‘flatter’ than normal with a subsequent loss of inflection and meaning. or while driving on the motorway. the receiver of the call may have difficulty interpreting your precise meaning. Voice Control To give ‘colour’ to your voice. If you are one. pronunciation and breathing. practice some hearty renditions in the bath. This first contact will probably be by telephone. Whatever the tonal qualities of your voice. The telephone system transmits the voice via an electro-mechanical system. Try it! Developing a good voice needs practice. They are: a) b) c) d) e) f) Variations in volume Variations in speed Inflection Modulation Pausing Tone Skilful use of the voice means learning to use these variables to create exactly the right feel to your voice. Let us now look at each in turn. good the present system may be. plus care and attention to the following: Clarity of Speech The three ingredients of clear speech are diction. You may sing formally in recreation. The professional salesperson will use as many appeals to the senses as possible. The modern professional salesperson frequently uses the telephone. taste and smell. I will start with the voice for it is most likely to be the first method of contact. When on the telephone it is best to speak deliberately and slower than normal. Without the visual image of your face to help understanding. it will be helped by an exercise and one of the best exercises is singing. so it makes sense to work at developing good telephone sales techniques as part of your portfolio of selling skills. the six variables are important. In practice this means that communication is by way of the voice and/or using the written word.importance touch. and/or showing something. YOUR VOICE Some of us have beautiful voices.

That will not work. ESTABLISHING COMMUNICATION BETWEEN BUYER AND SELLER We have all heard those conversations where two people. The result – a total breakdown in communication. However. There are five guidelines to help you to establish effective two-way participative. Obvious perhaps when face to face. Do try to avoid unnecessary jargon. Guideline 1. Participative discussion with a customer makes the sales task much easier. If you need to use technical words. each is trying to monopolise talking time. Effective communication is the goal which also means taking account of the person being addressed. the telephone actually magnifies your attitude. These are what we commonly refer to as ‘sales techniques”. Sometimes particular communication techniques are refined.Using words Simple words and easy to understand sentences are ‘golden rules’ for good communication. “Hello” said with a smile. deliberately slow down and make a special effort to pronounce the words clearly and precisely. do not listen or respond to the other party. who may not understand your local expressions. each trying to make their point of view known. Demonstration techniques use a sequence to give power to the demonstration. or words which are hard to understand. when face to face or on the telephone: To put yourself in the right frame of mind think a smile it really works. Scientific research has shown that when we smile we actually bring about chemical changes in the body. if you are depressed you sound uncaring and unhelpful. This is partly true when talking to someone from another country or even another part of your country. it is not appropriate for you to go around with a horrible fixed grin. It follows that “selling”. We shall be looking at all of these. relies on two-way communication between a seller and a buyer and the salesperson must use the unique two-way opportunity. slang and colloquialisms. What you say to a friend is different to what you say to a new business contact. Asking Questions . A one sided dialogue does not require the presence of a sales person – a tape or video cassette could get the message across and would probably be cheaper than sending in a salesperson. Attitude When you are face to face. Appearance and facial expressions are very important parts of communication. If you feel irritable you sound angry. communications. the visible image that you present will have considerable bearing on the interpretation of what you say. which as we have already seen is the art of persuasion. Closing techniques are refined questioning techniques. Opening techniques employ carefully constructed statements. is more welcoming than without. but surprising as it may seem. No. Instead. You might think that it does not matter when on the telephone.

