The Power of Questions, and Other Useful Sales Tips
As a part of an Overture sales meeting in the summer of 2012, we had the speaker Marty Clarke (http://www.martyclarke.com/) address the team with some humorous thoughts on the sales process. Marty’s talk was aimed at senior salespeople, so it was beyond the basics of ABC (always be closing). I found his material to be very interesting and useful. This blog describes some of his points.
- There are three main values propositions that the sales person is presenting: himself, the company and the product offering. The first two are more important than the third.
- The customer should be talking, not you. After he makes a statement, ask him “How do you mean?” to solicit more details.
- Customer questions are a “buy sign”. When you get one, answer it, and then politely follow up with “Why do you ask?” The response will give you valuable insight into their thoughts.
- Ask a customer the following question: “If you looked back on this deal as the homerun for this year because of A, B and C, what are A, B and C?” Usually items A and B will be price and service. Item C is the one that will really reveal their thinking.
- When you visit a customer, they will usually offer you something to drink. Take the drink! Getting the chance to go into the break room is a great opportunity to build rapport with the prospect.
- At the end of each session of questions by the TV detective Columbo, he would start to leave and then stop and ask: “Oh – just one more question”. This would often be the key question of the interview. Do the same at the end of a meeting. Actually start to leave, and then stop and ask “Oh – just one more question. Do you see any red flags?” This will often catch the prospect with their defenses down, and will elicit useful info.
- When you have an account that goes quiet or is not moving forward, ask them “What if you did nothing?” This can either help them reach a sense of urgency, or help you disqualify the account.
- Beware the rambling voice mail with the “mach speed” phone number at the end.
- Spell check is the enemy. It will happily allow many foolish and damaging words to pass. Marty gave one example of a rising star who sent an email to a large distribution that said “Are you free at 2:00? We need to talk love.” Clearly a career-limiting move.