Ive told my sales representative that she talks too much on her sales calls. But she responds with the following question: How will our prospects know what we can do for them if I dont tell them? Am I right or wrong?
Youre right. A prospect who is listening isnt a prospect. Most sales reps talk far too much on a sales call. My rule of thumb is that the prospect should be talking 70 percent of the time and the sales rep 30 percent. And most of his or her talking should be in the form of questions.
The biggest compliment your reps can pay to prospects is to really listen to what they have to say. Moreover, it helps the reps to understand their true buying motives and shape their product or service to meet their prospects needs.
Your sales reps worth is determined by the information they uncover in a sales call, not the information they give. Their credibility is determined more by the questions they ask than by their answers. You cant tell prospects anything without getting them defensive.
The sales reps job is to ask questions that will help prospects discover for themselves why they need what your company has to offer.
We have a lot of sales reps who seem to have great people skills, but they arent closers. How do I change this?
If there is one universal truth in sales, it is this: Time kills deals. The longer it takes to close a sale, the greater the likelihood that something will get in the way to prevent that deal from ever closing. Therefore, you absolutely have to reduce the selling cycle.
You evidently have two parts to your problem. When it comes to closing, youve got the technical side, which is how do you do it, and the conceptual side, which relates to why people still wont do it even when they know what to do.
On the conceptual side, I have found that only decision makers can get other people to make decisions. People who have trouble making decisions themselves will empathize with the prospect who wants to think it over. In the end, they often lose the deal.
To change this, youre going to have to change the way your sales reps make their own personal buying decisions so that they dont inhibit their ability to close sales in a business context. They also need to become comfortable hearing no.
On the technical side, you need to change your strategy for reaching mutual agreements with your prospects. The old tactical closes like the assumptive or Ben Franklin closes no longer work. People dont want to be sold. The minute a sales person attempts to close a sale, the prospect begins to feel controlled and manipulated, causing him or her to resist.
The secret to effective closing is to establish clear, up-front, mutual agreements at various checkpoints in the sales process where a determination is made to either proceed or stop. Immediately prior to submitting the proposal or making a presentation to the prospect, the prospect must agree to make a decision of yes or no when the presentation is concluded.
Both parties to the transaction agree in advance that the prospect will make a decision. As a result, there are no surprises and, by knowing in advance that its okay to say no, no pressure.
Larry Lewis is president of Total Development Inc., a Pittsburgh-based consulting firm specializing in sales development and training. Send comments and questions via fax at (724) 933-9224 or e-mail him at LTLewis@totaldevelopment.com. Reach him by phone at (724) 933-9110.