While I have done my share of sales, like I’m sure you have, I would never call myself a “sales superstar.” Fortunately, in my line of business, I get to meet many people who do in fact fit that description, begging the question, what do they have in common?
Let me suggest it is five things:
Sales Superstar Secret #1: Language is Vital: Brian Tracy, maybe the world’s best salesman, tells the story of how his first sales job was selling soap door-to-door to earn his way to YMCA Camp. He heard rejection after rejection until he oh-so-slightly rephrased his sales pitch. Instead of asking, “Would you like to buy a box of soap?” he said instead that he was selling soap, but that “it was only for beautiful women.” Thereafter he says, getting to camp was a breeze.
Your choice of words is critical, Tracy says.
Secret #2: Know the Most Important Question to Ask: In his great book, The Little Red Book of Sales Answers, author and master salesman Jeffrey Gitomer says there is one question to ask a customer that is critical to sales success:
Ask: “When I say [name of your product], what one word comes to mind?” This tells you what the customer’s hot button or pain point is and allows you to deal with it.
(Gitomer also says that one of the dumbest questions you can ask is, “What will it take to get your business?” You should know.)
Secret #3: Build Rapport: Rapport, once established, will make your sales almost effortless. Once you create rapport with someone, he or she begins to trust you, and with trust, walls and reasons melt away.
There is a sales strategy that suggests that if you quietly mimic your customer’s intonation and physical movements you will subconsciously create rapport. This may or may not be true, but it sure does seem sneaky. Consider instead building rapport the old fashioned way: By being your best self, finding things in common, and being friendly and helpful.
One way to do this is to ask questions, and then actually listen to the answer. Sales king Tom Hopkins says that, “The human body has two ears and one mouth. To be good at persuading or selling, you must learn to use those natural devices in proportion. Listen twice as much as you talk and you’ll succeed in persuading others nearly every time.”
Secret #4: Go the Extra Mile: Because it costs so much more to win a new customer than it does to keep an old one, it behooves you to foster your relationships with your current clientele. Part of that is doing your homework and keeping up to date on where your customers are and what they need. A little extra effort into learning about a customer, for instance, by studying trends in their industry or knowing a bit about a competitor, can go a long way towards impressing that customer and keeping him or her around.
Remember this too – it can takes up to six interactions to close a sale. Going the extra mile means being willing to see a potential customer again and again, continuing to build rapport, until the sale is made.
Finally, going the extra mile also means following up. Sending thank you notes, checking in to see if the product is working out, and that sort of thing builds rapport for future sales.
Secret #5: Sales is Like Golf: If you have ever played even a little golf you know that the harder you try, the less successful you are. But when you ease off the throttle a bit and trust your natural abilities, when you stop trying so hard, that is when the great shots appear.
Well, to a certain extent the same is true in sales. It is a paradox: Just as you make the great golf shot by not caring about the great golf shot, so too can you get the sale by not worrying about the sale. A customer can sense when a sale is your priority, and will back off accordingly. But once he is convinced you are more concerned with helping him solve his problem, rather than being more concerned with selling, you will birdie the sale.
About Steve Strauss
Steve Strauss is one of the world’s leading small business experts. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. Steve is also the author of the Small Business Bible and his latest book is Get Your Business Funded: Creative Methods for Getting the Money You Need. A popular media guest, Steve is a regular contributor to ABC News Now and frequently appears on television and radio. His business, The Strauss Group, creates unique, actionable, entertaining, and informative multi-media small business content.