Making sales calls, whether that was over the phone or face to face, was a big part of some of my early roles in the financial services sector. The following tips were ones I found particularly helpful and that seem to have stood the test of time.
But have they or am I out of date? I’d be grateful for any thoughts, or updates or tips, of your own that you might share on the same topic
1. Discuss problems in the present tense
Have you ever had someone try to sell you life insurance? And I mean ‘sell’ in so far as you didn’t identify the need and request quotes; instead someone was trying to convince you that you needed it.
A tactic you’re likely have encountered is the “What if you died twenty years from now, what would happen to your family?” question. The problem with it is that the only sensible answer is “I don’t know!”. The timeframe is too far ahead and there are far too many variables. It becomes just an abstract jumble of thoughts.
But what if instead you were asked, “If you’d died last night, what would your family’s future look like today?” Thinking about your answer now requires you to be in the here and now and consider circumstances that are real and not just fanciful. It’s much more likely to bring about a recognition of a need than asking you to predict the future would.
A business to business example would be “Tell me how you’d get through the rest of this week following a cyber-attack today”, as opposed to “What might happen in the future if you don’t take steps to protect your data security?”
2. Feel Felt Found
Let’s say a customer of yours expresses some doubt or misgivings about the product or service you’re describing. This little 3F tool is very useful for making sure we can muster a response and are not left floundering. You’d say something like, “I can understand why you’d feel that way, I had a previous customer who felt that way too, but what they found was….”
Yes, it’s simplistic, but it ensures we empathize and then respond with social proof.
3. Remember, value is relative
On my way home from work yesterday, I stopped to fill my car with fuel. Here in the UK I paid £1.30 per litre, which is quite expensive by recent standards. It made me quite cross and my wife and daughter accused me of being grumpy the rest of the evening.
This was a shame because the sun had been shining, I’d had a good day and we were going out for dinner that night, which I’d been looking forward to.
Now, imagine an entirely different set of circumstances. Imagine that I, or you, were driving across treacherous mountain roads in a remote region. Imagine terrible weather conditions and no signal for a satnav to link to. Imagine having no idea how far away you were from home or even the nearest fuel station.
Finally, imagine that the fuel gauge warning light was showing and had been for some time.
In these circumstances how much would you pay for a litre of fuel? £2, £5, £10, more? Probably anything to get out of that situation and get home safely, as soon as possible.
We all know it’s about value and not price, but presenting value requires us to have a good understanding of our customer’s circumstances, the needs they create and the problems that require solving. Only then can we set out value proposition in some kind of context and see price becoming far less important.
So, what do you think? Are these tips that you can use in the modern world of selling? Please leave some comments and let us know.
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