Always Be Closing? How new strategies are changing the face of sales.
Always Be Closing?
How new strategies are changing the face of sales.
Maybe you didn’t know this, but for fifteen years, my background had been in recruiting and account management within the staffing industry. Up until five years ago, it wasn’t up to me to close the deals. I left that to the talented sales men and women who spent their days running down cold-call lists and meeting with clients. My job was maintaining that relationship after the hard work of signing the client was done.
I believed, like I think most people do, the myth that salespeople are born. Either you have that innate ability to sell anything to anyone, or you do not. With that kind of mentality, who would be surprised to see that Sales ranks number three in this year’s Manpower’s top ten list of hardest jobs to fill?
The thing is, with some training, hard work, and maybe more than a little tenacity, any one of us can be successful in sales. There are plenty of resources available for those looking to improve their pitches and marketing tactics.
One of the first sales books I had ever picked up, probably on one of the discount shelves at Chapters, was The Art of the Deal. It was an interesting read at the time, and certainly piqued my interest in learning more about sales. The author certainly seems to have closed his most surprising deal, with some flair, which will prove to be an interesting case study in the future.
Today’s market needs salespeople with a completely different attitude and approach. We live in an information economy. Every potential client, and even current clients, have access to all the information that used to be the secret ingredient to a salesperson’s leverage. Now, a client can pick up the phone armed with spreadsheets, projections, and ratings to leverage their own terms.
So, where are the best places to find help?
With all that was available, I tended to draw inspiration from some of the classics. However, despite my best effort, nobody took me seriously when I tried to channel Alec Baldwin and his iconic speech. Maybe this was for the best, but who doesn’t want a set of steak knives? It seemed as though it was time to call in for help.
Enter Tom Kaufman, CEO of TK Enterprises and cold-calling master. With over 40 years of sales and cold-calling experience, from selling IBM computers in the 80s to teaching business at Centennial College to TK Enterprises, he has had time to build his philosophy.
After my initial sit down with Tom in 2013, I began to understand that a good salesperson will listen to understand the problem, and offer customized solutions. The best salespeople make plans for the long term and offer growth strategies. The job of the sales person is to be constantly networking and reaching out, providing solutions to customers.
His philosophy in business is that a good sales technique is never about trying to make the close, it is about filling the client’s need. Each prospective client has a unique problem that needs solving. If you do not figure out their unique solution, someone else will.
I am going to let you in on the million-dollar sales-secret on how to best figure out a client’s need: do more listening than talking. The best salespeople are expert listeners. If you listen long enough, people will tell you what they want or need, and will sell themselves on it.
The caveat to this, though, is we cannot rely on things like auto dialers and mass email spam to reach our prospects. Those days are long over. We have new laws to prevent those dinner time interruptions. More importantly, though, we know these don’t work. We can use our time much more wisely with just a little research.
Now with almost 20 years experience in the staffing industry and as I move forward with running my own staffing company, I realize my business depends on my, and my team’s, ability to become effective salespeople. But it is so much more than bringing in that new client or landing that next deal. The candidates we bring in to fill the jobs are also our clients and we are their ambassadors. Hanging in the balance is that delicate mix of leadership, selling, and trust.
Over the years, the sales industry has gotten itself a bad rap. There are enough Herb Tarleks and men from downtown in the world to make a hard job harder for those of us who are in it honestly.
So let’s talk about trust and relationship.
No one is going to buy our solution if no one trusts us. Trust in any relationship is earned, and it’s no different with clients. It boils down to being honest and forthright.
Think of it this way, we can be the necessary evil that a client has to navigate or we can be their person that they call when they need some expertise.
Often, we come up against a question we simply do not have the answer to. Those are the times we get to be honest and tell the customer we will come back with a better, and more researched answer. Of course, it is critical that we have done our homework and are educated on the needs of our customers, but we are not internet search engines with all the answers all the time.
And it’s the honest answers that we need to give. Sooner or later, the truth will come out. Is it really worth it in the long run, to gain that customer, only to lose them later? What kind of collateral damage will there be when that customer leaves with that sour taste. How many other customers will you lose for that.
Maybe one of the biggest things to my success in sales, has been my sheer persistence. Richard Pett, my former boss and mentor, engraved this quality in me in the early years. Nothing is ever going to get more sales than just making those phone calls and never stopping. Persistence and tenacity is really the name of the game here. Don’t let yourself be disappointed or demoralized by hearing bad news.
I am sure you have been there, working through a cold-call list that is just full of bad leads. People who are hostile or rude who want nothing to do with what anyone is selling. We have all have these days and they are not fun, but we cannot let those times slow us down.
Don’t believe me?
I believe in a little thing called the LOA. No, not that one, this one; Jim Rohn’s Law of averages. You will find your ratio, that rate of success to failures, but only if you are willing to make the effort. It’s math and it’s consistent.
Here is another thing to consider, how much do you want to do business with a bad client? We often get caught up in the belief that we need to win and keep every client, but sometimes, we are better off without that high cost customer. Consider them having done you a favour by being rude before the contract was signed.
Tenacity. It ain’t easy. But I defy you to find any successful person who has not struggled and been forced to keep going.
Here’s the take-away for today; being successful in sales requires the same, constant self-improvement of any other profession. In business, software development, or medicine, we are always working to learn and develop new skills. Sales is no different.
Now, go forth and work the phones, listen carefully, and be successful. But, most importantly, remember to ask for the help when you need it.
#Honest #Reliable #Fun