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Ask Me Anything The Beginner's guide to Sales + AMA

Discussion in 'Advertising, Marketing, Social Media' started by Scot, Jan 11, 2017.

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  1. Scot
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    Scot Ductus Exemplo Read The Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    Over the past few weeks, I've been very fortunate to have some great conversations with fellow forum members about the topic of sales. A few people here reached out to me for advice on sales as they know my Slowlane job is in sales. I wanted to take a little bit of time to throw together a Beginner's Guide to sales for people who have never had any significant experience. Also, I'll open this up to an AMA on sales techniques and approaches.

    Disclaimer:
    I am not claiming to be THE expert in sales and have every answer, but I will do my best to answer any questions to the best of my knowledge and experience. I have spent the past 5 years working in the Pharmaceutical industry in field sales. In the past year I was given a secondary position as a field trainer, responsible for the entire Southeast US. I train new hires, managers, as well as tenured reps. I also have about 5 years experience in retail commission sales prior to this.

    Sales is one of the most valuable and important skills you can have
    There it is, my polarizing statement. It has been said by entrepreneurs more successful than I, that sales is one of the most important functions and skills you can have to run your business. I will cite both Rich Dad, Poor Dad, as well as Ready, Fire, Aim as my back up. Of course, if you're building an SaaS platform, a website or app, you need the technical and design skills to create the product, but what next? You're a great author and want to publish your book, you know this has Pulitzer written all over it. Ok, you launch to crickets. Why? Because its the New York Times best SELLER list, not best Author list.

    At the end of the day, you need to get your product to people, business, enterprise, who ever you're selling to and they need to make the decision to buy. At the end of the day, that is the foundation of every business. Yes, you need to provide value and that alone will lead to some movement, but even the most valuable products and services need sales to drive business.


    How to start selling

    When you boil it down to its bare roots, sales is a conversation. This conversation can either happen via email, in person, over the phone, through a video presentation, written copy or advertising. Whether your product needs to have some or all of these elements to drive sales is up to you as an entrepreneur. The most important factor is to start.

    Cold Calling: We have some great fastlaners here that excel and thrive in the cold calling world. Cold Calling is one of the quickest ways to get over your fear of rejection. If you’re running a Cold Calling campaign, expect to be told no 1,000’s of times. After that first 100 times, it suddenly wont matter and you will not fear it.


    In person sales: Whether you are doing door to door sales, following up warm leads, or networking at events, this is my favorite form of sales. Lots of factors come into play here: Body language, tone, and instant feedback. Body language plays a big role in conversation, so if this is a week point, study up on it. I have seen several sales pitches crash and burn because a rep did not interpret the customer’s body language.


    Online Sales: Get your landing page and copy up and running! There’s no excuse to avoid this type of sales. Copywriting is only a form of sales. A great tool to have is an FAQ. FAQ’s aren’t there to answer dumb questions, they’re there to overcome objections. After you’ve spoken with enough customers, you should know what objections they have over your product, answer them in your FAQ! This will already cover all their fears.


    The Pitch

    I am a fan of being straight to the point and being succinct. People have very short attention spans and if you want to tell your life story, your product’s life story, and every feature and benefit (that they may or may not want), you’re going to watch their eyes glaze over. You never want to talk for more than 30 seconds, you’ll lose them after this.

    Control the conversation. I get it, you’re excited, you love your product, they should too, right? This is a problem I routinely have and have to be hyper focused on during a sales call. I want to tell you EVERYTHING. You should let your customers do the 75% of the talking. I’m going to steal a line from my old employer Verizon. Earn the Right. At the end of your pitch, you need to earn the right to close the sale. How? Your recommendation needs to have a foundation to stand on and you build that foundation one brick at a time by LISTENING to your customer.

