5 Tips for More Effective Sales Communication
Hello Mr. Customer, it's Dave, I just wanted to touch base with you because I heard that you had awarded my competition a contract to handle your online sales presentation business?
Hi Dave. Yes, we awarded that business to your competition. I had no idea your company performed that type of service.
Mr. Customer, with all due respect, the last four times we spoke I brought up the fact that our company had a cutting-edge sales presentation product, and that we could make it available to you at a fraction of what our competitor would charge because of your existing business with us, does this ring a bell?
Yes Dave, I remember now, and not sure why, but I had no idea that's what you were talking about, sorry about that...hope there are no hard feelings, just wish you had made it more clear, so when are you coming by to take us to lunch?
The above scenario is not uncommon. It is absolutely mind-boggling how you can tell a customer something over and over again while looking them right in the eye, but they do not hear you. Has this ever happened to you? If you've been in sales for more than a few months, then it probably has, and you share the frustration with all other sales people. But what can be done about this? How can we make sure that we are getting our point across? I would like to offer five suggestions to help you in your quest to be heard and to turn the hearing into understanding and understanding into earning.
Always listen first. You are designed very purposefully, with two ears and one mouth. This design ensures that we are very slow to speak and very quick to listen so that when we do speak, we will have more to say. By listening actively, you will ensure that your customer or prospect feels heard, because they are heard. Once your customer or prospect is heard in a sales situation, they will be more apt to give the floor to you. Mainly because you will be speaking in the context of their understanding.
Clarify Your Understanding
When you do not understand, ask for clarification. Sometimes your customer or prospect says things to you that simply don't make sense, at least you. Sometimes your mind is wandering, thinking about the next thing you'll say, or the next place you are going (this is human, it happens). But what are you to do about it? Hopefully, pride does not come before a fall. When you do not understand something the customer saying or you do not grasp some nuance of their business model, simply stop and ask for clarification. No one will ever fault you for wanting to understand. They will, however, fault you if they tell you something, you nod your head in assent, but in actuality you never really get it. Little will kill a sale faster than this.
Ask Smart Questions
Never introduce an idea to a customer by pontificating. Although it might feel great to you to go on a rant and rave about the things that your company has to offer, it is simply white noise to busy people who have their own things to worry about. Start instead, by asking questions, smart questions, questions that demand an answer that lead to uncovering a need that you, naturally, have a way to fix. Instead of saying "my company has sales consulting services, if you'd ever like to take advantage of it let me know," ask the following: "Are you up against some difficult revenue objectives? Wouldn't it be nice to have your sales force achieve its sales objectives and bring some much-needed revenue to the table? If this is the case, I think we can help. If I could show you a way to solve this problem, would you be interested?" Think they are listening now? You bet.
When a new idea is introduced, always follow up: never assume because you connect with someone on a certain topic that they have understood what you said and have committed it to memory, or that they are willing to act upon it. Instead always assume that you need to clarify your objectives and offering in order to ask for the business. Always summarize the thoughts and ideas that are born from sales meetings, sales presentations, sales calls and any other selling situation. Never take anything for granted, and remember nothing your company offers is worth anything until a customer understands it and buys it. Sales follow-up is by far one of the greatest differentiators between top sales performers and those who never quite make it. Millions of dollars are left on the table due to lack of sales follow-up, because once momentum is lost, is very difficult to break inertia once again. It is even more frightening to think that after you have introduced your client, prospect or customer to a new concept and identified a need at their organization that, because you didn't followed up, they turn around and select your competition as the provider. I encourage you to consider utilizing online sales presentation software - sales software specifically designed to help sales professionals stay connected with their prospects and customers.
Be a Detective
Utilize the famous pre-planned Columbo close. If you have ever seen the 1970's crime drama series, you would remember Peter Falk, on his way out the door, turning around and saying just one more thing. That 'one more thing' would unlock all the mysteries of that episode - the culmination of all of the facts he had gathered during the episode. After a while you would know, that just when you thought it was over and there was no way he could get the bad guy, 'that one more thing' would nail them to the wall. This is a great selling technique. Before every sales meeting, plan the Colombo close, just one more thing that you will ask the customer on your way out. "Just one more thing, Mr. Customer, who is handling your brokerage business out of Southeast Asia at this time? Is that right? I don't know if I ever mentioned it, but we actually provide that service and using our service would be a tremendous enhancement because..."
Just one more thing...I was wondering, do YOU have any suggestions for making sure there is powerful two-way communication during the sales process?