Assumptive Selling

If you aren’t already familiar with the term “assumptive selling,” make a quick study of it. It will change how you think about every sales call. With assumptive selling, you assume that every qualified buyer will own the benefits of your product. You are certain of it. You know in your heart that it’s your obligation to help them to see how much better their lives, or companies will be once they’re “happily involved with” your offering. That mindset could drastically alter your attitude, which would help you then focus all of your thoughts and efforts on that single goal.

Note that the key to success with assumptive selling is that your buyer is truly qualified. That means several things:

  • They have a need and/or want to satisfy.
  • Their needs and requirements match up quite nicely with the benefits and services you provide.
  • The person or people you are speaking with are truly qualified to make the buying decision.
  • And they have access to the funds required. [Read more…]

Four Social Media Tips

I don’t profess to  be an expert in social media. I do profess to be an expert on the subject of selling. That being said, let me give you four social media tips for sales pros.

Tom HopkinsTip #1 – Complete Your Profile
Complete your profile before trying to connect with people. I see this most often on LinkedIn. I receive literally hundreds of requests to connect with people on LinkedIn every month. I view LinkedIn as a tool…not a race to see how many connections I can make. I want to know who these people are.

  • If you haven’t yet uploaded a photo of yourself or your product, you’re not ready to use LinkedIn as the valuable tool it is. If you don’t like any of your photos, have a professional take one. It’s 100% worth it.
  • If you have not included at the very least your job title, your industry and your company name, you’re only toying with this incredible resource.

If I cannot determine from your profile whether or not we have something in common that’s related to business, I will not accept the connection. And you should treat LinkedIn the same way.

Tip #2 – Be prepared to work.
Somewhere along the line a lot of people got the idea that because postings appear instantaneously, that it’s a shortcut to success. There are no shortcuts to success. Selling always has been and always will be a process of building relationships.

Social media is an excellent tool for building relationships but the basic principles of selling still apply. You must prospect, connect, establish rapport, and qualify before you can earn the right to present any type of offer.

Tip #3 – Schedule social media time wisely.
In reading a comment in one of your groups on Facebook or LinkedIn, you read a great comment by Bob Smith. You let Bob know how much you appreciate what he said. Someone else comments on your comment. Another chimes in with a link that takes you away from the conversation and off onto another topic. Eventually, you come back to trying to connect with Bob outside of this conversation. When you view his profile, you note that he’s connected with someone else you might want to connect with…and it goes on and on. Next thing you know, it’s 11AM and you have not yet invested any part of your day in your real job–interacting directly with people who are in a position to own your product or service.

How much time is reasonable for you to commit to social media? What time of day is best for you to do it? Not your best selling time. Figure that out. Schedule it. Set a timer if you must, but STOP when it’s time to move on to another productive activity.

Tip #4 – Offer assistance before attempting to sell.
You wouldn’t walk up to a stranger and say, “Read my book!” “Subscribe to my blog!” or “Buy my product!” (Well, some people might act that way, but not sales pros, right Champions?) So don’t do it in social media. Engage people first. Offer to be of assistance. Ask questions about their challenges, their needs. Then, only after a comfortable dialog has been established have you earned the right to even mention the possibility of providing service.

Social media is today’s hot tool  for communication. And, it can be quite fun and productive–when you use it like a tool. The frenzy around it is not very different from new innovations in selling in the past–the f ax machine, overnight delivery, computers, mobile phones, laptops, e-mail, tablets and so on. Those are all tools of the trade that have moved business communications forward. They have accelerated the speed with which we can gain new knowledge and communicate with others. They have not replaced the communication process that is essential to the sales process.

As with any new tool, there are best practices for maximizing the effectiveness of social media. Invest the time to understand it. Use it wisely. And, you’ll gain the incredible benefits it can bring to your career.

Copyright Tom Hopkins International, Inc.

When an Objection isn’t an Objection – Guest Post

mikebrooks_speaker2When an Objection isn’t an Objection – Guest Post by Mike Brooks, aka Mr. Inside Sales

When is an objection NOT an objection? When it comes at the beginning of your presentation.

