The Art of Selling: 3 Secrets That Can Help You Double Your Income!
Patrick V. Valtin, President of M2-TEC USA, INC.
Patrick V. Valtin is a public speaker, writer, management coach/trainer. He has an extensive experience in the fields of Management consulting & training, and this on an international basis. His professional experience with US and European corporations plus his early background as a salesman gave him a strong taste for down-to-earth management principles which can be applied by pragmatic business owners around the world. Mr. Valtin has travelled in more than 30 countries over the last 20 years and has trained more than 60,000 people.
An MBA from USC in 1982 (Master of international Business Studies), he also graduated from the "Hubbard Organization Executive Course" in 1992, a specialized course for consulting the business owners and executives of small-to-medium sized companies.
Mr. Valtin is the author of the RECRUTECHtm System, a practical method of recruiting. He is also the author of the TRUST$ELLINGtm System, a down-to-earth method that can help boost any sales activity.
Mr. Valtin is currently Chairman of one of the biggest consulting & training firms in Belgium. He is also the President of The Hubbard Management Consultants Association in Europe, as well as a founding member of the Advisory Board for the Hubbard College of Administration, International (Los Angeles). He is also a member of the International Business Advisory Council for the Moore School of Business, University of South Carolina.
If you are a sales professional or an executive managing a sales team, the following tips will definitely allow you to have a different vision of your job. There are a lot of wrong opinions about this wonderful passion that selling is. If you look at the old definition of "selling" you realize that it had originally one meaning: to help. Then that definition was modified and its new meaning became "to cheat" or "to betray".
The image of selling has indeed become too much a negative one, where a sales professional would use many "tricks" in order to convince or influence the customer, many times for dishonest and only monetary purposes. The negative connotation of the word is even more stressed when almost everyone in the country has been cheated – at least once – by a salesman.
Yet as long as somebody has not sold something, nothing happens. As long as no sales occur in a business, no future and no survival can be guaranteed for that business. To put it straight Sales is where is starts!
My purpose in this article is to share with you the results of 20 years of observation, work and experience in the field of sales strategy. As a Hubbard Management Consultant I had a chance to evaluate and train more than 60,000 sales professionals in more than 20 countries. The areas of expertise of these people were extending from computer systems to industrial equipment or consumer products.
Observing and working with these people led me to detect progressively the attitude and behaviours of those who were much more successful than others. I was very interested to find out if one could define a routine "pattern" or "technique" used by top sales people in their approach. What are these top professionals doing that others are not? What tricks or what magic are they using that makes the customer wan to buy from them?
My conclusion was that selling had nothing to do with "special techniques" or any magic. The fact also that "one needs to be born a salesperson" in order to succeed proved very wrong in my own observations and evaluations. What follows is just a snapshot of these observations. See how it can apply to you. It does not matter what you sell, what matters is how you approach and consider the most important person: the customer. You will see that rather than applying any "secret techniques", great salespeople apply to themselves a unique philosophy: Selling is an art more than a profession. It requires first artistic skills, then professional competence. Great arts attract people; aesthetics attract attention. You want to know the difference between a skill and an art? Skills are developed in your head but art is developed in your heart... and that is where great salespeople make the difference!
I. Selling has nothing to do with your product or service
In today’s market conditions the customer does not buy what he needs; he buys what he wants. Desire is much stronger than need in a market place where the power of choice becomes more and more your biggest barrier to a close: what you sell can always be found in another store or from another supplier – often cheaper. So your job is to find out what can trigger an impulse or a strong, unbearable desire to make the buying decision in your favour. Your success in selling depends on your ability to make the customer want to buy from you and not from a (cheaper) competitor.
The first thing he buys has nothing to do with quality or warranty or even price. First he buys trust. He buys confidence about your ability and desire to help him resolve a problem or take advantage of an opportunity. If he does not trust you and does not feel confident with what you say he will go find what he is looking for at another place. The challenge for a sales professional is thus to demonstrate, early in the sales call, that you care more for him and for his sake (his wealth, his security, his comfort, etc.) than you care for money or the order.
II. Forget your arguments – that is not what makes the sales
Have an honest look at your best argument, the one that would beat all. No matter how good or how strong it is, chances are that your competition is using it too! Today, when the market becomes more and more driven by "power of choice" (of the customer), you can’t rely on any monopoly – or sense of, anymore. Now, what happens when the customer hears the same arguments, again and again, from different suppliers? How is he reacting to the same "sales pitch" coming from different sales people who "sell the same thing"?