    Ask questions. This is one of the most important parts of sales and often over looked. Play stupid, stroke their egos. “Hey Mr Smith, you’re obviously the expert on widgets, can you tell me what some of the common problems you run into when installing widgets?” You’ll get their life story about widgets. And if you pick up on the conversation, you’ll find opportunities to tie your sale back into. “Suzy, what do you typically look for when buying a new back pack?” Suzy says, “Well I use my packs primarily for hiking, so I need them to be comfortable. A lot of packs are comfortable, but most don’t focus on lower back support, and the ones that do are always so boring and bland” Here’s what the final pitch looks like just from that sentence, “Well Suzy, I know you need a great pack to take on your next hike, here’s why I think the Hiker 5000 is the best option for you. You said that comfort is your number one priority, these cushions here feel great after those 20 miles, plus they’re breathable too. Also, we focus on back support which you said is important too. Oh, and did I forget to mention, we have a fully customizable pattern, no more bland packs for you!”


    Objections

    You will not close every sale, but you can do your best to find out why they wont buy. Every person has objections when looking at a product or service. The problem is, many people won’t tell you. Worse off, they use what’s called a “smoke screen”. Smoke screens are generic objections like “Oh I don’t need a new one right now” or “I’d buy it if it wasn’t so expensive”. What you’re seeing here is that you did not sell them on the benefits well enough.


    An easy way to overcome these objections is to probe deeper. My favorite probe is, “Mr Smith, lets pretend that cost isn’t a factor right now, what else would hold you back from XYZ?” Take their objection off the table and pretend like it doesn’t exist. A lot of times this is enough to get the real reason out. You need to follow the age old WIIFM, whats in it for me. Customers need to know how this benefits them. And many times you need to show them the benefits outweigh their worries of cost, difficulty, interruption, or complacency.


    Over time you will naturally see objections surface during your sales pitches if you’re doing face to face, email or phone marketing. The best course is to follow the above guidance, to dig deeper into the conversation, ask questions and get these out of the way early.


    Coffee is for Closers

    Ok, great, you survived the sales pitch, now its time to get their money! Not so fast. The close is still a very delicate part of the sale that can make or break you. Here are my favorite types of closing techniques.

    Presumptive Close: Proceed as if you already got the yes. This can look something like “I’m glad you like the Hiker 5000 Suzy, lets get this bad boy ready for hiking season. What’s a good shipping address” This gets the buyer in the mindset that they’re ready to buy. But be warned, if your pitch was not solid or you didn’t overcome all objections, you will get some bad feedback on this.


    Soft Close: Ask permission here. “Mr Smith, we’ve talked about how our new ABC widget will improve your business, would you like to order 20 for next week?” It’s a passive type closing, but you’re asking permission. This one works well, if you use the next type of close early on.

    Trial closes: These will help you get to that soft close above. Throughout the conversation throw in little questions like “Does that sound good to you?” Always use yes or no questions. “Does this sound like it will be a benefit to your company?” If you get yes, you move on one step closer to the soft close. If you get a no, circle back and ask why, this is an objection moment.


    Hard close: This is only to be used when proper rapport is established. Never use this close on a first time sales pitch. This is your “sympathy close” or “scratch my back, Ill scratch yours” close. “Mr Smith, you’ve been a great customer to us over the years, but I’ve noticed you haven’t ordered any widgets since November, lets place an order for you with a 20% discount” or “John, this month has been really rough for us and partner is breathing down my neck, could you do us a favor and order 5 more next week?” It works, but do NOT abuse this or use it without rapport.


    This enough for now, I’ll include some more sales techniques over the next few days. I hope this can help some of you.
     
  2. juan917
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    Always agree / be agreeable. Don't say "no"
     
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  3. Scot
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    Definitely. I could go on for about four hours with the fine nuances and semantics when it comes to negative and positive words in conversation. Little things you say can heavily influence a persons attitude.
     
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  4. MidwestLandlord
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    MidwestLandlord Platinum Contributor Read The Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    Please do add more!

    Good stuff.
     
  5. Scot
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    Definitely will. I had a great conversation with another forum member, I'll have to dig through it and repost some on here.
     
  6. Argue
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    Wealth of information here. Very good stuff. Gonna read/study frequently.
     
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  7. Scot
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    Quick Tip
    I use this all the time, at least once a day. Do a dress rehearsal of your sales call. If you're waiting for your appointment or you're sitting there staring at the phone and psyching yourself out, go over it in your head.