The blow offs you get at this stage are merely initial resistance, and the last thing you want to do is try to overcome them. Instead, you must acknowledge you heard them and direct your prospect to get your proposal, quote or other material so you can engage with them and deliver your presentation.

This is easy to do if you have the right scripts and techniques to accomplish this.

Here are some sample scripts to deal with the initial resistance you get when closing:

Initial resistance #1:
“I looked it over and I’m/we’re not interested.”

Response #2:
“I didn’t expect you to be interested; our marketing department hasn’t yet figured out a way to get our prospects to call us back – and that’s why they hired me! But seriously, this (product/service) has some great features that aren’t readily available in the (demo/material/information) I sent you, and it’ll only take a couple of minutes to find out if they would be a fit and benefit you. Tell you what, do yourself a favor and spend a few minutes with me to find out how and if this would be right for you. Grab the information/quote/brochure and let me cover a few things – do you have it handy?

Initial resistance #2:
“I don’t have the time right now.”

Response #1:
“That’s fine ________, we’ll schedule a better time to go over this. Quick question, though: when we do get back together on this, what are some of the areas I should be prepared to go over with you?”

Initial resistance #3:
“It’s not for us/me.”

Response #2:
“It may appear that way now ________, and you may not have enough information nor understand it well enough to be interested. In fact, most people I call back feel the same way you do – they think this is (Quickly list one or two perceived negative points), so I don’t blame you for not being interested. I wouldn’t be either if that was true. But ________, that isn’t how this (product/service) works. To begin with (list two or three benefits that contradict the first couple of negatives you just gave). These are just some of the things you need to be aware of before you make any decision. Do yourself a favor and get that (quote/demo/email/brochure) and I’ll show you how this might work for you, too. I’ll be happy to hold on while you grab it.”

Initial resistance #4:
“We looked at your material and this just isn’t for us right now.”

Response #2:
“No problem ________. Tell you what let’s do – because things change, and while this is fresh in your mind, let’s take a few minutes now to match up how this can help you when the timing is better for you. Is that (brochure, quote, demo) handy, or do I need to hold on while you grab it?”

Initial resistance #5:
“We already have a supplier or dealer or service person.”

Response #1:
“I know and we spoke about that earlier. Remember, I’m not calling to have you replace your current supplier/company, rather, you were looking at this to see how you might improve the results of what you’re currently getting. Tell you what, do me a favor and grab the (demo, information) and let me show you how, if you decide to branch out in the future, this might help you (fill their expressed need from your first call). I’ll be happy to hold on while you grab it.”

Do you see how this works? Again, do not try to overcome the initial resistance you get when closing, instead, be prepared for it and earn the right to present your product or service!

Would you like 16 more word for word scripts targeted to overcome initial resistance when closing? And, would you like over 200 other scripts and techniques to help you overcome resistance, build rapport with decision makers and close more sales over the phone? Then Click Here and get a copy of Mike’s completely Updated and Revised for 2014 ebook, “The Complete Book of Phone Scripts!” You’ll be glad you did!

Decision-Making in Sales

Puzzle PeopleDecision-making in sales situations is not drastically unlike making decisions in life in general. Before you can help a potential client make a decision about owning your product or service, you must have certain knowledge. That knowledge will give you power in the selling situation because knowledge is power but only when properly applied.

So, what knowledge is it that you need?

  1. You need knowledge about your product or service. How strong is your product knowledge? Can you answer any question that pops up during a client contact? Granted 80% of your clients will likely ask you the same questions about your product but what about that other 20%? Don’t you want to serve their needs as well? Get your product knowledge down. Never wing it with answers about your product or service.
  2. You need knowledge of your current inventory. You never know when a chance encounter will find you facing someone with a desire and the means to purchase multiple quantities of your product. How embarrassing would it be to make the sale, then have to tell them your product is on back order or that you don’t have enough in stock to fulfill their entire order?
  3. If your product is one that requires some folks to finance it over time, what type of financing is available? How many ways do you know of for them to afford and own your product today?
  4. Do you know if this person you’re investing your valuable time with is qualified to own your product? If not, here’s how to ask about it, in a polite, and non-threatening way: “John, who other than yourself might be involved in making a final decision?” “Mary, what’s the procedure for making purchasing decisions?”
  5. Is this person ready, able and willing to make a decision today? Too many salespeople waste time presenting to people who have no intention of owning their products or at the very least no intention of owning today. They are just “researching” the product or “interested” in it. Consider working this question into your conversation, “If this product is right for your needs, how soon do you expect to make a buying decision?”  Or, “How urgent is your need to get this product on your shelves?” Get the answer to this question early in your client meetings and you’ll have the knowledge you need to maximize your efforts with them.