properly evaluate and retain less than a quarter of what is said to us. Find out and frequently use the other party’s name. you are in the wrong business. Many salespeople are so anxious to make their ‘sales pitch’ that they do not listen to the customer and thereby miss opportunities to satisfy the customer’s real needs. Think about this. you understand and accept that there is another point of view – even when you do not agree. Few people are naturally good listeners and it is not a skill commonly taught in school. meeting people you do not know well. I suggest that you should deliberately work at developing your listening skills. as you have chosen to go into the people business. It is probably not too strong to state that if you do not like people. Guideline 2. sometimes called direct and indirect questions. or at least find them endlessly interesting.Questions are the most valuable asset that the consultative salesperson has to help make the sale. Take the initiative and use the following simple techniques to keep the other party’s attention. The person with whom you struck up some rapport was almost certainly someone who showed an interest in you – for whatever reason. Open questions demand answers other than “yes” and “no”. The word to describe this process is empathy. Tests have shown that often we hear. . Are you a people person? I do hope so. Be able to Relate to Customers The other party is an individual person with motivations and views which will differ and may even conflict with your own. Who do you like or find easy to get on with? Think possibly of a social gathering. Clearly you have to know how to construct an open question. A guideline for use in consultative selling is to ask open questions to gather information and closed questions to get decisions. the consultative salespeople are the professional communicator. understand. Guideline 4. Maintain the other party’s attention You.”. Ask yourself: What decisions do I want the customer to make? What reasons might a customer have for not making that decision? What can I do or say which will make the decision easier to make? See everything from the others point of view – and encourage the other party to do the same ask: “Put yourself in my shoes…. We are interested in those who are interested in us. There are two kinds of question – open questions and closed questions. Guideline 3. Part of professionalism means that without getting emotionally involved. Listening It is a fact that most people are inefficient listeners.

As Abraham Lincoln once said. in part. indicates whether they are alert or not. Oh look that woman is consoling that child.We all respond to our name whenever it is used. For the consultative salesperson the important elements of body language are: POSTURE: The way you or someone else sits. You know that if someone in a crowded room mentions your name. FACIAL EXPRESSIONS: Frowning. You will be thought of as a good conversationalist if you use frequent open questions to keep the conversation going. GAZE BEHAVIOUR: Look at those two over dinner. an ability to read and understand body language. BODY POSITIONING: We move towards those we like. Use every opportunity to talk with others. This will enable you to disagree without confrontation. “If you would win a man to your cause. even though you were not aware of the preceding conversation. Work at communication Communication is a life skill. do so by looking at the case from the other party’s point of view. GESTURE: You know exactly what that fellow in the other car was trying to communicate. BODY LANGUAGE Observing people is an important part of communication that has only recently become more fully understood and accepted. Questions demand answers which in turn ensures attention. Skills have to be practised in order to improve. BEARING AND GATE: The self assured swagger of some is a clear sign of their confidence. as ‘Devil’s Advocate’. Remember that being a good listener. When asked a question we respond. eyebrow lifting. and winking all add to the spoken word. smiling. If you agree with someone. At social gatherings to be the one to deliberately open or lead conversations. . “I realise you would like to earn more?” Guidelines 5. they cannot be married? BODY CONTACTS: Those footballers are pleased. As with listening skills (where hearing is only a part of listening) there is the matter of evaluation and interpretation before understanding can take place between people with no common language at the gesture level. Respect is shown by walking half a pace behind someone. is far more important than being a good talker. you hear it. first let that man know you are his friend”. It would now seem that empathy is. It is worth reading some of the comprehensive books that have been written on this subject. Use questions particularly the rhetorical ones.

