In college we, all of us, took many many courses that frankly were just a complete waste of time. At some point, you had to stop and ask yourself, “What am I doing?” “How is sitting in a 2nd level literature class going to make me a better engineer?” You know what I’m talking about here. It was a “required” course. Required?!? Looking back on it, you can clearly see how the University you attended was just sticking it to you for more tuition, but you had to do it. Some of you stuck with it, and others saw the light, and moved onto more profitable ventures in your life.
These crucial decisions in your higher education came at a price for you personally, but for some, really not very many, it truly paid off. You actually work in the field you studied, and you make a good living at it. However, as studies have shown, most of you don’t use your higher education, and now that 20 years have passed, you never will.
These agonizing decisions came to all of us at some point in time. What we chose to do, literally made us, or broke us. In most cases, it broke us. The huge salaries and glorious lifestyle we would have after college, never came to be. So what happened? Where did we go wrong? The answer is complicated, frustrating, difficult to swallow, and for most of us, it caused serious damage to our pride.
Looking back, because hindsight is always 20-20, we can see the obvious politics we had to endure from the university. The thousands and thousands of dollars spent on an education that just wouldn’t do much for most of us. After all, look at your life today. Are you using your higher education? A brief look around on LinkedIn and you’ll soon discover that answer is clearly “NO”!
So what does all this have to do with sales? The answer is found in the third step of the sales process, overcoming objections. The third step of the sales process separates the men from the boys and the women from the girls. Why? Because you will be making tough decisions that will impact your sales success. There’s no doubt that just getting to this point can be difficult, but if you don’t understand what your customer is seeking, then you’re never going to overcome their objections.
Just like the questions you faced in college, you’re going to have tough questions that will face you during this third sales step. You’re going to have to make a commitment to the customer, or cut them loose. Even the largest organizations make huge mistakes that can destroy their business. Let’s take a hospital for an example. If you look around the country today, we see one hospital after another closing down. How can this be when the baby boomers are turning 70?!? A huge percentage of our population is in need of medical care, but hospitals are closing! That doesn’t make sense at all.
Let’s step back and look at the big picture. A hospital board is only as good as it’s people. Get the wrong people in, and the hospitals going to close. Now they can make many, many mistakes along the way, but one mistake they can’t make, is lack of patient care. We often hear the phrase, “People before profits.” While this is true, there’s another saying that you won’t hear anyone say, except me, “Without profits, no people.” You can forget about having a hospital if there’s no profit. You can forget about caring for people, if there’s no profit. Do you see how easy it can be to make huge mistakes, while believing you’re doing what’s right?
A hospital board can believe all they want that what they’re doing is right and just, but if there’s no profit, then there’s no hospital. Is this what you’re facing when trying to sell a hospital a $2 million dollar surgical robot? Of course you are. A hospital board is never going to call up a company out of the blue and put in an order for a $2 million dollar robot. The salesman is going to have to sell them one. The salesman will be required to steer the conversation in the right direction, to overcome the hospitals objection to the price of the robot. Do you see how complicated, and frustrating, this can get? They never taught any of this in college.
This is why “qualifying”, the second step, is so important. Understanding the obstacles (objections) the customer is going to throw your way, is crucial to overcoming their concerns. If a hospital “wants” to buy a multi-million dollar piece of equipment, but the hospital administrators can’t raise the money, then how will you overcome this obstacle? The answer will be in the qualifying conversations. If you never ask, “Where do you see your hospital in the near future?” “What goals are you trying to achieve?” “How many patients are you serving?” Of course, we follow this up with the closed end questions that get us the raw data we need.
These qualifying questions will help guide you through the inevitable objections you will be facing. When you have the raw numbers, you can do the math for your customer. When you understand the future path of the hospital, then you can guide the conversation in your favor. When the hospital discloses their goals, then you can show them how to achieve these goals. Every objection can be steered in your favor, and every sale occurs only when you overcome objections.
Profits are a good thing. Huge profits are a great thing. The more money good companies make, the better our world becomes. When you consider that many college grads today are steering their careers in the direction of “non-profits”, you can see that the culture in our universities is taking a dramatic shift in the wrong direction. After all, a “non-profit” gets their money from “for-profit” companies. There is no endless money stream with an infinite pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. All non-profits exist, because a salesman in a for-profit company engineered a sale.
Do your salesman know this? Do you know this? The culture of your company, the guidance of your leaders, will make or break your company. It’s vital you hire the right sales people, to do your work in today’s economy, with a clear understanding of the true nature of business. It’s bad enough the culture is against profits, but that’s a reality you can manage as long as you recognize it.
Is it any wonder why I made over a million dollars selling the Sticky Pod car camera mounts? I steered customers in the right direction, my direction, and that put my career in an elite class. Not many can say they’ve made over a million dollars off a product they invented, patented, marketed and retailed themselves. It’s not an accident, or a stroke of luck. I engineered my sales, and demonstrated to my customers that my product was the solution to their problems.
Next week I cover the most important question you “must” ask, and most do not, in order to make a sale. It’s the most important step in the sales process.
See you next week.