If you don’t have this knowledge, you don’t have what’s necessary to close a sale. This knowledge will indicate to you how to work with each and every potential client.

Copyright Tom Hopkins International, Inc.

Wiping the Slate Clean in Sales

clean slateAs part of the sales process, you might need to resort to a strategy of wiping the slate clean with your potential clients. Much of the decision process is based on past buying experiences. If your buyer made a purchase of a product similar to yours and was unhappy with it you face a double-edged sword. On one side, they are unhappy with your competitor’s product which makes them a pretty good candidate for yours. On the other side, their bad past experience may make them hesitant to even try your type of product again. [Read more…]

Auto Sales – It’s not what you say

How you say itIt’s not what you say in auto sales, but how you say it that counts, right? I’m certain you’ve heard that cliché hundreds of times.

In business, what you say is just as important as how you say it. In selling vehicles, you must learn to paint mental pictures in the minds of your potential clients. Those pictures show them being, happier, having more fun, less stressed, being sexier, safer, better looking, economically- or environmentally-minded, or well-to-do because of their ownership of one of your vehicles. You must strike each person’s buying nerve in a positive way by paying attention to the pictures your words are creating.

While most of what you say is specific to the particular vehicles you represent, there are many words that are commonly used in selling situations that you need to pay attention to. Some bring about positive images. Others don’t.

Here are a few to get you started on the road to more closed sales. [Read more…]

The 30-second Elevator Presentation

Elevator

Prepare an Elevator Presentation, Not an Elevator Pitch

A short while ago, I ran a contest on Facebook for the best Elevator Presentation. In more common terms, it’s often call “the elevator pitch,” but those of you who are already familiar with my training, know that “pitch” is one of the nasty words I teach sales pros to never say.

The idea behind the Elevator Presentation is that you should be able to describe what you do for a living in a clear and concise manner. Usually the drill for this starts with “Let’s say you step into an elevator with one other person and will be traveling 10 or more stories together. Since you’re in sales, you are always on the lookout for new leads. What would you say to this person to build their curiosity and earn the right to contact them after the elevator ride is over?”

We had dozens of entries to the contest. Many were very good. Some made me realize that I need to teach this concept in greater depth. All were interesting to read and analyze.

The first key to a successful elevator presentation is to be able to give the other person a mental picture of the benefits you provide. This means you use great descriptive words. What you don’t do is say, “I’m a real estate agent.” “I sell insurance.” “I do taxes.” Saying those things allows the listener to mentally picture whatever their pre-conceived notion is about those fields of endeavor. You want to engage them, not turn them off.

Many of the contest submissions began with “I help people…” or “I help companies…” which can be a good start. Think about how you would finish that sentence for the industry or product you represent.

Another key element in a good elevator presentation is to end it with a question. It could be as simple as “Isn’t that great?” which is a request for agreement from the other party. Or, it could be an involvement question related to one of your benefits such as, “How would something like that impact your business?”

To give you some real-life examples, I’ll post the three winning presentations here along with my comments.

3rd Place Winner – Claudio Ingleton, Century 21 King Realtor®

“I help homeowners professionally market and sell their homes. I also help first time buyers invest in the ownership of a home.  We have an exciting way to ensure people get what they want in the time that they want. Isn’t that great?!”

Note that Claudio does not start the conversation with “I’m in real estate.” Remember the purpose of the 30-second elevator presentation is to explain benefits and build curiosity. Ending his description with a question encourages the listener to respond and engage.

2nd Place Winner – Steve Cohen

“I help companies generate more income by getting them found online and make sure they have the right marketing message so their phone rings and people walk in the door.”

The benefit of generating more income will almost always be of interest to anyone in business. Online marketing is a very hot topic these days with most businesses. Most people in business after hearing this statement will say, “How do you do that?” That opens the door for Steve to either continue the discussion or get permission to contact them after the elevator ride is over. Remember, you aren’t trying to sell your product in 30 seconds. You are selling yourself just enough to capture a new lead.

