Effective sales techniques can be an oxymoron to many, but to some, it’s all in the wrist (figuratively speaking). In any company, 80% of sales are produced by 20% of the sales force, and 20% of the sales are produced by 80% of the sales force. In the car industry, the top 5 salesman easily make for 60+% of all monthly sales, however, when you think about the daily life of a salesman, the only difference between a good salesman, and a bad one, are their habits and techniques. They’ll spend the same amount of time at work, they’ll have the same number of customers, but one salesman gets it done, while the other struggles to even understand the process.
Sales production is more than just personal habits, it’s about understanding your surroundings, and adapting your techniques. What’s your environment, and how do you use your environment to your advantage? This is why I say that sales are much more than an afterthought. Failing to properly understand your environment is equally as bad as not asking for the sale. Let’s start with habits, and incorporate these habits into our work environment.
When you think about habits, what you want to understand is that every effective salesman has effective habits. That’s why one of the top selling books on sales is titled, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. Think of these habits as your building blocks, and simply use them everyday. For example, your daily sales habit might consist of the following:
- Arrive at work 15 minutes early
- Check current stock of inventory
- See if there’s an excess stock of specific products. XL shirts, 2013 Ford Mustangs, Brown Coffee Mugs, Pink Running Shoes
- Pick your favorite stock, and match to a customer
- Know which stock is, or will be, the hottest seller
- Review your customer database (of course you must maintain one)
- Respond/compose emails until 10am
- Complete all emails by Noon
- Eat a light lunch and drink plenty of water
- Start phone calls after lunch
- Prospect for new customers starting at 3 until you leave
- Make your to-do list for tomorrow
- Stop by the bank to unload the wheelbarrow full of commission money (my favorite part)
- Go home, relax and forget about work
As you’ve seen in my previous articles, sales has requirements, and salesman have requirements. For example, to sell a lot of product, you must have inventory, and a lot of it. A salesman must also meet requirements for any sales to happen. A good night’s sleep is a great way to start. Don’t just make this an afterthought, make this a requirement.
Now that you see the basic premise, let’s change the environment. In the list of daily habits above, this would be a good list for someone working on the east coast or the midwest, but it might be a disastrous failure for someone working on the west coast. Why? The time zone differences. By the time you get into work on the west coast, the east coast companies are already out to lunch. So you may want to set your morning up to prospect for new customers, then your phone call, and then follow-up with emails. Why? Because, as you’ll discover, people prefer to talk on the phone later in the day, and they always check their emails first thing in the morning. It’s tiny little changes, such as this, that can make the difference between a modest $60,000 income and an obscene $180,000. Obscene is good in this case.
As you can see in each scenario, the list is the same, just a slightly different order. So the point is, don’t just work hard and beat your head against your desk, work smart and you’ll close more sales.
So how do you know what to do? Well much of your sales day is the same. At the start of every day, you must know what’s available to sell (your inventory). At the end of every day, you must create your to-do list. Lunch is the same for everyone, and arriving early, then staying a little late is always a good policy. Seriously, if you were the top salesman in your company and you showed up a little early and stayed a little late most every night, don’t you think the boss would look on you with favor? Of course they would! Respect, praise, great pay, and a relaxing work environment is the dream job for anyone, sales or not.
When it comes to your sales environment, probably the number one concern is your physical location. If you’re working for a national company, it’s crucial to know the physical location of your customers. If you don’t have an assigned territory, do your best to focus on a specific region of the country, and handle the strays as best you can. If you’re working for a local company only, such as repair services, car sales, local marketing, food sales, etc … then stick to the list above as your daily template. Tweak it a little bit for your particular needs, or company products.
Always remember to tell your customer that they are your priority, and that’s why you come to work everyday … for them. This is crucial, regardless of your location, or the product/service you’re selling. It’s little details such as expressing a grateful sentiment, that separates the great from the poor.
As you can see from the list above, habits can be the difference between greatness and mediocrity. So your ultimate goal will be to turn your techniques into your habits. So when I’m talking about techniques, you get a glimpse of what I’m referring to when I say, “tell your customer that they are your priority”. This is a simple, and truthful, technique that will win your customer over. Which brings me to my first technique. What are you going to do to win the customer over? If you can’t win the customer over within the first 15 to 30 seconds, you’re probably not going to make a sale. Here’s what I did as a car salesman, and you should definitely do this as well. Please take this technique because it works, and it’s the truth.
A customer would drive onto the car lot, and get out of their car. Now all customers say the exact same thing when you approach them. “Just lookin”. Now you could take a defeatist attitude and simply state, as almost all car salesman do, “I’ll be right over here if you need anything.” Of course, the customer doesn’t find anything, because the salesman failed the customer within the first 30 seconds. Here’s where your habits come into play.
