Posted Wednesday, February 2, 2005
Sales calls that you control are what all salespeople want. I am a big believer that questioning is the most important skill for sales professionals. In order to stay in control of your sales calls, whether by phone or in person, you need to be the one asking questions most of the time.
To be the one asking questions most of the time, you have to get to questioning right from the start of your sales calls. This issue's tip is about how to make this transition quickly with finesse, whether you are calling by phone or are in person.
To accomplish this, you will need to eliminate beginning your sales calls with long-winded "presentations" about your company. This may seem counter-intuitive. You may have reasoned that your prospect doesn't know who you are, and needs your introductory "presentation" as background for a sales discussion.
Although this is the mode many of us are used to, the reality is different. If you politely give your customer a valid business reason for you to ask questions from the start, you will find that virtually all of your customers will let you do this. You will then be able to spend most of your valuable time investigating what your customer wants and needs.
OK so here's how you do this. Once your sales calls have started and you have established rapport, you say something like the following:
"Mr. Jones, I am with XYZ Company, and we help companies to [insert your benefit here]. What I would like to do today is ask you a few questions to see if it makes sense for our companies to do business together. How does that sound to you?"
You can modify the above to your own style, but let me first show you what makes this opening work. In reverse order, you are asking permission to ask questions, you are stating that your purpose is to see if it makes sense to do business together, and you are suggesting a common benefit of doing business with your company.
By asking permission to ask questions, you establish the format of your sales calls, and put yourself firmly in charge. In stating that you want to see if it makes sense to do business together, you are saying that this is a mutual decision, and that you aren't just out to sell them something that they may not need. By suggesting a common benefit of doing business with you, you are giving a prospect, who may not know much about you, a reason to continue with the sales call.
Until a prospect has decided that you understand their business problems, a simple benefit of doing business with you suffices to get your sales calls started. If your company is a known quantity in your market or to your prospect, you can skip the benefit completely as the prospect already has a reason and context for the discussion.
There's no need for long-winded openers on your sales calls.
© 1999-2004 Shamus Brown, All Rights Reserved.
About the Author
Shamus Brown is a Professional Sales Coach and former high-tech sales pro who began his career selling for IBM. Shamus has written more than 50 articles on selling and is the creator of the popular Persuasive Selling Skills CD Audio Program. You can read more of Shamus Brown's sales tips at (http://Sales-Tips.industrialEGO.com/) and you can learn more about his persuasive sales skills training at (http://www.Persuasive-Sales-Skills.com/)