CEO and Business Coaching
Professional Selling Skills Can Help You Uncover Vital Clues to Close a Sale
Much has been written about sales, and my approach to this subject has a unique perspective. We have all experienced the “convincing” sales style when a salesperson attempts to overpower objections rather than listen and address them in a way that resonates with the prospect. This approach can quickly turn a potential transaction into a cold dead end.
Professional selling skills will transform the way you think and go about developing sales.
When I engage in a sales situation, I accept the fact that this person may or may not decide to do business with me. This attitude tends to free up the conversation in powerful ways. For example, I won’t unduly pressure the person. In addition, instead of “convincing the buyer,” I will engage them in a conversation style for “possibility and opportunity,” which removes any anxiety that the potential buyer may have.
My intention is always to learn as much as possible about the problem before suggesting possible solutions.
“Yes,” “No,” “Not Now” and Counteroffer
Professional salespeople recognize four possible outcomes for any sales conversation: “yes,” “no,” “not now,” and the possibility of a “counteroffer.” With this understanding, participants can lay the groundwork for a complete awareness of the situation with no qualms about each other’s intentions.
A “not now” prospect is not prepared to move forward yet isn’t averse to making a purchase; in other words, they are undecided. Often, the prospect holds back because an important piece of information—something critical to them—is missing. If we are not careful, this critical element could remain a secret unless we uncover the details.
More than helping differentiate between “no” and “not now,” this style also creates opportunities to provide better customer service and to establish a stronger relationship at the outset.
An Example for Health Care Practitioners
Imagine that you are the owner of a physiotherapy clinic. In addition to rehabilitation treatments, your clinic offers registered massage therapy sessions and a variety of joint braces. Your clinic even sells quality knee braces at the front counter.
The therapist has tutored a patient how to do strengthening exercises at home and recommends a knee brace to support her as she returns to a routine of walking and jogging. At the end of the first treatment, the patient pauses at the reception area while the therapist processes the payment. The therapist offers to include a knee brace, but the client declines.
Is this “no” or “not now”?
The brace was recommended by a trusted expert, is conveniently available, and is sure to improve her quality of life. Why would this patient hold back from purchasing a tool to support her recovery?
Using expert communication and professional selling skills you develop a conversation style that allows for “possibility and opportunity”. The therapist discovers that the patient wants to compare prices of similar braces in the pharmacy chain store down the street before making a decision.
Getting Answers: The Salesperson as Client Advocate
Rather than just conceding the point and allowing the client to walk out the door, the therapist remains engaged. With the client’s permission, the therapist calls the pharmacy to inquire about the different brands of braces they carry. Because the therapist is familiar with a range of products, he understands the client’s needs best and can candidly advise the client where she’ll get the most value. Once the therapist understands that value is what motivates his patient, the patient and the therapist can now have a real conversation about possibility and opportunity.
The therapist can also modify his offer and add value for the client by:
- Discounting a product to meet the drug chain pricing;
- Adding a pro bono future therapy session; or
- Providing the patient with a gift coupon for a future massage treatment.
If successful, this exchange can result in winning over the client as a long-term patient and perhaps even gaining referrals for future business. The therapist has certainly recouped the value of this discount for the clinic.
Uncovering the Missing Information
Often, when a client says “no,” he or she may simply be reacting to the fact that, at the moment, there isn’t enough information to say “yes.”
By identifying the missing information, the salesperson might be able to transition the prospect from “no” to “not now,” or even from “not now” to “yes.”
Let’s face it. You talk to a lot of people who say, “That’s interesting but not now.” Do you benignly nod your head and move on to the next prospect or do you use your professional selling skills to turn the situation around by going a couple of step further ?
The Art of the Follow-Up
“Not now” is sometimes a polite way of saying “no” because the client is genuinely not interested. In sales conversations for “possibility and opportunity,” it is always prudent and appropriate to uncover the real motivator. Simply thinking that a person isn’t interested and moving on is inefficient and not a good use of your time. Sometimes “not now” is the answer and, if so, what are your best next steps for a follow-up? Permissions are critical for moving forward.
“Would you object if I were to follow up with you?”
By asking this one easy question, you refine your pipeline by driving good prospects your way and driving out bad prospects. It may seem as if asking this question would have a small effect, but “avalanches are made of snowflakes.” Keep the snowball rolling!
You can always check back after a week; however, it’s best to find a window of time when the prospect will be open to another call. Continuing with our style of using a sales conversation for “possibility and opportunity,” find out if there’s a better time to call back. This simple step will make your “not now” responses more valuable.
Teaching your sales team professional selling skills empowers them to handle conversations for “possibility and opportunity” which can make all the difference in getting the sale or conceding it because you did not know how to go the extra mile.
For more information on acquiring new business skills for your team, please contact me for a free introductory coaching session.