The Six Most Important Sales You have to Make in an Initial Call
You have hit the mother lode in securing a very important meeting. You are keenly aware that the window of opportunity in today's hyper busy environment means you have very little time to create trust, encourage open flow of information, create deep understanding, get to the truth and encourage action and decision making.
The following represents the most important elements of an initial sales call. One should have a single purpose to sell the customer on these six key elements. You will notice that none of the six elements represent a traditional selling posture of self-serving behavior.
- Trust—Most sales people do not have the natural gift to create trust consistently on their sales calls by their mere presence. The most important initiative and priority is to create trust, or to be perceived as trustworthy. If you cannot establish trust early on then your foundation is a house of cards.
In bygone years it was sufficient to have people like you to ensure a positive relationship. In today's marketplace people buy from people they respect. They must also trust their input. Being personable and likable is important to be invited to the dance; being trustworthy is essential to have someone choose you as a dance partner.
For the majority of sales people, in order to get trust, one must first extend it. One must extend a gesture of good faith or goodwill to initially make customers feel comfortable. This can be accomplished by a simple gesture of telling a customer you need to ask some questions to get a sense as to whether or not you could ever be a good fit for them. Without trust, it is very difficult to get credible information. Without credible information you are flying in the dark. So the most important sale is selling your customer on your trustworthiness, not on your solution.
- Information—The second most important sale in the initial sales engagement after you have trust is influencing your customer to share important, sensitive or proprietary information. In the information economy it is critical for the sales person to reverse the traditional flow of information. Sales people are paid and rewarded for their questions, not their information.
One should use one's information primarily as a tool to gather more information. Your value proposition will carry weight only if you first assess and understand what the implications and costs are for the absence of your offering in your customer's business. You have to find out what is wrong generally before you can tell a customer how you can make their situation right. Without first establishing this you are on very weak footing.
- Understanding—&Without trusted information it will be virtually impossible to truly understand your customer. You need to sell your customer on your understanding of their priorities and their problems. If they do not have any problems, then your understanding and insight will only have marginal value. You demonstrate your understanding by building a business case for change, instead of the traditional product case for change. When you really understand your customer's issues you act like a change-agent. You help the customer come to their own conclusions, independent of your selling agenda. The sales person with the best understanding of the customer's business will consistently outsell the sales person with the best solution, the best price and the best innovation.
- The Truth—Selling is all about getting to the truth. You must influence the customer early on in sharing with you the truth. As long as you extend credibility by offering the truth, being realistic, objective and taking a balanced sales perspective, the truth will more often than not find you. The best way to pave the way for the truth is to take a non-selling posture. The non-selling posture promotes full and open disclosure and has a position of nothing to sell, nothing to prove or disprove, and no fixed agenda or rigid selling posture. The non-selling posture is credible because it is not self-serving or laced with self-interest.
- Decisiveness—In getting customers to make decisions and take action, one must constantly get customers comfortable to make decisions. The reason customers filibuster sales people and take them down the primrose path is because they were never given an easy out or a chance to say "no interest amigo." Remember, you cannot define an unconditional "yes" decision without giving customers the option to tell you "no." Customers are reluctant to give sales people negative decisions because they believe they will not be able to handle it, or they will unleash an obnoxious full-court press. The job of a sales person is not to sell or persuade. It actually is a little easier and more realistic. The job of the sales person is to get customers to make decisions, for or against.
- Value—The importance of bringing value beyond your product and your deliverables is crucial. This is one of the most underrated skill sets in the marketplace. The very best sales people I have observed are really good business strategists. Customers do not even look at them as sales people. "The true value of a consultant and a trusted advisor is the customer would pay for their advice outside of the product and service they deliver," says Jeff Thull. This is the toughest skill set for the competition to replicate. Regardless of where a business strategist goes for employment, customers will seek out their counsel more for their insight, and less for what they are selling. You must sell your customer on your business acumen.
The preceding represent critical points of influence. What makes this task less daunting and more credible is the idea that the sales person is operating from a non-selling posture; a position of no fuss no muss, no fluff, in-depth questions, seeking to understand before being understood, complete transparency and a straight up position. It is amazing when you give up control you are so much more credible. It is amazing how effective you can be in the act of selling when you simply stop selling. The goal is to accelerate trust and enhance the flow of truthful information in an environment where customers are free to act on their own free will.