You got it: the customer gets confused, sceptical and untruthful. But then, as he needs to see where the difference is between all these suppliers and proposals, where is he going to look at? You got it again: he looks at the price, because that is the most obvious point of difference. That explains why you can observe in very competitive markets a "war" on prices: it is unfortunately too often the only point of difference.
Relying on your best argument does not make you any different from the competition. So then what do you use to make the difference? What then would make the sales? There is a factor that is much more impinging on the customer’s buying process – or call it a major "buying factor": the certainty of making the right decision – or the anxiety of making the wrong one (usually much stronger!).
Can your best arguments help in either increasing his certainty or – better, decreasing his anxiety/fear related to his decision? Absolutely not. So what do you need?
You need attitude. Because that is the first thing he buys. He buys your conviction and certainty in your ability to help him; he buys your dedication to find the right solution for his problem; he buys you first. See, most salespeople fall in a big trap: they work the customer in a superficial zone: the zone of logics. They do not understand that the major buying factor has nothing to do with logics – where your arguments stand. Buying is always (at least a little bit) more emotional than logical. So using logical arguments usually do not trigger the desire; they trigger only "thinkingness" or counter-arguments (have you ever had a customer asking to buy right after you placed your best argument?).
You thus need to "convert" your arguments into emotional triggers by finding out what emotional subject can be related to your product or service. For example: Your product is a computer system that can help a company increase their productivity by 20 to 30%. The argument is about productivity. What is one emotional subject behind that argument? In other words, why could it be important for the business owner to improve productivity? Let us say you find that he wants to be ahead of the competition, he has great ambition to be a leader in his field, nationwide. That is an emotional subject related to your service. If you can find that out and if you can demonstrate to your customer that your job – pardon me, your mission is to help him reach that leadership, he will want to buy from you!
III. What is the most important quality in selling?
We have heard it all: a good salesperson needs to be enthusiastic, convinced about his product, persistent, caring, honest, passionate, dedicated, etc. etc... And he must be able to listen too!
All these qualities are definitely needed and vital to succeed. But today there is one quality required, more than any other. Without that one, you will fail to make the difference. And you will often fail to close. Now the good news is, you do not need to be borne with such quality. You can learn it, develop it and start to master it within less than one month. And I promise when you get good at it, you will see a huge change in your performance...That quality is: curiosity!
Look up the word in a good dictionary: you will find out that the first definition of "curiosity" is interest. Great salespeople are curious, they are interested. They want to know so many things about their customers, about their need of course, but more importantly, about their personal desires, fears, concerns. They want to find out what makes their customer "go in life". They want to find out all about them. They also want to know all about their past good and/or bad experiences with similar products or services.
Remember when you were young? Did your grandmother ever tell you that curiosity was bad? That you should not ask "all these questions"? Well that was unfortunately not a good advice. In my research and evaluation of all these great salespeople, this is the one quality that I found. This is the difference that I could detect between most salespeople and the great ones!
Great salespeople are curious. They want to know. They do not try to bombard the customer with arguments. They try to find out (I) "who is this person I am talking to", (II) "what does he need and what does he like?", (III) "what are his desires, concerns or fears, related to the subject of my product/service?". And this even before they start talking about their product or service.
As a matter of facts, if you should remember one thing about this article, remember this: the more you know, the more you sell. It is not "the more I talk the more I sell", as many of us have been educated into believing. Consider this: on average, a salesperson will ask 5 to 8 questions before starting to talk and argue (about his product). An observation of successful salespeople revealed that they would ask up to 5 times as many questions, before presenting and arguing about their product. They are genuinely interested.
Why would they want to know so much? Well, there are three strategic answers to this question. The first reason is, when you ask questions you put your attention on the customer, not on your product. The second reason is, you get good information that will help you direct your presentation "to the point". And the third reason is: "the one who asks is the one who controls" (how many times did you sell to someone who was asking all the questions?).
So you could put up a list of questions that would help you answer this one: "What do I need to know in order to make the sale?" Once you work with that attitude, you will see a big change in your profession – as well as in your life. Because you soon realize that "one is as important as he can grant others importance". And for your customers, guess who the most important person on this planet is?
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