    I carry a notebook with me and will write down key bullet points I want to make during my call. I do research ahead of time, called a pre-call plan. I look at any past business from the target. For another sales gig I'm working on outside of pharma I researched his business online, checked his website for clues.

    Have a plan and a script. Sit there, take a deep breath, and have a conversation aloud if possible, in your head if you're in public. Run through potential objections so you're not surprised if they come up.

    Most importantly, rehearse your opening line or statement at least 10 times. The worst thing you can do is stumble and stutter the first thing out of your mouth.

    Then, suck it up and pull the trigger. You lose every sale you don't try.
     
  8. PrimeLF
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    I can't quite remember the post I saw this in, but I thought it was excellent advice!
    "Don't be the one to say no"
    Obviously, it might not work for all business types, but it helps your customers not be offended if you need to refuse or reschedule for some reason and it makes it feel as if it was their choice to refuse rather than yours.
     
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  9. Scot
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    If you need to say no or not say yes and delay, blame it on someone else. "I'll have to check those numbers with my partner first" or "while I agree that's a good deal, unfortunately corporate won't let us pull the trigger on that" Then you can always counter offer and make yourself out to be the hero. It's a common tactic for car sales, it's cheesy but it works "my boss didn't want to let this car go for less than $25,000 but I talked him down to $24,500 for you"
     
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  10. Scot
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    Quick Tip - Gate Keepers and Ice Breakers

    Getting past a receptionist or front desk, especially when doing cold calling is always a journey. Here's how I do it.

    Research: Get the name of the person who calls the shots. Instead of asking for Mr Smith, ask for John. Already know something about their business, bring it up in conversation, it shows more credibility.

    Ask for help: People always want to help. I always play up the new guy card the first 6 months in a new territory. Act lost and ask for their help, apologize that you "don't know the rules around here" Pity goes a long way, milk it.

    The Follow Up: You're not there for a sales call, you're following up. "Good morning, I'm just here to follow up with Mr Smith, we talked at an event/over the phone/whatever last week. I wanted to check up on how things were going with his service/sale" Odds are, they're not going to communicate that to the target, they'll just pass you along.

    Ice Breakers: Make it all about them. People LOVE talking about themselves. If you've ever had a PM with me, what's the first question I always ask? "How's business going?" People will open up and tell you all the good, and the bad. Capitalize on that. Another one I learned lately I like is "Dr, if you weren't a doctor, what would you want to do?" You'll get some crazy answers, but they're open like a flower.

    And my favorite Gate Keeper trick...
    Pretend like you know what you're doing. This works great for face to face sales (and for pretty much anything). If you act like you belong there, people just assume you do. Big office building with a reception desk? Just walk past it and go to where you think your target is. Act confident like you belong there. I do this all the time at hospitals and offices with rules against reps. The staff want to see me, but the receptionists take their job too seriously. I just walk through the door and go talk to the staff, no ones stopped me yet. If you get caught, feign ignorance.

    Disclaimer. Huge disclaimer. Do NOT break any laws or trespass with this last one. This will NOT work in places with actual security. This will only work in places that are open to the public.
     
  11. MidwestLandlord
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    Haha, you did exactly that with me, and I responded with good and bad. (I think I put some good in there) I love talking shop, so yeah...I opened up when you asked that.

    Interesting. Good stuff @Scot

    I have a lot to learn with sales.
     
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  12. Andy Black
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    I use this all the time. No-one asks a business owner how business is going, and if they are asked, no-one hangs around to hear the answer.

    In the forum my PM will be "How're things going?" (recognising not everyone has a business).


    Now... 75% of them doing the talking? I'm screwed...
     
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  13. Scot
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    It's a great opener! People want to know they're cared about and they love talking about themselves.

    And yeah, I agree Andy, I have this problem all the time. I'm a salesman, I want to talk. But I have to pump the brakes and let them talk or I'll miss some valuable Intel.
     
  14. AndrewNC
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    Thanks for the AMA!

    Let's say my target customer is a business owner who does $500,000 per year or more in revenue.