1st Place Winner – Eddie Allen

“For nearly a decade, as an independent broker, I have specialized in identifying and providing solutions, by utilizing an efficient consultation and an effective educational approach with successful measures. My quality services are designed to help people with their personal, business, and financial goals, in regard to their risk management, retirement planning, and wealth preservation needs, by making available economical, value-added, timely protection options. Is protecting the people you love, along with your future,and the things you value the most, important to you?”

Even though this entry is a little longer than the others, Eddie has built in credibility by mentioning his longevity in the field and that he specializes (great word). The adjectives used help build positive mental pictures in the mind of the listeners. And, Eddie ends with a question that’s difficult to say “no” to. Few people will ever say that protecting the people they love is NOT important. Once they agree with him, Eddie has earned the right to ask for their contact information and the opportunity to serve their needs.

Invest 10 to 20 minutes as soon as possible to write your own elevator presentation. It will help you be prepared the next time you have a brief encounter with someone who might either need your service or know others who do.

Copyright Tom Hopkins International, Inc. For reprint permission, contact Judy Slack (judys@tomhopkins.com).

Closing the Sale Doesn’t Have to Create Conflict by Weldon Long

Zig Ziglar once wrote that if you can’t close, you are just a brilliant conversationalist. I would add to that if you can’t close, you are just an unpaid consultant.

Closing does not have to include conflict, stress or beating your prospect into submission. If you have extended yourself emotionally and professionally to your prospect and laid all the appropriate groundwork in the early stages of the sales process, closing will be a natural part of the conversation.

It’s just like the dynamic of a man and a woman dating, which we discussed in a previous chapter. If you rush things at the beginning you’ll scare off your date. But if you take your time, show genuine interest and focus on building the relationship there will come a time when there is an expectation of a commitment.

If you have made the investment to serve your prospect, there will come a time when there is an expectation that you will ask for a commitment – you will close the deal. That does not mean the answer will always be yes, it just means there will come a point when it seems natural to bring the conversation to a conclusion – one way or the other. And remember, yes is best but no is a perfectly acceptable answer.

In the old days of selling, it was about the “ABC’s” – Always Be Closing (Think Glengarry Glen Ross. How can we forget “coffee is for…CLOSERS!”). The basic strategy was to spend 10% of your time acting like you were interested in your prospect, and then 90% of your time closing, closing, closing.

I prefer to do just the opposite. I recommend investing 90% of your time and energy into serving and you’ll find yourself spending only 10% of your time and energy closing.

This does not mean you can ask for the order one time and give up.

Remember human nature dictates that when given the choice of spending money today or spending it next Tuesday, we will choose next Tuesday. It is critical to know that even if your prospect likes you; even if your prospect loves your company; even if your prospect wants and needs your product and service; even if your prospect thinks the price is fair and that your offer has tremendous value, he would still prefer to postpone spending his money. It’s in our DNA.

So even though closing is less conflicted if you have done your job up front, you will still need to ask for the order several times.

Listen, most of us have learned everything we need to know about closing from our children. When children want something from you it is, indeed, a lesson in persistence and closing to behold. It’s a thing of beauty when you can step back and analyze it without wanting to strangle your child. They are relentless. They are focused. And they are often successful.

It’s not that you don’t want your child to have Lucky Charms. It’s not that you don’t love your children. And it’s not that you can’t afford Lucky Charms. It is simply a matter of not wanting someone else telling you how and when to spend your money.

So it goes with your prospect. They can love you and your company, want and need your product and service, have the money to afford it and believe it’s a great value, yet they will have a tendency to say “no” just because it’s there money and they will spend it how and when they darn well please.

So, you may have to ask a few times before your prospect says “yes”. If you ask several times and they say “no”, that’s okay too. The only answer that will destroy your income and sales career is “I don’t know. Call me on Tuesday.” No is a perfectly acceptable answer. Tuesday never comes.

