How To Be A Great Sales Professional: Sell Your Products, Serve Your Customers, Succeed In A Competitive World by Nido Qubein
No doubt, a pivotal aspect of business success is the ability to sell more of your products. More sales bring in more money, which is the life-blood that keeps your business alife. Nido Qubeinâ€™s book: How To Be A Great Sales Professional: Sell Your Products, Serve Your Customers, Succeed In A Competitive World will help you achieve great sales of your products and stay on top of your competition.
Become A Consultant To Your Customers
Dale Carnegie once called Frank Bettger the best salesperson heâ€™d ever met. Carnegie said Bettger could sell almost anything to almost anybody.
And what was Bettgerâ€™s secret of success in selling?
Let Bettger himself tell you:
â€œThe one biggest secret of selling anything is: Try to find out what people want, and then help them get it.â€
Thatâ€™s a powerful insight. Itâ€™s also a valuable specimen of selling savvy.
How To Help People Get What They Want
In this chapter, weâ€™ll explore ways to apply that bit of savvy toward making you a very successful salesperson, while you help people get what they want.
Most salespeople approach selling from the opposite position: They decide what they want to sell, then they try to talk people into buying it. Thatâ€™s almost guaranteed to create sales resistance. It puts the ball in the prospectâ€™s court. It tells prospects, in effect, â€œHereâ€™s why I think you ought to buy this product. Now tell me why you shouldnâ€™t.â€
And since youâ€™re asking your prospects to transfer money from their hands to yours, theyâ€™re usually pretty good at thinking of reasons for not doing it. But if your prospects perceive that youâ€™re holding something they want, theyâ€™ll look for reasons to move what they want out of your hands and into theirs.
Youâ€™re Not Selling Products and Services
The problem is that most salespeople believe that their customers want to buy the products and services they are selling. They think customers want to buy automobiles, insurance, clothing, or some other item.
You acquire selling savvy when you acquire this insight: Your prospects donâ€™t want the products or services youâ€™re selling. They want the things those products or services can do for them.
Many salespeople argue over whether itâ€™s easier to sell tangibles or intangibles. But the salesperson with sales savvy and business acumen knows that we are all selling intangibles.
People Donâ€™t Just Buy Suits
Think about the way you approach buying a new suit. Certainly, you are looking for clothing, but if thatâ€™s all youâ€™re buying you can get by with a loincloth or a burlap bag with armholes.
But youâ€™re looking for more than basic covering. Your real buying decision will be made on factors such as how a suit makes you look, hot it makes you feel about yourself, and how it fits your lifestyle and personality.
Those are all very intangible factors. They have to do with your perceptions, your needs, your feelings, and your values. The fact is that youâ€™re not simply buying a suit of clothes; youâ€™re buying what that suit will do for you.
And hereâ€™s where selling savvy really comes into play. You might know exactly what you want your new suit to do for you. But if the person trying to sell you a suit doesnâ€™t understand what you want and doesnâ€™t show you what you want, you wonâ€™t buy â€“ no matter what the salesperson says or does.
On the other hand, you might not know clearly what you want a suit to do for you, or what kind of suit will produce the results you desire. The salespersonâ€™s challenge then becomes to help you understand what you want and how to get it.
An amateur might try to sell you by lowering the price, by trying to convince you that your expectations are wrong, or even by trying to manipulate you into buying a suit you donâ€™t like.
But the professional â€“ the salesperson with savvy â€“ knows that all those tactics are a waste of time.
Think of Yourself as a Consultant
If you want to be successful in sales, you have to think of yourself as a consultant for your customer. Consultants are people who carefully study their prospectsâ€™ needs, concerns, and desires, then show them how to get what they want.
Consultants focus first on solving the clientâ€™s most pressing problem or fulfilling the clientâ€™s greatest desire. But to become a true consultant, you have to go beyond making the first sale.
Real professionals understand a very important principle of selling savvy: Satisfied clients make the best prospects for future sales.
Therefore, selling professionals target all their efforts at establishing long-term relationships with their customers. They think of them as clients. They see themselves not only as providers of quality goods and services, but also as invaluable resources of information and expert counsel.
Professionals perceive themselves as experts who can offer valuable insights and solutions to their customersâ€™ problems. And they work hard to instill in their prospects that same perception.
