By Josh Damigo
Whether it’s closing a multi-million-dollar deal, asking, “Do you want fries with that?” or actually getting your partner to agree to watch the show you want to on Netflix, the “art of the sale” is all around us.
We should, then, take the time to figure out where our weaknesses lie, because our very survival may depend on our ability to close a deal. Judge Ziglar told us, “Timid Salespeople Have Skinny Children,” and if we’re going to be fat and happy, we may need a refresher on what my colleague John Paul Severson and I have dubbed “The Seller’s Formula.”
Getting back to the fundamentals in our approach, especially during a time of Zoom pitches and outdoor presentations, may be even more vital than in “precedented times.” If you or your team are currently struggling with sales performance, I offer that it may be in the fundamental areas of Invitations, Presentations, and Contracts.
Invitations: We have all seen firsthand that many salespeople and business owners give incredibly poor invitations. (If you haven’t, I encourage you to attend any virtual business mixer, and just sit still and listen for a couple minutes.) An invitation as defined by my company, Influence Ecology, is a form of an offer that is extended to a specific customer where the result is the acceptance or decline to hear (attend/receive) a formal presentation.
It is not difficult to accept that the first step in making proper invitations is to know your specific customer. The number of local business owners who subscribe to a generalist viewpoint of “I can help anyone!” are, more often than not, only going to develop into the future “salesperson who can’t shut off” at their local chamber.
Identifying your correct customer is quite important. In fact, athletic apparel company Lululemon has created an entire character named “Ocean” with very specific demographics, in order to determine who their perfect customer really is, and what they want as their focus for their correct customer.
Have you found your perfect customer, and does your team know who that person or business is? Or are they spending time making invitations to prospects or businesses that could not accept, even if they “sold them”?
Furthermore, are your salespeople making clear requests to their prospects, or are they passively dropping hints or setting “educational meetings” with them, only to use bait-and-switch phrases such as, “Now I’m not trying to sell you…” when we all know that’s exactly what they’re doing.
“I want your business” is a clear, bold, and direct statement that is often underused. From experience, when we transact powerfully, prospects will accept or decline much more quickly and allows us to move to serious buyers who won’t waste our time.
Making powerful invitations to the correct prospects is a deliberate practice that should be put in place in every company to save time and allow teams to increase presentations.
Presentations: When was the last time your sales team practiced their presentations? Are their presentations award-winning, theatrical displays, or are they self-serving infomercials that could easily fit on a billboard?
When inventing the presentation of your company’s offer, make certain that your offer: addresses the concerns of the listener; leaves no question as to the action that must be taken if accepted; has qualified obligations for your customers to report their satisfaction with a completion date; is a promise or set of promises to satisfy a substantial breakdown; is a fantastic performance.
If all of these considerations are present, all that is left to do is practice. Each sales rep must have the ability to pick up or stop at any point in a presentation. They should know how to handle tough customers, easy customers, and everyone else in between.
Just like professional ball players take hundreds of grounders or shoot hundreds of free throws every day, practicing the fundamentals of your sales pitch will take more prospects with you to your final phase of contracts.
Contracts: We won’t go into the specifics of what makes a contract, but if your salespeople are like me, then the chances are they hate contracts. More often than not, salespeople gloss over the sharp edges, and you may find that many on your team are worried that they will lose the sale if they insert “all of the ways this deal will go wrong”—my previous definition of “contracts.”
The consequences of not confidently presenting a contract may be where your team needs to go to work. Your sales team must learn to love the contracts, because that’s where their money comes from … and who doesn’t love money?! (If you just answered, “my salesman…” you may need to figure out why they are in your sales department!)
How is your team’s “Seller’s Formula?” Are all the ingredients working? If not, you may need to let your team know that their kids should try out for track and field, because they are going to be very, very skinny.
• Josh Damigo is a client manager for Influence Ecology in Ventura.