Whatever you sell. Taking the population as a whole there will be the majority who are clearly not prospects for your offer. there are some who could be and finally a few who have an urgent and immediate need which only you and your offer can fully satisfy. life is not like that (well not often enough) but if salespeople spend all of their time talking to people who do not have a need for the goods and services that they offer. step in the sale. Finding the people with the real need is the problem and the consultative salesperson needs to be good at finding solutions. Unfortunately. MANAGING YOUR SALES PERFORMANCE Consultative sales people and management One of the reasons why many professional salespeople make good managers is that many of the basics of management are learned whilst working as a salesperson. As we have already seen the salesperson learns and works at improving communication skills. Prospecting is therefore the art of finding people who qualify as genuinely having a need for your products and services. Reactions to signals will depend upon the personality of the recipient. By a process of simple RESEARCH the weak prospects are eliminated. DETECTIVE WORK – THE ART OF FINDING NEW CUSTOMERS (PROSPECTING) Prospecting is the first step in a sale. Perhaps you do not seek management but you will want to maximise your personal effectiveness (self management). then all of your subsequent sales skills will be wasted. Prospects are the people to whom you sell:. There are a number of salespeople who take the view that prospecting is the most important. Add time management to that and we have a truly useful foundation for management. Conversely the better your prospect list. Then. if you do not have anyone to sell to. Clearly. not everyone in the population will be a prospect. Salespeople learn about planning and preparation. I was about to ring you. On the other hand if one could really excel at prospecting it is possible to visualise a situation where you only went to see people who would say something like: “I am so glad that you called. Prospecting is the common sales jargon for the process of finding people to whom you can sell.they may be new contacts or they may be customers who buy on a repeat basis. after all there is not usually much direct supervision. . the easier it is to make sales and the more successful you will be.Many of the signals are at the subconscious level and may be overlaid with conscious conflicting signals. They also learn self motivation. Often remuneration will depend upon results. I was just thinking of ordering…………”. they will not do very well. The process of building a dynamic prospect list goes through the stages of first finding SUSPECTS. Leaving a dynamic PROSPECT LIST. There is a strong argument for this view. which sharpens one’s perception of priorities. Finding new customers is more like detective work than selling as it is popularly perceived.

We will discuss this and the other common problem of purchasing decisions being made by committee later in this workbook. THE FIRST STEP IN PROSPECTING The first step is to identify the profile who it is that makes a good prospect for yourself. it is better to start at the top and work down than to start at the bottom and work up. someone not having the authority to buy. people who have no need for your goods or services or people who could not pay for them. that they will pass the information to someone else. This means they can say “No”. is not so easy to detect as it might first appear. Authority implies that the person to whom you are talking has to be able to say “yes”. Remember it by making sure that you sell to the right M. Clearly this is not the most satisfactory situation for the salesperson. When dealing with businesses. Enquiries passed to them by the sales office force them to deal with minions. A good starting point is to focus on your existing customers and consider where you can find more who are similar to them.A. Which stands for MEANS – AUTHORITY – NEED. This is so important that there are salespeople who prefer to make the first high level contact with a target company themselves. Think about and make notes on how you will find prospects for your current business. People who are unlikely to buy are those who do not have the authority to buy. For the moment remember that.How do you find the suspects in the first place? Prospecting Tactics Prospecting means having some mechanisms for qualifying people as unable to buy. For example if you have done well with manufacturing companies “benchmark” pertinent data e. ‘Only sell to the person with authority to buy’. For the moment all I ask you to remember is that the minimum qualification is easily remembered as the mnemonic M.g. what do they manufacture? How big are they? Do they have other group connections? What level are the decisions taken? What are the relevant production processes? Are other suppliers involved? . They start with the Managing Director (or other Director) with the intention of being referred down to the right level.N. only the authority to recommend or veto. They do not have to relate their sales story to anyone but the right M.N. This is not always easy to discover (I will cover some techniques later on). The salesperson receiving an enquiry cannot easily by-pass the junior and yet selling to this person contravenes a basic rule of selling. This junior member of staff does not have the authority to buy. It is quite common for many managers to delegate fact finding on anything in which they are currently interested in to a junior member of staff. Going to the top enables them to get the right person and of course they are totally in control.N.A. unlikely to buy or likely to buy.A. or probably.

