Under Vince Lombardi, the Green Bay Packers dominated other teams because they were brilliant on the basics: blocking, tackling, kicking, running and catching. Other teams knew what the Packers were going to do, but couldn’t stop them from doing it, because plays were run with such precision.
The same principle applies to sales as well, says sales coach Brian Tracy. The good news:
- All the skills you need to know can be mastered – and you’ve already learned most of them in sales training.
- Everyone in the top 10% of your field started out knowing nothing. But they reached the top because they committed to becoming excellent in the seven key result areas that make for a successful sale.
Begin with a key question
What one skill, if you were absolutely excellent at it, would help you the most to increase your sales and your income?
This is one of the most important questions you will ever ask and answer. Most salespeople are good at most aspects of selling. But your best opportunities for growth lie in improving your weakest skills.
Give yourself a grade of 1 to 10 in each of the following key result areas of selling, with one being lowest and 10 meaning you are highly skilled. You may not be able to accurately assess your weak spots. So get an objective read. Ask your manager for feedback on these seven skills. Ask your best customers. Ask your colleagues.
1. Prospecting. This is defined as your ability to get face to face or ear to ear with qualified prospects who can and will buy your product or service within a reasonable amount of time. Is your pipeline 100% full? Do you have more qualified prospects than you can get to? Give yourself a 10. If your pipeline is half full, give yourself a 5, and so on.
2. Establishing rapport, trust and credibility. People will not buy from you until they like you, trust you and are convinced that you are acting in their best interests. Score a 10 if you are a positive, cheerful, high energy individual with an empathetic personality. A score of 1 means the salesperson gets to see or talk to people for the first time, but those people rarely want to see him or her again.
3. Identifying needs accurately. In initial contacts, you ask questions and listen carefully to see whether or not a genuine need for what you sell exists in the mind and heart of the person you are talking to. A score of 10 means at the end of your questioning process, it is clear to both of you that the prospect can use, benefit and pay for what you are selling. A score of 1 means you don’t have a clear idea of your prospect’s needs after you do your questioning.
4. Presentation. A score of 10 in presenting skills means that you have carefully thought through and prepared and practiced. You move smoothly from one step to the other, showing how the prospect can most benefit. Take top marks if your presentations consistently achieve their objectives. Mark yourself down if, at the end of your presentations, you keep hearing, “Sounds interesting; let me think this over.” That’s a polite way of asking you to leave.
5. Answering objections effectively. Of course, most sales come with objections. All top salespeople think through every objection a qualified prospect is likely to give them and developed powerful, practical and persuasive answers. You earn a 10 in answering objections if your responses are so clear and focused that every objection is answered to the buyer’s satisfaction and doesn’t recur.
6. Closing the sale. A score of 10 in closing means you have thought through how to ask for the order in a variety of ways. You approach “the close” with confidence, because you’ve been closing all along. You encounter no surprises when you ask the buyer for a decision.
7. Re-sales and referrals. To move into the top 10% of your field, you must develop the skill of generating re-sales and referrals. The highest paid salespeople – in every field – have become artists at getting their customers to buy from them again and again, and getting qualified referrals from satisfied customers.
Low scores = opportunities
Wherever you have given yourself the lowest score is also your greatest opportunity for rapid improvement in your sales results. No matter what the weakness, remember that all sales skills can be learned and honed. As you master this skill, your success rate can only improve.
photo credit: jimbowen0306
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