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Selling with a System

This article was originally posted on the Indianapolis chapter of the AMA’s website on 3/15/10. Click here to access the article.

One of the advantages of joining the Indianapolis chapter of the American Marketing Association (AMA) is an invitation to free members only meetings. I attended one recently titled “Selling With a System.” The presenter was Aaron Prickel from Lushin & Associates, a sales training and consulting firm.

As the economy has slowed the rules of the game have changed. Everyone at your company is a salesman and we are all required to climb higher on the tree to get to the “low hanging fruit.”

As Aaron put it, our parents have taught us since we were children it is not polite to talk to strangers and also don’t about money. A successful salesperson needs to talk to strangers confidently and also needs to talk about money early in a conversation in a positive way. Without conscious effort we will fall back into old habits.

The sales process is relatively simple; ask, present, quote, close. The successful salesperson needs to understand the type of person they are talking to, what the buyer is consciously or unconsciously trying to do and finally creating a win/win agreement that both parties will feel comfortable about the day after the sale.

People buy from people who are like them. You need to understand your customer and communicate with them in the way they are communicating with you. Aaron breaks most individuals into three categories:

  1. Dominant – this type of individual knows what they want and is results driven. A successful salesperson will ask a few questions then ask for the sale.
  2. Influencer – a happy go lucky person, talks a lot about themselves and what is going on in their life. A successful salesperson will ask questions about the person, listen, then after a period of time ask for permission to move on
  3. Steady Relater – a cautious thinker, detail and process orientated. A successful salesperson will need to be very patient and move the individual forward slowly in small increments.

Understand the 4 step traditional buyer’s process. Buyers will

  1. Lie – they don’t want to lose control. How many times have you entered a store to buy something but told the attendant you were “just looking?”
  2. Steal – information and time. The salesperson usually knows more than the prospect. When the prospect asks questions the salesperson will think the prospect is interested and will usually answer question after question requesting nothing in return.
  3. Lie again – this time in a positive way. How often have you told a salesperson that you think the product they are trying to sell you is great but you need to go home and think about it?
  4. Hide – Many prospects want to say “no” but don’t want to hurt the salespersons feelings. They will give the salesperson unlimited access to their voicemail and will never call him or her back. The result is that the salesperson will keep the prospect on their active list and invest an increasing amount of time trying to contact and sell them. This is time that should be spent cultivating other prospects.

Successful salespersons will implement a personalized form of the following system

  1. Ask – pain is the #1 compelling reason why people make changes. You build credibility by the questions you ask rather than the statements you make. Get your prospect to share their pain. Then tailor your presentation to helping them remove the pain.
  2. Present – but first set expectations up front with the prospect. Outline a mutually beneficial agreement of what is going to happen.
    i. Don’t be afraid to talk about money up front to qualify the prospect. A fair question is how much money do you have? How much are you willing & able to spend on this project?
    ii. Start talking about the decision you will be asking them to make before you give them all of the information. (Remember they want to steal time and information)
    iii. Don’t tell them everything you know. Your expertise is worth something. If your product/service is a commodity all you can compete on is price.
  3. Quote – Price is never the real issue. Don’t be embarrassed about giving them a fair price. Don’t feel that you need to come down in order to get the business.
  4. Close – Ask for the business. Remember your prospects have a need for approval. Make it easy for them to say “no.” This is counter intuitive since you want the business. If they are going to say “no” you want/need to hear it sooner rather than later. According to Aaron one of the biggest problems in the sales world is delayed closings, those customers that will tell you tomorrow that becomes tomorrow etc.

Talk to your prospects the way they are talking to you.

  1. They are visual thinkers if they describe a picture, look up with their eyes (more on eye movement a bit later), and speak quickly. You may want to respond by saying “ I see what you mean.”
  2. They are auditory thinkers if they describe sounds, look straight and have a slower rate of speech. You may want to respond by saying “I hear what you are saying.”
  3. They are kinesthetic thinkers if they describe feelings such as “I can’t put my arms around it” and look down with their eyes. You may want to respond, “Tell me how it make you feel.”

Looking at the eyes can also tell you a bit more. If a person looks to their left after you ask them a question they are most likely thinking logically and if they look to the right they are thinking creatively. Ask someone (preferably a friend) about where they were last night. If they look to the left they are trying to place where they were. If they look to the right they may be trying to create an answer (i.e. they are lying)

A commercial for Lushin & Associates. They help energize or reenergize individuals or groups of salespersons to get more sales in less hours. If you or your company is in need give Aaron a call. I’m sure he would like to help you.

A commercial for the AMA. This outstanding seminar lasted about 90 minutes and had about 40 attendees. Lots of great information was presented that helped me do my job better immediately and lots of great folks were there to network with. What a benefit!!

Until next time – all the best!


Photo credit – I was looking for an “agreement” photo. Thought this was a great one.

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