Entrepreneurs and executives alike increasingly want to know how they can sell more, in less time, at a greater profit. With that in mind, what is the single best thing you can do to immediately improve revenues, and raise your bottom line? Focus the bulk of your energy on your greatest revenue generator: sales!
Of course, when it comes to multiplying sales revenues, there are no magic bullets. After all, if increasing sales were that easy, everyone would do it – including your competition. But as we began discussing last month, there are nine “quick fixes” that can do wonders to help you break loose from all those “good old” sales techniques that just don’t work anymore, set yourself apart from the pack, and start you on the road to consistently performing at the top 20% of the industry.
Over 20 years ago, Neil Rackham concluded a 12- year study analyzing some 35,000 sales calls conducted by 22 companies in 23 countries. The objective of the study was to determine the precise behaviors of successful sales people.
What did he find? That mediocre sales people make statements. The best ask questions.
Yet despite this research, today, the number one weakness among the overwhelming majority of sales remains their ability to ask questions. During sales meetings, your golden rule should be to talk no more than 20% of the time. This means listening for at least 80% of the conversation.
How can you accomplish this seemingly straightforward yet elusive goal? The next time you make a sales call, try one of the following simple exercises:
- Turn all your “feature and benefit statements” into questions. For example, instead of just telling the prospect that your product is Web-based, try something like: “I understand that a Web-based application is important to many companies. Is that the case with you?” By asking questions rather than making statements, you will ensure that your next sales meeting is a two-way dialogue rather than a one-sided – or even self-centered – presentation.
- Create a list in advance of all the questions you would like to ask. Then, carry that list into the meeting with you, and commit yourself to asking all the questions before you leave. In addition to improving your sales skills, having a prepared list of questions will also demonstrate to the client that you are diligent and well prepared for the meeting.
- Practice using the word “why.” Why is that important to you? Why do you need a 10% discount? Why do you want free shipping? Why do you need the quote tomorrow? Asking “why” can help you get to the true meaning behind what the customer is asking for.
- Plus, aim to ask three questions every time the customer makes a statement. These could be expanding questions such as “please tell me more about that,” clarifying questions like “why” or “what do you mean,” or closed questions such as “is that feature mandatory to your requirements?”