A good car salesman showed up early, test drove every used car on the lot, I mean every single one of them (!), and then picked out the best one’s. We called this “cherry” picking. These were the cars that we top salesman were going to sell that day. Failure to do so probably meant we weren’t going to get the sale on that car, someone else would. Probably some rookie. So after cherry picking the cars, we knew exactly which way to steer a customer when they drove on the lot. Do you see where this is going? Now when the customer started walking up and down the cars, and we asked, “What can I show you today?” The customer’s response, as always was, “Just lookin”. So we would say, “Well you don’t want that car, you want this one over here.”
Do you see what happened? In one short sentence, the customer is getting good guidance from the salesman. You just won the customer over, and you haven’t even introduced yourself. This same technique works with every customer, in any sales situation, but you have to be ready. You must “know” what is best, not just guess or blow smoke at your customer. Your habits must support your technique, and your techniques must become your habits.
Another must do technique is to ask for more than one sale. Yes! It’s that simple, and it works with any product. It goes like this, “So we have one of my personal favorites (pink shoes, brown coffee mugs, Chevy truck) in your shopping cart, would you also like the black one as well?” It’s that easy! I am stunned at how many times people will say yes, and you just doubled your sales in one short sentence. I can’t stress this enough, this technique works over 50% of the time, and you should be asking 100% of the time. This single question alone can earn you the top salesman of the month, every month. I used to use this as a car salesman, and it worked all the time. You would be shocked at how many times the customer would say, “I don’t need another, but my brother does.”
It’s like shooting fish in a barrel! The customer experience is taken to a whole new level, and you just earned a whole new level of respect from both the customer, and your company. The first time I did this, was during my time selling cars, and I was just kidding! I wasn’t using it as a sales tactic, I was joking. I added this to my techniques immediately after, and I’ve never stopped using it. You make sure you do as well.
Showing you appreciate your customer will always deliver more sales into your pocket. Gaining their trust and confidence is everything. Of course, you have to mean it. Liars are easy to spot, and bullshit smells. So another technique that’s a must is expressing how you can serve your customer better, faster, and more efficiently. Here’s how it works.
Regardless of whether you get a sale or not, with every customer, we want to know what we can do to make their “experience” (pay close attention to this word) more enjoyable, and more effective. The conversation usually goes like this … “I’m sorry we don’t have that model in stock right now, but we’ll get it out to you early next week. Since we didn’t have it in stock, we’ll ship it overnight so you’re not inconvenienced. Since I have your ear, what can we do to make your experience with “Our Company” easier and more enjoyable?” Of course, the response is usually, “I think we’re good.” That’s when you say, “How about I send you an email when we get the new models in?” As you can see, this conversation isn’t about getting a sale right then and there, but engaging the customer, and doing right by them, is always appreciated. Is the customer going to tell you this? No, but in the back of their mind, they just experienced a level of service that they rarely, if ever, receive. This will score big points for you, and that’s the relationship you want.
In every interaction with our customer’s, we need to ask ourselves, “What’s the experience I’m delivering?” If you’re down in the dumps, stressed, frustrated, lacking in product knowledge or inventory, then let’s face it, you’re not delivering a good experience. This is not only a bad technique, but it can develop into a bad habit. The customer experience is everything, and delivering is the only thing that produces results. Think about the news reports you see when Apple rolls out a new iPhone. Customers in line, laughing, smiling, having a good time. Sales associates high fiving customers as they walk through the door, and cameras all over the place. Believe me, it’s Apple that creates this experience, it doesn’t just happen on it’s own. If you could, wouldn’t you like to be a part of the Apple iPhone roll out experience? High def cameras, people cheering and clapping, people laughing and having a good time, and then you get the latest and greatest new iPhone. Now that’s a sales experience! It’s brilliant, and similar techniques can be used in every business.
As you’ve been reading this post, some new ideas should have come to mind. It’s important that you write these down, and try them in your sales approach. Create a plan, not just an outline. Write down some key phrases, and always ask if the customer would like two instead of just one. Earn their trust by steering the customer away from bad cars, shoes, coffee mugs (products), and steer them to your favorites. It takes a little time to establish a successful track record, but focusing your efforts on establishing a customer’s trust and appreciation, you’ll likely see results immediately.
Next week we’re going to look at networking your customers. You probably believe that it’s rude to ask a customer if they have any family or friends that need a car, shoe or coffee mug (your product), but you would be very wrong. How many times have you told your family and friends about your iPhone, TV, or shoes. You do it all the time.
Until next time,