When the going gets tough in sales…

When the going gets tough in sales – the tough get going!

You don’t have to be a genius to figure out that, in the current economic climate, business might be getting a little tough for some companies. For many of you, this may be the toughest economic climate you have ever worked and sold in.

You’ll also recall that I’ve mentioned in my newsletters and in my books, CDs and DVDs that selling solutions to problems is the better way to sell and by all accounts, there must be more people and companies out there who are experiencing more problems than they have ever experienced before. So logically, there should also be more opportunities than ever before.

You’ll also have heard the expression – “When the going gets tough – the tough get going!’ So it’s time to get tough – and that may mean getting tough on yourself. It may mean working smarter and harder and longer hours than ever before and maybe having to do a number of things that take you right out of your comfort zone. Here are just a few things you can and should be doing right now:

Make a list of all the problems you have ever been able to solve for your customers or clients and get back to every one of your customers or clients that you have not yet discussed all of these with. You won’t ever know they have the problem you can solve until you have asked.

If you are not already doing it, start cold-calling again. I know I have constantly taught that the best way to get new business is through referrals but in times such as these, relying on referrals may not be enough. You need to use every weapon you have in your armoury. So put together or buy a relevant prospect list, prepare a telephone script so you know what you are going to say and the questions you are going to ask and set aside at least forty-five minutes every day, preferably first thing in the morning to make those calls.

Recently, I’m finding that I’m being asked to do a lot more coaching for salespeople on cold calling techniques and one of the things I’m finding most of all is that salespeople quit pushing for the appointment or the sale far too quickly. They too often take the first ‘NO’ as a reason to quit. The following is an example taken from an actual sales call and illustrates why it’s so important to keep pushing forward. Prior to my coaching the lady making the call would have quit very early on in the call. See for yourself the improvement – this is an actual transcript of the call…

Prospect: “Good morning, this is John Smithson here.”

Salesperson: “Good morning, I’m Jane Dowling calling from XYZ office furniture. Mr Smithson – or may I call you John Please?

Prospect: John is OK

Salesperson: “Thank you John. Your switchboard operator Karen kindly told me that that you’re the person that makes decisions on where your company buys office furniture. Is that correct?”

Prospect: “Yes, but right now we don’t need anything”

Salesperson: “I understand and I appreciate your honesty. John I’m calling because XYZ Office Furniture would like to be the company you come to when you do. Our customers love our mix of quality, design and competitive pricing. How could we position ourselves to at least be considered as a preferred supplier please?”

Prospect: If you wanted our business, the least you would have to do is give us the best prices and a first class service.”

Salesperson: “John, our service is second to none and let’s also assume we could offer the best prices or at least very competitive pricing. What other issues do you take into account when making your decisions?

Prospect: “Just send me some information in the mail .”

Salesperson: “Thank you. I would be really happy to send you some information about our company. John, when do you anticipate you’ll need to take a serious look at purchasing more office furniture?”

Prospect: “Probably three to four months”.

Salesperson “In that case, what I have here right now is going to be up to date then. I do have a tremendous amount of different literature though, some of which may or may not be of interest to you. Do you mind if I ask you a few questions please to make sure I send you the right material to review?

(Questions are asked to determine the type of office furniture and associated services that might be required AND the problems they have experienced in the past when purchasing)

Thank you for that information John. I’m going to send that today so you’ll have it on Thursday. How long do you need to review it?

Prospect: “A couple of days.”

Salesperson: “OK – so I’ll call you on Tuesday and, if it’s OK with you, this is what I’d like to happen please. I’d like you to say you have read the literature and there’s absolutely no reason for us to meet OR you can tell me that there is some interest in which case I’d like you to invite me in for a meeting. Is that reasonable”

Prospect: “Yes- that’s reasonable Jane”

Salesperson: Thank you – have a good week-end John.

She did get the appointment when she called on Tuesday and they have since done business together.

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