The next step is grouping the calls to minimise the journey times. Salespeople who travel far usually group towns or cities and sometimes countries. most professionals use some sort of colour coding. Many companies provide their sales teams with customised record systems so it is likely that you will have to use what is provided. Good sales courses address how to make good use of sales time. Due to difficulty recording the exact length of each year Pope Gregory made it 8. Often this means buying several and sticking them together to make a single map. This will usually depend upon the customer’s location in relation to a motorway. your confidence will be greater and your sales approach much more positive. Time spent on research can save wasting time later on.760 hours each year.784 hours every fourth year. If you know that the prospect really will benefit from your proposal and you know this before you make sales contact. but apart from leap years and theories of what happens at the speed of light. It follows that the objectives for Time Management are not to lengthen the working day as such but to ensure that one gets more from the hours used. Record Keeping One of the basic ‘rules’ of management is that one cannot manage what cannot be measured. We are all limited by 8. If you are going to Italy you may as well fit in as many meetings as you can. GENERAL PLANNING AND PREPARATION . whether we intend to use the available time for work or leisure. Now marking the map with customers that have to be looked after.You must be satisfied that you know what criteria are important enough for you to identify a prospect. This means having to keep records. Then consider where you will find ‘suspect’ addresses and how you can check that these suspects match your prospect qualification criteria. TIME MANAGEMENT Time is precious. PRE-CONTACT WORK There are four key areas to work at prior to calling on prospects: a) b) c) d) Territory Planning Time Management General Planning and Preparation Specific Call Preparation Territory Planning Territory planning starts with buying a map of your territory. time is not capable of expansion.

then in selling you probably do not get the chance to build up credibility. “If I do not achieve my first objective what would be next best?” The next best might be to complete a full presentation and if you do not get this far. It should also be used very early in the interview when meeting the prospect. This is done by the special way in which you introduce yourself. It is well worth the time and trouble that it takes to prepare a good opening statement because it will serve you well. you must first of all sell yourself. An opening statement is essential to ‘sell’ the idea of talking with you. SPECIFIC PLANNING AND PREPARATION At this stage. THAT VITAL FIRST CONTACT The Importance of the Opening Statement Before you can sell anything. credibility stays with you for sometime. The specifics of what you plan before calling are the subject of subsequent chapters. whether calling by appointment or not. then business is unlikely to ensue. Being realistic it may not be possible to get the sale on this visit – so ask yourself. one should plan the objectives for a call. enabling you to get the conversation off to a good start in a number of situations. until you get to the point where your customer does not want to see you as frequently as you need to see him. face to face possibly 30 seconds but not much more. demonstrations. . questions you must ask. The primary objective for the call might be to take an order. handling objections and asking for the business. Opening statements should be used with established customers at the appropriate moment to ‘sell’ each interview with them. prior to ringing for an appointment. The planning principle just covered is that of ‘Retreat Aims’ which means that if you do not get the primary objective them go for the next best. Clearly if you cannot “sell” the idea that you are worth talking to. It can be used when writing a warm up letter. It is a tough competitive world out there and if the prospect has mentally dismissed you. If the first impression that you create is good.You are aware how sensitive people are to first impressions. In this business of selling the difference between being a star or an average performer is not so much great flair but a willingness to pay attention to the details and get them right. Failing to do this will quickly result in your regular meetings being shortened. You will plan your approach. or as part of an email. Over the telephone you have about 15 seconds to create the right impression. making specific proposals. to establish your credibility and get off to an interesting. The next best might be (finally) to leave the door open – to be able to call again. the rest of the interview is spent actually getting rid of you. The opening statement can be used over the telephone. If the first impression is poor. business like start.