Developing this kind of solid relationship with a customer offers substantial rewards.
A $50 Million Relationship
One of the most dramatic illustrations of how this works is a decision Lee Iacocca made when he moved to the Chrysler Corporation.
When he took control of the company, one of his first moves was to dismiss the two advertising agencies that were handling the Chrysler account.
He replaced them with the agency he had worked with so successfully at Ford.
As Iacocca put it, he didnâ€™t have enough time to acclimate Chryslerâ€™s agencies to his way of thinking. It was much simpler for him to bring along an agency he had worked with before. It was a $50 million decision that resulted in the largest single transfer of an advertising account ever recorded.
That agency had become much more to Iacocca than just another advertising company. To Iacocca, that agency was an indispensable ally â€“ a valuable consulting resource.
The salesperson with selling savvy understands the value of such a relationship with a customer and strives to maintain that relationship.
The Secret Lies In Positioning
But how do you establish such a relationship? How do you turn prospects and customers into loyal clients?
Think back to our discussion of positioning in Chapter two. Positioning is the key to establishing a solid relationship with customers.
Professional salespeople position themselves as expert advisers to their prospects. They prove by their actions that they are trying not just to sell to their prospects but also to help them get what they want.
Positioning yourself as your customersâ€™ consultant enables you to establish and maintain secure, long-term relationships with them. Itâ€™s the best way to build the kind of solid client base and repeat business that can provide security and steady growth â€“ for you and your company.
Letâ€™s explore two of the central elements of building permanent â€“ and profitable â€“ consulting relationships with your clients.
The First Element: Become An Expert
If you want to earn the respect and confidence of your prospects, you have to position yourself as an expert. An expert is defined as â€œa person who is very skillful or highly trained and informed in some special field.â€
Translated to the sales field, experts are competent professionals who are knowledgeable about selling, about their companies and their products, about their industries, about their competition, and about each of their clients.
How do you achieve this level of professionalism? Here are six pointers:
(1) Become an expert in your field
Professionals donâ€™t just act as if theyâ€™re experts; they are experts; they are experts. They make it their business to know everything there is to know about their business.
If you want your customers to see you as an expert, you must be an expert salesperson.
To become a consulting salesperson, you have to become so familiar with the selling process that you can concentrate totally on planning, strategizing, and developing other areas of expertise.
Think about your knowledge of the selling basics next time you watch Olympic ice skaters perform on television. They perform the most difficult of movements with such style and grace that they make it look easy.
Their movements are elegance in motion. When they make a mistake or their routine is interrupted, they pick right up and keep going.
That kind of excellence comes only from practice. They have drilled and drilled until they have mastered the fundamentals so thoroughly that they donâ€™t even have to think about them.
So when the spotlight is on them, they are free to concentrate on expression, on timing, and on communicating with their audiences.
The sales professional has the same kind of command over the basics of selling. The essentials are so ingrained that the professional performs without thinking about them.
(2) Become an expert on your company
If you want to become your customerâ€™s consultant, you must become an expert on your company.
As a salesperson, you may be the only representative of your company that your customers ever see. When customers see you, theyâ€™re looking at your company, as far as theyâ€™re concerned. If they like you, theyâ€™ll like the company. If they distrust you, theyâ€™ll distrust the company.
Trust is a vital part of any relationship. Competent professionals know how to build their customersâ€™ confidence in their companies.
Major corporations spend millions of dollars advertising their brand names. They realize that people buy from companies they know and trust.
The more you know about your company, the more youâ€™re able to give information that will inspire confidence in new prospects and keep your regular customers loyal.
(3) Become an expert on what you sell.
Knowing as much as possible about the products and services you sell is the third vital area in which the consulting salesperson must have some expertise.
When customers ask, â€œHow many units can it produce per minute?,â€ â€œHow much floor space will it take up?,â€ or â€œHow soon can you ship it?,â€ they want information, not sales puff.
One of the most common complaints consumers and professional buyers make is that they canâ€™t get straight answers to the simple questions they ask salespeople.
The main reason they donâ€™t get straight answers is that the salespeople donâ€™t know enough about their products or services to provide the answers.
We owe it to our customers to have the information to provide quick and concise answers to at least 99% of the questions they might ask.
In fact, what you know about your complete product line and all of the services your company offers is one of the best measures of your professionalism as a salesperson.
