Ten-year old Billy Johnson gets home from school and has been thinking about an ice cream bar all day. He wants one badly. Unfortunately, the only people home at the Johnson house are Billy’s teenage siblings, Susie and Jake. Billy’s only shot is Susie. She is a less difficult sale than Jake, a constant wielder of oldest sibling authority. As Billy approaches Susie, she quickly anticipates his motive and cuts him off.
“Billy, you can’t have an ice cream bar. It’s too close to dinner and it will ruin your appetite.”
It’s over. Billy’s cooked without a chance to negotiate or be heard? Why? He didn’t reach the ultimate decision-maker. But wait, who’s that walking in the house in good spirits and with a bounce in his step? It’s Dad!
Billy rushes the big guy with a gushing hug and says, “Hey Dad, can I have an ice cream bar?”
Dad’s golden response: “Sure, sport, and I tell you what, get me one too.”
Yee haw, sale closed!
Think of all the time in business you have put in and the energy you’ve exhausted on attempts to cajole client contacts who love to say no but can’t really say yes. It can be a frustrating, morale-beating process. It’s also a less-than-efficient business practice.
Making a connection with the buyer isn’t always easy, but the first question I challenge you with is, “From whom are you requesting an ice cream truck?” (Let’s think big here).
As you peruse the following steps to find the buyer who will say yes, extract what may help you streamline greater results in less time — because time is an entity you never get back.
See yourself as a peer
Are you confident enough to dialogue on equal ground with the big wheels that run the show? You would be shocked at the number of experienced professionals who will say no to themselves in insidious, unconscious ways. To view yourself as a peer, use positive self-talk and manage that internal cynic. How you see yourself, then present yourself, is every bit as important as the service or product you offer.
Do your homework
Feeling like a confident peer versus a hopeful vendor requires preparing accordingly. When it comes to connecting with buyers, you must know:
- Their company
- Their competition
- Your product and service
You’d be surprised at how many service providers don’t know when a company when was founded, what their mission statement says, who their biggest clients are or who they compete against. As far as knowing your own product and service, read on.
Speak in sound bites
Most elevator speeches make the listener want to take the stairs.
When you speak to the buyer, get to the point and remember that less is more. Too many sales professionals ramble on aimlessly about what they’re selling, leaving the buyer confused or annoyed. Decision makers want you to be brief. So, prepare only information that demonstrates how they will benefit and what their return on investment will be. If you don’t have this ready to roll in 15 seconds or less, practice and get feedback.
Ask great questions
Conventional sales jargon used to say “ABC” which stood for “Always Be Closing.” Buyers are more perceptive than ever and most know when it’s really about your benefits, not theirs. Today’s world of collaborative relationship selling, especially with high-level buyers, should be labeled “ABO” for “Always Be Opening.” The questions you ask are the golden nuggets that lead you down the path to “yes.” Be sure your questions are open-ended and tie directly into the objectives the buyer has and how they will know when successful results are realized.
“I can’t change the direction of the world, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.”
– Jimmy Dean
Now go find that buyer!
Joe Takash is the president of Victory Consulting, a Chicago-based executive and organizational development firm. He advises clients on leadership strategies and has helped executives prepare for $3 billion worth of sales presentations. He is a keynote speaker for executive retreats, sales meetings and management conferences and has appeared in numerous media outlets. Learn more at www.victoryconsulting.com.