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 Assume the Sale...
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Sales & Marketing Newsletter
Did You Know?

Believe it or not, there have been times when professional sales people were thought to be a dying breed.

For example, we've been told that back in the 1950's lots of people believed that "salesmen" (that's how they were referenced back then) would soon be obsolete because of the rapidly-growing popularity of television.

"Instead of fielding salesmen we can run TV commercials," they thought.

But, of course, this didn't turn out to be the case... and, fast-forward about fifty years, some thought that the Internet would soon take the place of sales people.

But this too isn't happening.

However, there is a related "species" that is fast-becoming endangered... these are the "order takers" among us.

Order-takers are the type of "sales people" who don't really assess a buyer's situation or needs, but rather ask weaker questions such as, "What are you looking for?" or "What do you need?"

In contrast, the best sales people approach their work in a more value-added style; and the true value of a sales professional is their ability to assess a buyer's situation and goals, and to then offer advice.

Even in cases of inbound requests for products or services, the professional and astute sales person confirms "why" the buyer is seeking whatever-it-is they've asked for, just to make sure the product or service is the right fit.

So to clarify: professional sales people are NOT becoming obsolete."

But order-takers beware!


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 Selling Quotes
"Stop selling and start helping! You will get all you want in life if you help enough people get what they want."
—Zig Ziglar 
"You miss 100% of the shots you don't take."
—Wayne Gretzky 
"If you aren't going all the way, why go at all?"
—Joe Namath 
"High expectations are the key to everything."
—Sam Walton 
Assume the Sale, But Never the Reason!

At the outset of each new year it is common for business organizations to set new revenue-growth goals, and people often seek best practices for closing sales more effectively.

But while there are certainly many techniques and approaches involved in completing a sale, closing is not a stand-alone activity; and a seller who attempts to "close the sale" more aggressively without properly executing the pre-requisites can do more harm than good!

3 Keys to Closing More Sales
Successful sales professionals are able to more effectively close sales not because they are silver-tongued or aggressive when it comes to asking for the business, but rather because they are diligent and proficient when it comes to implementing three important things:

  1. First is the comprehensive execution of the selling process. As noted above, "closing" is not a stand-alone activity but rather it is part of a coordinated process. The effective movement from step-to-step within this selling process is what enables a sales person to develop the relationship, knowledge and confidence required to qualify and assess opportunities, present the right and most compelling solutions, and to ultimately close the sale.

    Clark Green was managing a business development team at Infor, a global leader in business cloud software products, when he explained this perspective very nicely. "To be successful a Rep has to earn the right to go from one step to the next within the selling process, and along the way he or she must build a foundation on which to ask for the order."

  2. Next, the most successful sellers are not only able to consistently execute the entire selling process, but also to do so in a naturally-assumptive style. In fact, it is common for these sales people to honestly expect customers and prospects to buy. This attitude or communication style is often referred to as "assuming the sale," which simply means that the sales person approaches each selling opportunity with a tone, demeanor and attitude that implies, "I'm sure when all the facts and options are considered, you'll feel most comfortable doing business with me."
  3. It's important to realize, however, that while it can be advantageous to assume a customer or prospect will, in fact, make a favorable buying decision, it is dangerous to assume we know their reason for doing so.

    "Assuming the sale" is not based on over-confidence or unfounded assumptions. Instead, it is the result of mastering the third pre-requisite, which is to ask the right questions and, of course, to listen carefully to our buyers' answers. This will require some pre-thought and planning... and there are three specific types of questions that must be included:

    • Assessment questions are used to help us understand each buyer's situation and what they are hoping to accomplish. These questions tend to be more effective when phrased in "open-ended" style (requiring more than a simple "Yes or No" answer) and we must incorporate the information gained into subsequent questions and benefit statements.

      Ideally, we should never offer a solution until we fully understand the reasons why a person or organization should buy our product or service. Each potential buyer is different, and it is our responsibility as sellers to engage in a thorough qualification and need assessment before attempting to close the sale. Once the opportunity is qualified, our goal is to identify needs, priorities and best interests, and continue to do so until we can offer solutions that satisfy all three.

    • Trial closing questions will help us to test or confirm our buyer's receptivity as well as his or her understanding of our value proposition. These questions can be closed-ended, such as, "What do you think so far?" They are critically important for two very different reasons:
      • If we receive enthusiastically positive answers our confidence level will increase, and we'll know we're on the right track for closing the sale.
      • If we receive negative or spiritless replies then we'll know there was a misunderstanding on someone's part, and we can avoid making an unsuccessful attempt at closing the sale. Instead, we can revert to the assessment step and ask more in-depth or clarifying questions to see where we went off-track.

    • Closing questions. These should be closed-ended and straightforward and must be posed with confidence. It is also important to be silent after posing a closing question, thus giving our buyer an opportunity to respond at his or her preferred pace.

If our qualifying, probing and listening techniques are well-executed, it is likely we'll be able to more naturally assume and close the sale. If we fail to properly execute these steps, then closing the sale becomes a guessing-game.

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A Few Quick Seconds…

Here are a couple of related articles from past issues you might have missed, and which generated especially positive feedback:

Bridging the Communication Gap
Miscommunication can be costly, and often leads to conflict and stress. A proven method of avoiding it when selling or interacting with colleagues is…

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Conviction: A New Year Pursuit?
Have you ever wondered about the impact of belief or conviction? That is, not only believing in what we do, but also in our ability to do it?

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Paul Charles & Associates
519 Mammoth Rd - Londonderry, NH 03053
[603] 537-1190