Professionals are inquisitive. They ask questions and are always eager to learn. They know that knowledge is like money in the bank: it pays to have it, and it pays to use it.
Some salespeople like to dance around the questions with fancy footwork. If they donâ€™t know the answers, they fake them. If theyâ€™re dealing with knowledgeable business people, theyâ€™ll find themselves on the canvas quickly. Todayâ€™s customers are informed, and they donâ€™t waste time or money on people who play fast and loose with the facts. When you donâ€™t know the answer to a question, youâ€™ll earn respect by simply saying, â€œI donâ€™t know, but Iâ€™ll find out and let you know right away.â€ Todayâ€™s customers are informed, and they appreciate integrity when they see it.
(4) Become an expert on your industry
Professionals are constantly reviewing these questions:
â€¢ Who buys the products or services my company sells, and why do they buy them?
â€¢ How do these products contribute to the lives and businesses of the customers who buy them?
â€¢ How are these services and products used?
â€¢ What trends have affected the industry in recent years, and what trends are emerging that could affect customers in the future?
Itâ€™s only when you know the answers to these and other vital questions that you can position yourself as a valuable resource for your clients. Savvy begins with knowledge. And knowledge begins with a dedication to learning.
(5) Become an expert on your competition
If you want to position yourself as an expert consultant, know your competition. The more you know about your competitors, the greater your ability to sell against them.
So, ask yourself:
â€¢ Who are my competitors?
â€¢ What do they sell?
â€¢ How are their products inferior to ours?
â€¢ How are their products superior to ours?
â€¢ How do they sell?
â€¢ To whom do they sell?
â€¢ What do they tell my customers?
â€¢ What gaps are there in their product lines?
Some of your competitors are well-trained professionals, and many of them know more about you than you imagine.
Professional salespeople donâ€™t lie awake at night worrying about whatâ€™s happening in their industries or what their competitors are doing. They just stay alert and observe everything that happens around them. They keep an eye on the competition.
They read trade journals, ask questions of their customers and people within their company, and study ads and sales literature from all the companies that serve their industry.
The more knowledge you have about your competition, the more likely your customers will be to respect you as a consultant, as a value-driven salesperson, and as a problem solver.
(6) Become an expert on your customers
Most important of all, you must become an expert on your customers.
To understand what your customer wants and needs, you have to know your customer the way your family doctor knows you.
You take it for granted that your doctor understands the human anatomy and how the organs work. Thatâ€™s basic stuff.
But youâ€™re not just a generic specimen of the human race. Youâ€™re you – a unique individual with your own physical and emotional makeup; your own pattern of aches and pains; maybe your own set of allergies.
You want your doctor to prescribe medicine thatâ€™s appropriate for you and not for some generalized average citizen coming in off the street. If your doctor doesnâ€™t understand your unique symptoms and physical makeup, you may go home with some drug that will set off an allergic reaction or aggravate the condition it was intended to treat.
In the same way, sales professionals research each potential customer to discover the prospectâ€™s unique business or personal needs.
They draw out customers with questions. They observe everything their customers do and listen to everything they say.
A man named Louis Holden got the first donation Andrew Carnegie ever made to a school. In exactly four minutes, Dr. Holden collected $100,000 from a man who opened the interview by saying, â€œI donâ€™t believe in giving money to colleges.â€
How did he turn it around? As a consultant, he had done his homework on Andrew Carnegie. Once he understood Carnegieâ€™s deep desire to help young people get started in life, he was able to show his client how he could fulfill that desire by making a large donation to a college.
Knowing what motivates a prospect is probably the most powerful piece of information a salesperson can have. Professionals learn all they can about their prospects; then they use that information to influence them to buy.
To position yourself as an expert â€“ as your customersâ€™ consultant â€“ you have to become an expert. Expertise requires depth of knowledge and understanding, and thatâ€™s something you canâ€™t fake. Customers can sense it when you know what youâ€™re talking about, and they recognize it quickly when youâ€™re talking over your head.
Become an expert requires dedication and effort. But until youâ€™ve become one, youâ€™re minus the first key element in building a consulting relationship with your customer, and youâ€™re somewhere short of being the successful salesperson that you can be.
This is a great book by all standard, and I very much gladly recommend it to you.
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