All salespeople want is prospects to say yes, sign the dotted line and shake hands. However, not all realise that persuading a prospect to buy from you is an art form in itself. Most salespeople have trouble getting prospects to say yes in that pivotal moment of “are you ready to commit?”. For example, if it’s too rushed, they equate this with being pushy and obnoxious. On the other hand, if you’re too slow- even worse- leave them to control the conversation; they’re not going to say yes to anything. For this reason, this short article will explore how to get prospects to say yes by using these six steps below.
1. Know your customer
If you want your potential customer to pay attention to what you say, you have to be willing to listen to him first. That doesn’t mean just giving your prospect a time to speak, but actively listening to what they have to say.
Too many sales professionals think they need to do all of the talking when meeting with prospects. They tell them everything about their product or service.
This leads to the disastrous mistake of the salesperson dominating the conversation, ultimately leaving little time for the prospect to share anything about themselves. Or even what they’re looking for! The result is usually the salesperson talking themselves out of the sale.
Instead, sale professionals need to ask more questions. Ask the prospect what they’re looking for, what they’ve tried before? What worked, what didn’t work? What is the outcome you’re trying to achieve?
2. Know your product
People don’t buy features; they buy benefits.
What’s the difference? Well, Features answer the question, “what is it?” and benefits answer the question, “what’s in it for me?”.
Therefore, you need to know your product inside and out to focus on benefits that directly relate to specific buyer needs.
You can practice using bridge statements to connect a statement of features with a statement of benefits, for example, “We offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee which means there’s no risk.”
Knowing everything about your product will ultimately simplify and shorten the buying process. Also, it would be best to consider that customers want to know how your product has gone through rigorous testing and modifications because performance data and specifications are essential to most prospects.
3. Make conversation, not pitches
Similar to step one, it is also useful to remember you’re having a conversation, not trying to push a pitch on them! Therefore, check in with the prospect during your presentation by asking two questions.
The first is, “Do you see how this can help businesses?” So, for example, I will often say in my presentation: “Our training includes innovative activities and role-plays so that sales teams practise building stronger relationships with customers. Do you see how this could help businesses?”
Naturally, the answer is “yes”, and that’s perfect because you want your prospects to get used to saying yes. This tactic reinforces the value of your offer and makes it more likely they’ll say yes when you ask for the sale. By asking this, you’re doing a trial close.
Here is what I would say: “You know that I’ve helped clients increase their enrolment percentage from 20 per cent to 50 per cent, which means our solutions have proven to help them meet the budget. Do you see how this could help your business?”
4. Be ready for objections
It’s useful to try to anticipate some common objections. Price is by far the most common objection across most industries. So, rather than be surprised or caught off guard with this objection, spend some time thinking about your response to it.
How will you handle it when a prospect objects to the price of your product or service? How will you respond? You may find it useful to frame your response such that he ends up saying “yes”. Answer the objection with your response starting with “Isn’t it true that…”. Sometimes, even sales managers who see the value of what I offer will tell me: “I’d like to continue training my team internally for a while.”
I will often respond by asking: “Isn’t it true that you’ve been training your team internally for some time now, and they still have these challenges?” I’ll continue by asking: “Since you have limited time and must meet your budget, wouldn’t you agree that it would be a more effective use of your time to engage us to conduct training, so you can focus on what you do best, which is strategic planning and management?”
Brainstorm the most common objections that you have experienced and anticipate hearing during your presentation and spend some time writing your answers to them. Frame your answers positively with a response starting with “Isn’t it true that…?” or “Wouldn’t you agree that…?”
5. Follow Up
Salespeople have to be persistent by nature; following up, checking in, and making constant contact with prospects is the name of the game. Unfortunately, you can’t just sit back and wait for a prospect to call you up and make an offer after an initial meeting. Remember, persistence is key, so you need to be constantly following up. It doesn’t have to be complicated either; pick up the phone and send a quick email, message or phone call to your prospect with comments like “When can we get started?” or “Shall I send you the paperwork to review?”.
(Note: This article was originally published in The Straits Times (23 July 2012) and adapted from the book “The SOHO Solution: 21 Selling Strategies For Growing Your Small Business” by Tom Abbott)