therefore. Consider the next step of the sale. the medical consultant has to ask questions before being able to diagnose problems. timing and what is said. and without a ‘by your leave’ straightaway launched into a series of questions. The prospect will normally make a very quick judgement of you based upon your appearance. How do you think you would feel if someone called. Granting an appointment is not in itself a major decision for the prospect. After this you normally have only a few seconds to say something to which the prospect will react favourably. This is the step that does most to remove you from the ranks of the high pressure merchants. It is important to sell the idea of the discussion even when calling by appointment. which at the time may seem of minor importance. In practice this means asking the customer questions. demeanour. The salesperson selling stock items to independent retail shops hardly needs appointments. You may have heard the expression “Telling is not selling”. The survey is the most vital step in your sales plan. A question rather than a statement can sometimes be used but beware of becoming too interrogative too soon. Normally this will be – to establish what the customer needs. There is an approach. The image of the company represented by the sales person. The prospect has been ‘sold’ the idea that it is worth spending a little time with you. thank you”. When making an appointment one goes through the sequence of a sale. it is the process of confirming customer needs or the survey stage of the sale. and of no immediate direct concern to you? It can be seen that the opening statement should focus on how you can either help the prospect move towards their business or personal objectives. the salesperson’s dress. manners. The salesperson selling to other businesses cannot work without them.There are many elements that constitute the right professional impression. Business consultants cannot advise without asking questions. just now. The consultative salesperson sells by asking questions. yet many salespeople do have difficulty in this area. If the approach is wrong then you will find the prospect saying. Questions are far more powerful than any sales . It shows you to be a professional with proper interest in and concern for the customer. In this section the term ‘Consultative Selling’ comes into its own. It is. an essential step in the sale to convince the prospect that it is likely to be worth their while spending a little time in discussion. solve a problem or satisfy a need and then present that thought clearly to the prospect. It is fair to say that the more specialised the sale the harder it is to make appointments. Think about the situation from the prospect’s point of view. CONFIRMING CUSTOMER NEEDS If there is one step in the selling process that is the most important and most differentiates consultative salespeople from the conventional view of selling. Otherwise they will not agree to an appointment. MAKING APPOINTMENTS BY TELEPHONE Making an appointment is in effect a ‘sale’. It is questioning skills that sell. the salesperson’s first approach (usually by telephone) is an interruption. “Not interested. even with an appointment. The prospect is going about his/her business. a building of interest followed by handling some objections and leading finally to a close – getting the appointment.

You will have developed a list of things that you need to know to qualify this prospect. so you will ask about these points. “Would easy contact with your sales people enable you to react faster to enquiries”.statement. The objective of the survey is to establish the customers’ needs and what priority the customer puts on each point so that we might relate our products to satisfying those needs. Questions to check that you are in front of a real prospect (the decision maker). or someone who shows an interest in you and your problems? That essential interest is demonstrated by asking questions. Who would you rather deal with? Someone only concerned with themselves. Questions indicate interest. you move to the confirmation of needs stage by asking if the prospect does not mind confirming a few points. The questions to ask Let us now consider the questions that you should ask. 1. You may now go ahead with your questions WHAT QUESTIONS SHOULD WE ASK? You will have found out something about your prospect. your list of benefits is only a list of likely benefits. exchanged pleasantries and ‘sold’ the interview with your opening gambit. Until the prospective customer confirms that benefits apply to their circumstances. The consultative salesperson deliberately gets the prospect to sell themselves. There are three main areas. “In addition to yourself is anyone else going to be interested in this project?” 2. or something similar. After having introduced yourself. How this is achieved is what we shall now consider. Statements are self-centred.Questions to lead the prospect to discover the benefits that are appropriate to their needs. A preliminary step in this process is to ask ourselves specific questions about this prospect in our precall planning: Why should they buy from us? How will they gain? What are the most appropriate benefits for this prospect? What are the objections this person is likely to raise? Once we have worked out the answers to these questions. then we are able to frame questions that will lead the prospect to discover their needs and how they gain by buying from us. “Would that improve your chances of winning business?” . Some things that you need to know before you can make a sale can only be found out in discussion with the prospect.

