Selling - the professional way  

Posted by: Juan Marco

Selling is a skill. It's not an exact science. It is rather a use of EQ than IQ. Here are basic tips on how to sell- the professional way.

First, be an active listener. One of the most common mistake of a salesman is that he/she talks to much. Study shows that at most the salesman should only do 50% of the talking, at best he /she should talk 30% of the conversation. Remember selling is a dialogue not a monologue. What does active listening entails? Here are the five active listening skills

  • Listen for Message Content. Try to hear exactly what is being said.
  • Listen for Feelings. Try to identify how the source feels in terms of the message content. Is this something pleasing or displeasing to the source?. Why?
  • Respond to Feelings. Let the source know that his or her feelings as well as message content are recognized.
  • Note all Signals, Verbal and Non-verbal. Be sensitive to both types of communication. Identify mixed messages that need to be clarified.
  • Reflect back to the source, in your own words, what you are hearing. Restate the verbal and non-verbal messages as feedback to which the source can respond with further information.
After developing an active listening skills, we now go to the instant selling skills. Once the customer/client ask you to take a seat, launch a good ICEBREAKER. Making a good first impression is important. Prepare a non-business positive statement that you can sincerely state that will create a good emotional response. Capture the immediate attention of the prospect by stating the initial benefit statement on interesting topic. That would be a need, a problem, an objective, an attractive benefit that interest the customer. Relate the initial benefit statement to your product and/or company.

After you have caught the prospect's attention you may now begin your "one-on-one research" and that is PROBING. Getting the right intelligence is crucial to the sales professional. The pro knows he must first discover the specific needs, wants, concerns, problems and even the vision/mission and objectives of the customer. The customer knows what he wants, but "he may have needs he is not aware of". Your first task is to evaluate the customer's current situation, as completely as possible before starting to sell. You need to find out the following
  • what are his attitude about your product? your company?
  • What problem/s are keeping him awake at night?
  • What important objectives does his company want to achieve? what other major concerns does he have for now and the immediate future?
The more you know about his current situation, the better you can match your product/service to his needs and wants. The product-oriented amateur never gets to know what is important to the client, and latter becomes quickly bored with the sales person's continuous babbling. By probing it will help you create an interesting dialogue with the customer, you can proceed even when you do not quite know how to proceed with the sales interview, continue with the sales dialogue even though the customer has turned down your request, or expressed disbelief about what you have said and set up situations whereby you can positively support the customer. A skilled sales person has excellent emotional intelligence, he is empathetic of the customer. He cant think and feel like him even though he disagrees. He has the skill to show the customer again and again that he understand the customer's situation, his joy, his worry his doubt and his concern.

After your one-on-one research with the customer it's time for you to close the sale. The typical amateur in selling is ineffective in closing the sale. If you do not get this most important part of the sale done, "all else go to waste". You must be adept at asking for the sale, for the commitment from the customer. But when is the right time to close the sale? It is really simple, it's when the customer expresses interest or states agreement with benefit you have just stated. Remember to talk about the benefit of your product and not the feature. The selling professional is "closing as soon as he meets the customer". He does this by assuming by manner and speech that the customer will buy. When the pro hears a positive response from the customer, the pro will briefly summarize the benefit important to the customer. Then he ask for the order with good closing statement.

After studying sales starts at 70 large US companies a consulting company concluded that the biggest difference between the exceptional performer and the ordinary one was: "the ability to listen". Top performers allow customer to do 70% of the talking. Compared to the ordinary sales people, these outstanding sales person are successful because they get more info from the customer, they achieve "better fit" between their product/service and the needs and concern of the customer and they develop a better relationship faster.

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