Throughout the month of March, I’ve had a theme going on here. The focus has been on sales and marketing. This is the last in the series on “Taking the cotton out of your ears, and putting it in your mouth.”
First, a recap of what we’ve covered so far:
- Pinterest Strategies for Marketing Your Business
- How to Get New Subscribers All Week Long without Lifting a Finger
- How to use Mailchimp to Nurture Relationships with Your List
- Your Sales Pipeline and Nimble CRM
- How to Use LiveChat to Increase Sales and Retention
With the above plus today’s article, my hope is that you have a resource that will help you develop a sales and marketing strategy for your own firm. I invite you, always to post your comments below with any questions or feedback.
Assuming that the above has worked well for you, then you’re going to find yourself on the phone with more prospects, hoping to convert prospects into clients. Many people will suggest that you have a questionnaire for them to fill out, so you can assess their needs.
I’m just going to be honest and say that I hate that idea!
You’re about to build a relationship with a client. In fact, long before the sales call, you began to cultivate and nurture that relationship. Now that you’re getting to the most intimate part, you’re going to ask them to fill out a questionnaire?
My process has proven to be very effective. My closing rate is much higher than most, and here’s why I believe that’s true.
Moving past all of the usual stuff about having confidence and the other stuff you’ve read 1,000 times before everywhere else on the web, I want to describe how the actual conversation goes.
I don’t have a questionnaire. I don’t have a script. In fact, the first thing I do, either immediately before the call, or the minute I realize I am on it, is I pull up a blank screen, and enlarge my screen to full screen, where I can take notes. Evernote works great for this, these days I am using Workflowy for this.
The reason these details are important, is that if I can see other stuff on my screen, I can be distracted, and miss what the prospect is telling me. I have to be 1,000% attentive to my clients and prospects’ needs, and so here goes your next tip:
Assume the sale is already made, and it already is.
Treat your prospect like they are already your client. This has a direct impact on your mindset, and sales is ALL about psychology, and mostly yours, not the client’s.
If an existing client calls you for help, then you are much more relaxed, aren’t you?
So how do you get into this mindset, and treat the prospect like they are already a client? Stop worrying about getting the client, and run the conversation like this:
“Hey [insert name here]. Tell me what’s going on with you / your business, and how can I help?”
That’s it! That’s the whole sales pitch right there. The minute you ask that question, you take the cotton out of your ears, and put it in your mouth. Listen, and take notes. Don’t write every word. Summarize, and listen for the things that indicate where the client needs help. And call them a client, don’t call them a prospect – again – mindset is everything.
Even if you think you’ve reached the point, where you are sure you know exactly what the client needs, keep the cotton in your mouth. In most cases, it will prove to be true, but this covers you for the few cases, where the additional information revealed, leads you to believe that there is another more appropriate solution that you can offer them.
Waiting it out, even when you already know the solution does a few really important things, and it’s all about the relationship.
First, and foremost, the client is left with the feeling like you listened, because you actually did. That, right there, is the #1 most effective tool in sales. Gaining the client’s confidence that you actually listened to them. The reason this is so important is because it indicates the real #1 most important component of any relationship.
You actually care!
The other thing that hearing the client out does, is it gives you the opportunity to learn much more about the client. Oftentimes, I am able to offer more than I would have, because I listened. I wind up making more money, and making the client more happy. Everybody wins.
The last part, has to be in place well before the sales call, and hopefully by now it is.
Now that you’ve heard the problems, it’s time to offer the solutions, and that’s the other key to this. You have to have an arsenal of solutions ready. It’s not a question of whether or not you’re going to work with them. It’s just a question of how.
When a client tells me, for example, that they can’t afford one of my more premium plans, I have a “support plan” that offers a compromise. I won’t do as much, but I can still offer my guidance and expertise on a more limited basis. This covers us for each of two cases:
- The client really can’t afford you.
- They don’t see the value yet.
If the client really can’t afford you yet, then this is a perfect compromise.
If the client doesn’t’ see the value yet, then this is how you put your product in their hands, and let them take it for a test drive. Once they see the value, in what you can do for them firsthand, then there is no selling required. They will likely come to you for the upgrade, and you can certainly suggest it. Or the client will ask you for something, that opens the door wide open, for you to say, “this is exactly what my [other plan] is designed to offer.”
Selling really isn’t about selling. It’s about listening with insane intensity, reading between the lines, and deeply understanding what the client needs. Then you offer solutions.