I will teach “Become Your Own Boss: Effective Business Plan Writing”, a three part workshop (total 6 hours) held at Boston Center for Adult Education 122 Arlington Street Boston MA on three consecutive Thursdays 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM February 17 – March 3. Register at http://bcae.org, course #420174 or use the direct link:
Like it or not, every business owner and self-employed professional is in sales. Selling skills are survival skills and they play a pivotal role in keeping one in business.
A Freelancer’s sale has two discrete parts. In the first part of the sale, it is necessary to sell oneself: credibility, expertise, dependability and agreeability. We must convince prospects that we are capable professionals who are trustworthy and therefore eligible to be considered for hire. In the second part of the sale, our objective is to persuade said prospect to actually hire us for a specific project and award the contract (and pay on time, too!).
Selling skills are quite individual and each of us has a signature style. Experts claim that only three selling styles consistently produce successful sales. In fact, based on observations of 800 sales professionals engaged in various types of selling situations, 63% of selling styles are prone to undermine the sales process and result in fewer successful sales. Ouch! Let’s take a look at some typical sales approaches, some top-notch and some deadly:
These pros know how to make selling seem effortless. They have superior product knowledge. They are on top of what is happening in the marketplace. They know how their product stacks up against the competition. They know the customer they’re selling to and they understand that customer’s objectives and concerns when using their product. As a result, they know which features and benefits to highlight, how to best answer questions and objections and how to generate more sales.
Depend on the Closer to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. They’ve got the magic words that can salvage a sale that is in danger of going down the tubes, because they are particularly adept at finessing objections. On the flip side, their smooth-talking style can sometimes turn off clients.
Salespeople who employ this style are known for their superior listening and problem solving skills. Consultants excel at positioning their product as a solution that will meet client needs. Their shortcoming is that they tend to neglect valuable case studies and client success stories that can help clinch still more sales. This type has the greatest potential to ascend to the Expert group.
Storytellers love to provide case studies because they are talkers and they love a good story! Problem is, they often talk past the sale and waste much valuable time in unproductive sales calls.
Members of this group are earnest, enthusiastic, know their product inside-out and believe in it deeply. Typically, Focusers are new to sales and therefore lack the experience that promotes confidence. Focusers often exhaustively detail every product feature and benefit, because they haven’ t yet learned to ask the customer questions about his/her priorities.
Narrators know the product cold and they’re well-versed in the nuances of the competitive landscape, but they are overly dependent upon a sales script, so they deliver the dreaded “canned” presentation. Many (but by no means all) Narrators are new to sales. They, too, lack confidence and cling tenaciously to marketing materials as they present. Members of this group do not respond well to challenging questions or objections.
Socializers may initially charm clients with friendly banter about various interesting and amusing subjects, but these folks forget their objective and don’t know how to get down to business. They make few sales.
As far as practitioners of this selling style are concerned, a sales call is primarily a price negotiation. They are sometimes able to score big wins and they rarely concede much. Unsurprisingly, clients can be turned off by their often combative approach.
So how can you join the Best Salesperson group? Incorporate these strategies into your next sales presentation:
- Stay on message. Every sales presentation should convey a single major theme.
- While conveying that key product message, limit yourself to three main points that focus on customer priorities and preferences. Let your words paint the picture of how your product/service can deliver what the client values most.
- Use case studies or a story that illustrates how a client with a similar profile and objectives successfully uses your product/service. Present a case study that is clear, concise and compelling. Use the story to encourage the client to envision building a successful business relationship with you.
Thanks for reading,