    The service I offer is a $3,000-$5,000 12-week program which eliminates stress, allows them to know exactly what steps to take next, and get rid of the mental/emotional struggle of owning a business. 1 call per week for 12 weeks.

    So far, I sell the service through the internet slowly building rapport (book -> magazine -> email newsletter -> etc.)

    Do you feel sales in this price range are commonly closed in one call over the phone? Or should the sales process be stretched out?

    Thanks again!
     
  15. Scot
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    That's a difficult one. If you were selling a hard program that could show documented sales inscrease or revenue increase, you could potentially close with 1 call from a warm lead.

    When it comes to an intangible, that's a difficult sale from 1 call.

    If you were able to target higher value executives with face to face I could think of a few avenues to take there.

    Personally I would take a "fremium" approach here. If you get a warm lead, follow up with a call, use my steps to get past the gate keeper. Ask him about the stresses he deals with at work. The "how's business?" Has a great chance to open up those answers. At that point offer him a free copy of the book or magazine to see if he's interested in learning more.

    Get the follow up once they've read it, then close.

    Hope that gives you some help.
     
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  16. AndrewNC
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    Thanks!

    Quick follow-up on that idea. I could do a 5-10 minute call to have them experience an immediate benefit of the stress-reduction, and then talk about how that's one tool for about 100 different (major benefit-oriented) things. Then hand them a book showing them how to do some of them..

    Then follow up with a more hard close in 3 days where I offer my services so they won't have to learn how to do all the techniques themesvles.
     
  17. Scot
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    Exactly! When you run them through a technique, the intangible becomes tangible. Once you've got a concrete product to offer them, it's much easier.

    The follow up is such an important tool. And don't be afraid to be persistent either.
     
  18. ApparentHorizon
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    When a power-point or script isn't available, have you experienced instances where you weren't concise?
     
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  19. Scot
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    Definitely. As noted before, I have the gift of gab, I can get carried away. I always make a point to take a deep breath after a good chunk of talking to evaluate where I am in the conversation and think about it I've let them talk enough.

    This is why rehearsing before hand can help a lot. It helps you to summarize your key points. It's kind of like when you wrote essays in school, you want to bullet point out a map so you have a plan to follow in your head.
     
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    That's a really good point: you should have the presentation already laid out in your head.

    It's not that you don't have the material in front of you, it's that it hasn't been internalized yet.

    Paint a mental image...record a mental video/audio.

    Makes sense - Thanks!
     
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  21. Scot
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    I had a call I did today for my side gig, before I dialed the number I had 4 bullet points written out on a notepad. I made sure to navigate the conversation to each point.

    5 P's. Proper planning prevents poor performance.
     
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  22. ApparentHorizon
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    Right, having something visible in front of you makes it so much easier. Unlike school, no one cares if you're "cheating" and have notes in front of you. It actually helps your client understand your message.

    However, you never know when you're giving a surprise pitch.

    I sometimes carry an index card in my wallet with benefits/features presentation flow. To the client it looks like the info is for them to take home, b/c I "ran out" of business cards that day.
     
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  23. Scot
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    Not a bad idea!
     
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    Great thread thanks for creating it. Bookmarked.

    I did sales for about 3 years or so, phone and live appts. VERY eye opening experience!!

    I learned about hot streaks and cold streaks.

    When you're hot you can't miss and it's the most fun and easiest money ever!

    When you're cold..................not so much.

    A must for entrepreneurs to get some kind of sales experience.
     
  25. Scot
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    Cold streaks suck the life out of you. Your mood is everything when it comes to sales. Your customers are like wolves, they can smell the fear haha

    I had a great boss at my retail job that gave me this quote "positive thoughts lead to positive results" (@AndrewNC maybe she was on to something?) At the time, I shrugged it off. But one day I decided to force myself to be positive and enthusiastic. Sales rolled in.

    You have to create your own winning streaks. The more excited about your product, the more excited your prospects will be too.

    If I try and sell you a car and I seam unsure or bored with it, do you want that car? Nope.
     
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