It's been said by countless business coaches and experts that, "you do not have a business until you make your first sale." I personally would like to add-on to this statement by saying, "you will not keep your business open, if you can not keep selling." Each day thousands of small business owners throughout the country fail because they have quit selling (or because they never learned how to in the first place). In fact according to the US Small Business Administration, 9 out of 10 small businesses fail within the first 1 year. They fail for a variety of reasons. Some of these failing companies will blame the economy. Some of these failing companies will blame the marketing conditions. Some of these companies will blame a poor marketing campaign, or a weak supply chain system, however at the end of the day (having worked with numerous companies as a personal business coach) it seems to be that the businesses that are struggling are all struggling because they can not sell anything.
Sure, they have a great product. Sure they have a great concept. Oh yes, they might even have a brilliant team of some of the brightest marketing people out there. Their PR team is usually solid and their office usually looks professional. When you walk onto their property you might even be greeted by a secretary that will serve you a fresh cup of coffee as you wait in their pristine lobby / waiting area. Their real estate looks good. They've lease some good space. But are they selling anything? Usually, and sadly, the answer is no.
Most of these businesses that I watched implode due to lack of sales usually have plenty of college graduates around. They have marketing degrees, they have PR degrees, they have business management degrees, they even have people on staff that have MBAs and Doctorates in the various aspects of business systems and management. However, the world of academia, long-winded essays and business theories do not mean much to the business that is struggling to make sales. So what is a business owner to do when surrounded by a team of people that can not sell? I recommend either hiring an on-going sales coach or at least making daily or weekly sales training a deeply imbedded part of your company's culture.
Weekly or bi-weekly your team is looking for their paycheck and weekly or bi-weekly your sales team needs to be sharpening their sales calls with role plays, method training and vigorous one-on-one sales training. My friend think about this for a second. Business essentially is broken down into the following four categories and then that's about it.
Sales – If your company can not sell, then you are not going to be in business very long.
Leadership – If you can not build a TEAM of motivated people that are focused on achieving a DEFINITE CHIEF AIM then your business model is not sustainable.
Accounting – If you do not know how much you are making and whether you are making money or not it is going to be very hard for you to stay in business much less grow. It's hard to improve something that is not quantifiable.
Investing – If you are spending ½ of your revenue paying the government a "stupid tax" because you have no clue how to invest in commercial or residential real estate then it will be very hard to ever get out of the rat race.
So if business is so simple, and it all begins with sales … why is there not more formal training available for those desiring to improve their sales skills? For those of you reading this that have already left the college campus and entered into the unforgiving world of entrepreneurship and capitalism, you have probably found yourself wishing that you knew more about sales, negotiation and the art of persuasion. And so to help bridge the gap between academia and the real world of entrepreneurship, here is the "Entrepreneur of the Year's" abbreviated training on SALES 101. Read and apply the information below and it could change your sales career forever.
Step 1 (of any sales presentation) – Build a sales script for you and your entire team. If you are the boss, it is absolutely vital that you take the time to script out a phone call / face-to-face presentation that works. For example, in the world of commercial real estate I have found that the majority if time, I am going to be talking with the secretary of a older wealthy investor on the phone nearly every time before I get to speak with the prospective or current building owner. Nearly every time, I am going to be talking with the secretary before I reach the prospect. THINK ABOUT THAT. Nearly, every time it is the same. In your business, certain aspects of every sales call are nearly the same every time. People like you and I that are crazy enough to start are own businesses or our own sales presentation, are simply making it up as we go. We are improving our call nearly every time. With each rejection we are refining our presentation. So when you finally do figure out how to get through the "guard dog" (secretary), would not it make sense to take the time to write down the system and the method that works. Do you really want your commission sales people to spend 2 months learning how to get rejected, when you already know what works? No. Make a script. A sales script is nothing more than a sales recipe for success. It takes a little bit of this and a little bit of that and you want to say this here and says this there and then ask this question here and then BOOM, you have a deal. Take the time to make a script. Take the guess work out of your sales team's presentations.
Step 2 – Make sure that your sales presentation includes the following 4 variables in this order (regardless of your industry).
Rapport – Make sure that your sales presentation has rapport building questions that work and that stimulate good conversation.
· Every human's favorite topic is themselves, so keep that in mind when building your script.
· Practice conversation generosity. Your prospect should spend the majority of the time talking. 70% of the time your prospect should be talking and 30% of the time, they should be listening to you. Make sure you have enough rapport building questions in your script for you to be successful in achieving the 70/30 ratio.
Needs – Make sure that your sales presentation accurately pin-points your prospect's needs. If you do not know what your prospect wants then how could you possibly guess at what they accurately want. Unless you want to become a mental telepathy expert before you close your first deal, you had better be asking some solid questions to determine their needs before you begin giving them your product's benefits.
Make sure that you have at least 10 "need finding questions" in your script. Your sales people should never run out of good questions to ask.
Make sure that your script is not backed by the belief that selling is telling. Selling is not telling, it is listening. Listen your prospect's needs, then sell them a solution to their problems.
Make sure that your "need finding questions" unearth a dissatisfaction that the prospect has with their current product, service or way of life. Your product must then provide a solution for this problem.
Benefits – Make sure that your sales script sales benefits, not features. No one cares about what kind of technology was used to make this or that. No one cares about the model number of your product. No one cares about the unique hand-crafted what-not that went into making your product until they know what they product or service can do for them.
Make sure that your sales script provides your team with at least 5 solid benefits that clearly explain to the prospect why this product will provide a solution to their product.
Make sure that your benefits are fact based, not puffery based. No one wants to hear that your product is "the best," or that you are "number one." They want to know what your product can do for them. They want to know how your service will enhance their lives and make them feel better.
Make sure that your benefits are focused on making a "Win-Win" connection with every customer. Your benefits must explain to your prospects how this product clearly will benefit them and you, or they will become very skeptical very quickly.
Call-To-Action / Close – Make sure that your script includes a call to action. If you meet with someone and you do not come home with a "sale" then you have accomplished nothing. You would not believe how many sales professionals are out there concluding their ½ hour presentation with, "and so if you all want to just get back with me, then I'd love to work with you." This statement is bogus. No one wants to meet with you for a ½ hour about nothing. If you are going to spend the ½ hour of time needed to meet with someone you might as well close the deal. You might as well ask for their business. If you do not ask, you most certainly will never be told yes. If you live in fear of rejection, then life will reject you by default. Go ahead and go for the close every time.
Make sure that your close is backed by the belief that one should eat a cow one small piece at a time.
Make sure your script first asks the customer "does that make sense?"
Make sure your script then asks the prospect, "which package do you think would be best for you all based on what we have talked about? Either this one or that one?"
Make sure that your script then asks, "did you all want to pay for that via check or credit card?"
My friend, their needs to be college degrees out there at every college on "Salesology." However, there is not and there probably never will be. If you would like more information on sales, then I would highly-recommend that you read Napoleon Hill's "Success Skills" or the various audio trainings and books of Brian Tracy. Read those books, apply the "moves" you find in those books and make it happen. You were born to succeed. You were born to go to the top, but you must learn to sell and persuade people before you can do anything.