Example 1: A preserves salesperson. “So what will happen when I have written out the proposal?” PRESENTING YOUR CASE Now we finally reach the stage where many would consider the sale starts. There will be times when you make a presentation and possibly a demonstration as the mechanism by which you discover the prospect’s needs. or to demonstrate work done for others. The important point is that if you have questioned your prospect and still cannot see benefits from the prospect. asked a number of questions and failed to find benefits for your customer. (Well. made an appointment. Example 2: A warehouse racking sales engineer who will use models to show how various stacking systems operate. How do you present a convincing case? Answer You thank the prospect for their time. Example 3: Many salespeople show short videos of complex processes. for unless you have missed something in your survey of needs. The rule is that you do not make a presentation until the prospective customer’s needs have been established. Now rules are for the guidance of wise men and the blind observance of fools. who will open a jar to let the buyer taste the real fruit flavour. where something is demonstrated on the prospective customer’s premises such as portable telephones or small tools. You will know when these times are and will recognise upon which step of the sale you are working. DEMONSTRATIONS There are two kinds of demonstration. you cannot make the sale. It is a waste of time. You have done a lot of preparatory work.Questions that move the project along. they are not a prospect. Please think about this.3. PROFESSIONAL ATTITUDE TO PRESENTATIONS Your professional attitude enables you to have a more positive relationship with your prospects. the sales presentation. opened the interview well. In consultative selling if the sales consultant cannot see why the prospect should buy. then the consultative salesperson does not attempt to sell. In this category also comes the work by the astute salesperson who tries to involve all the senses of the prospect. ‘leave the door open’ should there be a future requirement and go on to your next appointment. To attempt to sell to someone with no need for your product is what the high pressure cowboys try to do. The smaller ones. . You will be far more successful spending your time working on a better quality prospect. the question was intended as a slight catch question). in which case you need to rethink your strategy and tactics. and you cannot sell to them.

Sometimes you will want to confirm your proposals in writing. These are reasons for not being ready to accept the products or services that you are offering. In such cases use this sequence to outweigh the objection. Whether made verbally or in writing there is a logical format to follow. on the current visit. With a big project the steps of a sale may spread over many months. Let us look at strategies first. at the very beginning – when the prospect might not even agree to see you. For example the customer objects to the size of your product. selling capital equipment or complex solutions is not usually possible to get the order on one visit. There are four strategies that you might consider: 1. These major demonstrations may take place at a number of different places. probably require the prospect to visit another town or even another country. such as a machine tool demonstration. the consultative salesperson requires a strategy. “put in writing” as an end to the interview. Outweigh the objection This is the strategy to use for objections which are perfectly valid. such as. Objections may arise at any stage of the sale. the prospect may turn down your offer. If it is re-introduced into the conversation it is more easily dealt with. COUNTER OBJECTION STRATEGIES To succeed in refuting or countering customer objection. It is a fact and there is probably nothing you can do to physically change the size. 2. The prospect may not think of them as objections. In many sales situations. A request to “Put it in writing” does not cost the buyer anything but it is going to take you time and cost you money to comply with their request.Many demonstrations. Many buyers use this device as an easy way to get rid of salespeople. they are often simply questions which the prospective customer needs to have clarified before reaching a decision. MAKING YOUR PROPOSAL Always try to obtain a decision. HOW TO ANSWER THE CUSTOMER’S QUESTIONS In every sale. at least to the next step in the sale. some techniques and tactics. Be careful not to accept a request to. at the end – and after you have made your presentation. the prospect is likely to raise objections. Example . Pre-empt the objection This means that you anticipate that the prospect is likely to raise this subject as an objection and you deal with it before it is raised.

Purchaser: “Acquiring your model PX2000 is out of the question for us. Answer the objection This will be your most common strategic response to an objection. I suggest that you develop the habit of pausing or restating the objection before you respond. If you telephone for an appointment and the prospect says they are too busy to see you. They may not even know at the time how to react to your offer and just cites the first excuse that comes to mind e. I should have explained… and then deliver your well thought out and rehearsed answer. Salesperson: “At first glance it does seem like a lot to ask. that is too strong but some phrase such as: “Thanks for asking that. One of the main weapons in your objection handling armoury will be a good answer for every objection that you are likely to bear. Sometimes you can do just that – not respond at all but carry on.Buyer: “I am not going to pay that much money”. as they are false objections you will not get anywhere with logical argument. The majority of objections from prospects are questions. You could treat a simple price objection as a misunderstanding. 4. Ignore the objection There will be times when you know the prospect is giving you a false objection. Let us look at my suggestions and see what they mean to you”. g. I do not mean apologising. When the prospect says “Send something in the post”. there is a more than evens chance that what they really mean is go away and do not bother me. Sometimes the real reasons for refusal are embarrassing for the customer and they search for excuses. the chances are that they mean that you have failed to interest them. The value must add up to substantially more than the cost. You may also find that deliberately ‘taking the blame’ helps. On other occasions apply the strategy of ignoring using a little more subtlety. for financial reasons”. the consultative salesperson have not fully briefed the prospect on what value for money they are getting. It may be that there is a ‘hot button’ in your list. This is where we separate the real professionals from the well intentioned. To try and deal with these false objections is quite pointless. As you move towards this level of competence your confidence grows and you will need to guard against the danger of responding too quickly to an objection. The best strategy is to ignore them. The salesperson now has to go through each benefit for the customer preferably expressed in value terms. Your attitude is that you. 3. and you are right to be concerned that you get value for money. It is your fault that they do not understand so you ‘take the blame’ for not explaining. . because at the time of asking they do not perceive the whole picture.