Planned Pauses

Planned pauses make excellent additions to your presentation tool kit. They will help you control the sales process and control your own enthusiasm at the same time. Using planned pauses is nothing more than a matter of pausing at appropriate times during your sales conversations. These pauses, however, are a little longer than your typical conversational pauses.

There are a couple of good reasons to use them:

  1. Planned pauses create a noticeable silence that draws the buyers’ attention back to the sale (in cases where you can tell their minds have wandered). If you just stop talking, they’ll notice and wonder what’s going on. Hence, you gain their attention back again.
  2. Planned pauses allow you to slow yourself down and use the appropriate pace for each sales conversation. This is especially important if you normally talk at a somewhat fast pace (perhaps because you’re excited about your product). If your buyers speak more slowly, pauses will help you to converse at a slower pace that’s more comfortable for them.

The pause has been recognized as having a high value ever since the early days of human communication. Even Menander (342 BC) is quoted as saying, “Silence is often advantageous.”

Planned pauses are also helpful to use after hearing the answers  to questions you have posed to your buyers. Rather than jumping right in with another question or presenting a point based on their answer, build in a pause. If your buyers are like most people, your silence will be deemed a “thoughtful” pause. You will be giving yourself a moment to gather your thoughts — evaluating what the buyer has said before making the next move. And the buyer won’t feel like you’re rushing them.

Copyright Tom Hopkins International, Inc. For permission to reprint this post, contact Judy Slack (judys@tomhopkins.com) at Tom Hopkins International, Inc.

The Seven Selling Basics That’ll Make You as Great as You Want to Be

selling basicsWhat so few of us are willing to accept is this fundamental truth: Great salespeople, like great athletes, simply do the basics very well. Some of us would like to believe that there’s a shortcut around the basics; that, if we could only find it, there’s a secret formula out there somewhere for just sitting back and letting the money roll in. The sooner you get rid of that illusion, the sooner you can get on with reaching the heights you want to reach through effective use of the basics.

1. Prospecting. If you’re like most of the people in my seminar audiences, just hearing the word prospecting makes you a little nervous. Don’t think that way. If you don’t like to prospect, it’s because no one has taught you the professional way to do it. I’m going to.

2. Making original contact the professional way. We all meet new people all the time—in social situations, at events for our children, at church, in non-sales business settings. The key to success in selling is to refine your skills during these initial contacts to become memorable to the other folks and to remember as much about them as possible so you can impress them even more on your second meeting—which, hopefully, will be a selling situation.

3. Qualification. Many salespeople spend most of their time talking to the wrong people. If you do that, it doesn’t matter how eloquently you present your service or product. Your earnings are going to be low. I’ll show you how professionals make sure that they invest their time with the right people who can make yes decisions, instead of expending it on the wrong people who can only make no decisions.

4. Presentation. After you qualify and know that this person has a need for your product or service, it’s now time to move on to the fourth basic which is the presentation or demonstration. You must present your product in such a way that they see that it’s just what they had in mind all along.

5. Handling objections. The fifth basic method of developing your competence is to learn how to handle objections effectively. Maybe you’ve had prospects who want to wait and think it over; prospects who already have one of whatever it is you’re selling; prospects who’ve been doing business with your competitor for years. Have you ever heard any of these things? If you’ve been in sales longer than a week, you undoubtedly have. Read on. You’ll find material that’ll make you smile the next time you hear these objections. You’ll smile, bore in—and close a delightful number of such sales. But there’s a price to pay for that smile: You’ve got to learn the concept, adapt the idea to your offering, and learn the words that make it work.

6. Closing the sale. Many average to good salespeople prospect, make contacts, qualify, present, and handle objections so well that they manage to get by without learning to close competently. And that, of course, is what keeps them from being great. Closing contains elements of both art and science, and those elements can be learned.

7. Referrals. After you’ve satisfied the needs of your client and closed the sale, you have earned the right to your next prospect. By that I mean getting referral business from each and every client. That is the seventh and final basic. If they’re happy, they’ll want someone else to be happy, too. I’ll teach you simple steps to getting solid, qualified referrals every time, if you’re willing to learn.

But many of us have forgotten how to learn, so let’s quickly review the steps to learning that apply not only to everything in this book, but to anything you choose to study.

Excerpt from How to Master the Art of Selling – get your copy here to get more selling strategies.