Would your prospect write a check for your sales call?
Read that title again.
You’re thinking you want the sale. You don’t expect to get a check for the call. You’re lucky to have gotten the appointment.
Neil Rackham is the author of many books like Spin Selling, Rethinking the Sales Force and a number of other books. Years ago, when I was a new sales executive, Neil spoke at one of our meetings. After his presentation, he met with a small group of us. Most of the discussion I’ve long forgotten, but I’ve never forgotten this question.
Bring Incredible Value
“Is your sales call so valuable that your client would write a check for your visit?”
He obviously wasn’t suggesting we collect checks after every client meeting. But he was saying that we should bring value to the call. More value than a sales pitch. We should do our homework and be able to offer solutions to the client beyond simply closing a deal.
Robert, already in my interactions with you, I can tell how important relationships are to you. Why are relationships so important to success? How are you able to build relationships with so many people so quickly and easily?
First of all, Skip, I’m not sure the words “so quickly and easily” are applicable. One of my favorite expressions is, “The Tortoise won the race.” It is true that I’ve literally established a few hundred strong relationships over the past 19 months of networking, but it’s been done in a “slowly but surely” methodology. I’ve been going about networking the same way I’ve interacted with people all my life: caring about them, showing an genuine interest in them, trying to help them all I possibly can, creating friendships wherever I go—the bank, cleaners, post office, you name it. I take the time to get to know people well. Then, when I go out to do my errands, I’m not just doing mindless tasks; I’m going out to see my friends. It makes life so much more pleasant and meaningful. It’s smelling the roses and enjoying the journey as you live your daily life. It’s living in the moment.
It’s the same way with networking. When people of interest follow me, I send out personal direct messages inviting them to talk, interact on a high plain. I offer to help them; and it’s not just empty rhetoric, it’s for real. It’s putting into practice what the late Zig Ziglar meant when he said, “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.” It’s giving of yourself, paying it forward, so to speak; and people respond positively to this approach. Who doesn’t want to be around people who genuinely care about them? We all want that! What’s so wonderful about it is how it comes back to you in so many positive ways. Not always directly, but it does come back to you. Those who approach networking with the “it’s all about me” mindset, who are in a hurry to sell something without bothering to establish a solid relationship first, are foolishly self-sabotaging themselves, to say nothing about missing out on a lot of fun.
Let’s talk about fear. It stops so many of us at various times. Whether in sales or in life, how do you help people overcome it?
David and Marhnelle Hibbard have just released Soar Selling, a new book designed for anyone in sales. And, in my opinion, all of us are in sales and can benefit from learning the techniques in books like this one. The subtitle is, “How to Get Through to Almost Anyone-the Proven Method for Reaching Decision Makers,” but it’s more comprehensive than that subtitle suggests. It’s a must read for anyone in the world of selling.
I recently had the opportunity to ask David and Marhnelle about SOAR and their observations of the world of selling.
First, what does the SOAR acronym stand for?
It stands for “Surge of Accelerating Revenue” because when organizations install SOAR… revenue ‘surges!’ – It’s about driving net new business. Through years of training sales, we have seen client attrition in organizations, mergers, economic shifts, loss of major accounts, etc….as a result, it is critical to consistently drive new business to protect base revenue! So SOAR is about driving strategic call activity to potential new clients.
As your subtitle suggests, you have methods for getting to decision makers in this book. It’s impossible in a quick interview to delve into all of the tactics and methods for doing that, so we will briefly touch on that and then hit other areas. What have you observed is the biggest problem for sales people reaching decision makers?
Multiple, but one of the primary is their “mindset.” Salespeople often approach making the call with an attitude of “TRY” or even worse…“I don’t think I’ll get through – I’ll probably get blocked or the receptionist is out to get me.”
Mindset and attitude figure prominently in your teaching. Tell us more about mindset.
“If you think you can or your think you can’t …either way you are right.” We teach the techniques of getting through and there is a specific formula SOAR reveals; however, the power of mindset and strategic SOAR mechanics ends up defining results!
One of the questions I always ask a customer is why.
Why did you choose us? I love to call new customers and ask. I’ve done this hundreds of times throughout my career. In all of those conversations, I’ve never had a new customer not want to tell me the “why.” And I learn valuable information with each phone call or visit.
It’s such an easy thing to ask. I’m not sure why everyone doesn’t make it a habit. Like most things, it may be easy to do but it’s also easy not to do. I know when I fall out of the habit, I lose a valuable opportunity.
Almost always mentioned is the professionalism of the company’s representative. It may also be the service, the product, or the price. It could also be driven by a negative experience with the competition.
It’s important to listen and understand why customers are buying from you. It can inform your corporate strategy. You may spot a trend. You may learn that you have strengths you didn’t even realize. You may even develop new services because of the feedback.
Almost invariably on these calls I find other benefits:
Developing new relationships
Hearing about issues I wouldn’t have known about
Learning about employees who have gone above and beyond
If you’re running a business or in a leadership position, take the time out to make a few calls. Ask the question. Then, just listen and take notes. I’m willing to bet you will learn more than you thought possible.