for example. Often a competitor will have motivated a prospect. therefore. A salesperson who takes the false objection at face value may. you must take it for granted that your prospect will buy from you. This goes against all the consultative selling principles that have been covered. If you do not believe this. PREPARING TO CLOSE Right from the start. If all the steps of the sale have been carried out fully and professionally. we see the importance of the right mental attitude. the culmination of all your work. To keep closing using just one technique is likely to seem to be pushing for the business. By trying to give a logical answer to the objection they are inevitably leading the conversation up a blind alley. This final step of the sale is. The salesperson’s attitude must be positive and. another alternative may soon be attempted. Experience will sharpen your perception as to which strategy works best in varying circumstances. Test the objection by asking questions. once again. There is no one magical moment to close . Let’s just leave this well alone”. Then when a close is attempted and fails. but failed to close. It is the logical outcome of your sales presentation. DECISION SIGNALS Sometimes the buyer is ahead of the salesperson and is ready to purchase before the presentation is completed. the consultative salesperson will have to try again. Where to concede Only experience will enable you to properly identify the types of objection which may be glossed over or agreed before being virtually ignored. Everything you have worked for up to this point has been to enable you to take an order. . For these reasons consultative salespeople should have several closing techniques ready to use. try to close.any time may become the right time. Be alert to such opportunities. If you believe the prospect should buy there is a good chance that they will. expand on their firm’s favourable terms of payment. It is important to give yourself the best possible chance to secure the business. The problem is that if a close is attempted and it does not work. you will have built up a willingness to purchase.What the purchasing manager really means is: “Then we will have to restrain staff. CLOSING THE SALE Closing a sale means getting the prospect’s decision to buy. your body language will signal your hesitation and the prospect will probably want “To take some time to think it over”. Clarify all objections before you reply. and the shop manager will be afraid of losing production. The workers will resist that. If you think you detect a buying signal. Decision signals can be verbal or physical (body language).

TRIAL CLOSES As a consultative salesperson you will become alert to any comment or question from the prospect which indicates serious consideration of your proposal. “They will tell me when they are ready to order”. Customers expect the salesperson to ask for the order. . Customers are not concerned about the salesperson’s hang-ups. This is not true. They may offer verbal agreement by repeating or reinforcing your statements.The buyer may say something which shows that they are thinking about what it would be like to own the product or they may ask you to repeat details which you have already made clear – just to reassure themselves. This can be the time to use a trial close in an attempt to close the sale. They will then try to justify their failure to close by saying things like. Asking for the order is the final proof that you have the confidence in your product or service. your prospect may interpret your hesitation as lack of honesty or sincerity. treating it as though it was already owned. Salespeople have to take a lot of rejection and any psychologist will tell you that people try to distance themselves from that which causes pain. continue with your presentation and wait for the next signal. WHY SALESPEOPLE HESITATE TO CLOSE The truthful answer is fear. If you make no attempt to close the sale. Buyers expect you to ask for the order. If the attempt is not successful. The result is that they hesitate to ask for the order in case the prospect says “No”. The physical signals may be facial expressions which imply approval or handling the product. Be aware of all the signals being made around you. they interpret the hesitation as a lack of conviction.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful