FULL DISCLOSURE: I will be the first to admit that I let that book about “12 Habits of People Who Have More Money Than You” sit on the shelf for far too long. Telling myself “I’ll get to it next week.” Or the flood of my monthly subscriptions of Success Magazine, Speaker Magazine, Entrepreneur, and Money Mag loaded with articles relevant to my business that just pile up on the magazine rack at home. Yes I’m guilty. But lately I have been on a purge. I have always eventually gotten around to them, but I have made a commitment to read an article or book chapter almost every morning. It has replaced Sportscenter and the news.
But I’m not reading for the reason you might expect. While I do love increasing my knowledge and business acumen, I have a bigger purpose. That purpose is my prospects and customers. No, not to call them up and impart this newfound knowledge on them. In fact it’s quite the opposite, and unfortunately that’s exactly what most of us do when we get a whole bunch of new information. We want to go TELL our clients or prospects everything we know, and how it will cure all their ills. You call it “EDUCATING”. I hate that word when referring to sales skills. So instead I would like to share a few ways to start reading. I like to imagine putting on a pair of glasses and it changes the way I look at the information. Instead of reading strictly to gain more knowledge, I’m reading to create a conversation that positions me as a problem solver.
1) Always think, how can I make this a question to a client? As a general rule, you are judged by the questions you ask. Ask dumb questions, they think you’re dumb. Ask smart questions, they may think your smart. Ask questions that bring up an idea or pain they never considered before, then they think you’re brilliant. So let’s just say you sell commercial landscaping. You have read that reducing people from going offsite for lunch can increase productivity. You also know that the sound of a waterscape reduces stress. I’m not going to TELL the client if they build a courtyard with a fountain they will increase productivity and reduce stress. I will ask questions such as “What percentage of your people goes offsite for lunch? How much lost productivity would you say that is each week?”. Or, “Studies show when employees reduce stress by 10% they are twice as likely to stay at their job. What were the results of your last corporate stress test?”. Followed by “what would be the impact to you if you lost your top employee” and “what is the cost of hiring and training someone new when someone leaves?”. Get it? Now imagine if the buyer brought you in to discuss landscaping!?
2) There’s almost always info to help me dollarize what I do. Questioning skills and the ability to create pain in the comfort level of the prospect’s situation is what builds value, credibility, etc. Dollarizing the value of your solution is what accelerates the decision. Let’s take the previous example. Now let’s say an employee makes $10/hr. 40hr week = $400/week. Your landscape feature can increase employees staying onsite by 30 minutes each day, that’s $5 per day x 5 days = $25/week x 52 weeks = $1,300 per employee a year. If they have 100 people that’s $130,000 in just increased productivity alone in 1 year!
3) And lastly it builds confidence. One of our Rules for Selling is know everything about your product, competition, and industry, and say as little as possible about it all to get the deal. And heaven forbid they bring up something in your world you aren’t aware of…yikes! It’s the old saying, when you know you’re good you don’t have to go around telling people you’re good.
I have to sell what I do everyday. If I’m training a sales team, I have to convince them that my process is the best, despite what they have learned in the past or have always done it. To find new business, I have to take advantage of information at my fingertips to stay up to date with hiring trends, organizational productivity trends, studies on how sales skills are evolving in the 21st century. All that builds my presentation full of questions, cost of not making a decision, and confidence! I have attached a video Why I Read explaining some of these techniques using a magazine I was reading last month on the plane. Till next time, HAPPY SELLING! – Tony Leone