1). Be prepared:
The Boy Scout motto is “Be prepared.” The same applies to selling. You need to do your homework first. Research your prospect’s LinkedIn profile. Read his website – especially blogs. If they are available, download any relevant white papers, cases studies or e-books from your prospect’s website. Subscribe to your prospects newsletter. In short, you need to get inside your prospect’s head and understand his concerns and problems. Initially, you don’t have to spend a lot of time on research. But if you are dealing with a serious prospect who is trialing your service, or requesting a demo, that’s when you need to dig a little deeper to learn more about him.
2). Ask good qualifying questions:
If you really want to know what your prospect thinks, or how to help him, ask good qualifying questions. By qualifying, I mean open-ended questions that will result in more than the standard “yes” or “no” answers. You may be a professional salesperson, but start acting more like a professional journalist.
3). Be an expert in your industry:
No matter what you are selling, you must become an expert in your industry. These days, prospects are looking for more than just order takers – they are seeking expert advice. They want you to teach them and show them the way. Frankly, most prospects have already done their research long before they contact you. They are now at the stage where they are seeking confirmation on what to purchase, or they want to use you as a sounding board. They want someone they can trust. The more you know, the more you will sell.
4). More empathy, less greed:
If you come across too desperate or greedy, it will show. Show some concern. Listen. Put yourself in the client’s shoes. Remember, you are not a telemarketer making a quick sale by credit card over the phone. You are a professional salesperson who is trying to close a large sale, but more importantly, one who is developing a long-term relationship that could result in more sales and referrals down the road.
5). In fact, don’t close at all:
Most clients are too savvy these days to fall for the stereotypical closing techniques. Contrary to the advice from Blake in Glengarry Glen Ross, you shouldn’t be closing all the time. That’s for con artists – not professionals. If you did everything right throughout the sales process – ask good qualifying questions, determine needs, making sure you understand the decision-making process, ask good trial questions, and handle objections, the close should actually be the easy part.
Surprisingly, some salespeople actually forget to ask for the order! Or, they are so shy, they assume the prospect will make the purchasing decision without their help. Wrong. You always need to ask for the order. If you don’t, you’re in the wrong business.
Closing should be easy. It’s getting to that point that may be difficult. As the self-help experts like to say “it’s not about the goal but the journey that matters.” Take your time. Do it right.