I've sold everything from commodity memory upgrades to multi-million dollar custom software development projects. I've had years where I worked a few extremely large deals, and others where I covered an installed base of thousands of clients. Throughout my many years in direct sales, I have had many mentors and studied many sales methodologies… There are a few themes that recur in every type of sales, and are passed down from one grizzled sales generation to the next. Here are 5 of my favorite sales axioms... old hat to anyone who's been successful, pure gold for the green bean looking to build a sales career!
Sell benefits, not features… don't describe the tea-cup you're trying to sell… talk about how it will make you feel to drink out of such an elegant vessel, and how the design of the handle will prevent you from getting burns on your knuckles.
Listen more than you talk… if you ask open ended questions, and listen carefully to everything your customer is saying (and not saying), you will get great clues about the pain points that you might be able to solve. This is a great way to align the benefits of your products with your particular customer.
Follow through on your commitments… the most important aspect of a sales relationship is trust. Your customer has to trust that you and your product will deliver the value that you've promised it will. If you break other commitments, as simple as not returning a call on schedule or forgetting to send a link to an article that you mentioned, your clients will associate you and your product with failing to deliver. That's a difficult hurdle to overcome.
Qualify, Qualify and Qualify again… your most valuable resource is time. Every minute that you spend with a prospect that isn't going to buy is a minute that you're missing with someone who will. Some people have a hard time saying no, so you have to determine how likely a customer is to actually make a purchase. Do they have the budget, need and authority to make a commitment? If not, can they get it? If not… quickly move on!
Have a plan, and work the plan… Winning in sales of any kind usually boils down to knowing what it is that you need to do to be successful, and then actually doing it. Your plan needs to describe the specific activities that you need to execute on to identify, make contact with, sell to and close your prospects, along with how many and how often these activities need to be done. If you have the right plan, the only thing between you and great success is executing the plan!
Mat Brogie is part of the founding team, and CEO of Repsly, the world's leading solution for high performance retail execution teams. Mat has spent the past 15 years of his career focused on bringing technology enabled business solutions to the consumer goods industry, having implemented solutions for tens of thousands of field reps at companies such as Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble, Pepperidge Farm and hundreds of others.