If you are like me you have probably read numerous books on selling strategies or attended one or more sales training programs and felt a little overwhelmed. For a lot of reasons that defy logic most of the available sales systems have been made far more complex than necessary. Over my 30 years as a commission-only salesperson, I have amassed a fairly large collection of books on selling in search of the secret to greater sales success. One book has six sections containing 21 chapters covering 431 pages of small text. Another book contains four sections covering almost 300 pages of text. Books such as these along with multi-day sales training programs lead me to ask this question: “is sales really this complicated?” After 30 years I can say with absolute confidence that the answer is a resounding “NO”.
At the end of the day sales success boils down to just three things:
1. Message: Have a compelling message
2. Audience: Share that message with a lot of people
3. Proof: Provide proof to back up your claims
Sales success is really not that complicated when you get right down to it. The reason that you are not experiencing the level of success that you want is simply that you are weak in one or more of these three areas.
Two of the most frequent questions that I get are: “what about using questions to advance the sale?” and “what about overcoming objections?” As for overcoming objections, my response is that you cannot and should not attempt to overcome objections. The whole idea of overcoming objections is a myth. I am not saying that you cannot overcome an objection but that in today’s marketplace the cost of overcoming objections is too high to be worthwhile. If you look at your last 100 sales I can guarantee that you did nothing to overcome an objection in 98 of those sales. When you attempt to overcome an objection you create an adversarial relationship that results in alienating the prospect rather than advancing the relationship. In the 21st century advancing the relationship is far more important than attempting to overcome the objection.
As for the use of great questions, my response is this: artful use of questions can definitely result in closing more sales opportunities. But the key is the “artful” use of questions and that takes a lot of practice. Unfortunately, most salespeople will not put the time into becoming skillful in using questions during the sales process. That said if you have a compelling sales message and share it with a large number of qualified prospects you will secure a lot of opportunities to present. If you can then provide proof of your value prior to the first meeting you will close a lot of those opportunities regardless of your skill in using questions.
By now you are probably which of the three components is most important. Quite frankly I would tell you that you have to share your message with a lot of quality prospects. If the only thing that you did was talk to 100 people every day sharing a simple message of: “I sell ‘X’ and would like to tell you about it” you would get several opportunities to present every day. With zero closing skills, you would make sales if only by accident. Early in my career selling life insurance, I read the following:
“Show me a telecom specialist that will go belly to belly with ten people every day and tell his story and I will show you a telecom specialist that cannot fail!”
I have no idea who wrote that but it made a huge impact on my career. From that day onward I knew that I had to focus on telling my story to as many quality prospects as possible.
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