I grew up as a Jehovah’s Witness (I am no longer one to be clear) and from a young age I was taught to present, question, reason and convince. I think it was the definition of “not an easy sell” to put it mildly and it was often very demotivating getting doors slammed in your face or dogs set on you again and again! (true story)
I did however learn some fundamental values and principles that can be applied to sales people and the sales environment. Simple principles, but always valid.
- Your body language and tone of voice matters A LOT
When I knocked on doors and I looked nervous, the conversation didn’t go very far. Before you even open your mouth, what is your mental state like, are you present, are you actually there? Are there lots of ums, ahs and mumbles and a disinterested look on your face(voice) like you don’t really want to be there. Do you sound pitchy and weak? Any human, never mind a customer will pick up on this. Your tone of voice gives a particular client an insight into your mental state, your power. More importantly, clients decide in milliseconds whether you are trustworthy and could they do business with you? Content is important, but HOW you deliver the message is key. Delivery before content. We are intelligent animals (some of the time!) and we can pick up on minute facial and tonal variations, this innate skill has been developed over thousands of years. The secret to vocal power is breathe and breathing techniques. Breathing is the foundation on which a power vocal house is built.
- Practise, role play, look in the mirror and/or record yourself before a big pitch
Before I knocked on doors, there was always role playing between partners to practice the pitch. Feedback was given and advice taken. In the age of Smart phones and technology, record your sales pitch, video yourself and see for yourself how you look, how you sound and how you come across. Self-awareness is the first step in the learning process. There really is no excuse these days not to practice your sales story and nail it.
- Rapport combined with the right questions will unlock and unblock ANY objection
Following on from the right body and tonal language is rapport. Build it, use it and make your prospect feel comfortable. Look for that commonality in your prospects. Find the commonality through research and then ask the right question ABOUT THEM to build rapport instantly. If you are calling a particular person or company, do research, find commonality and start with that to ease into a conversation. People buy from people that they trust and like. If you bulldoze into a sales pitch without making sure you are on even keel with your prospect you might get resistance. Earn the right to ask the difficult questions later. Nothing unlocks a conversation like rapport, followed by open ended RELEVANT questions.
It will happen, get over it. If I had taken each rejection as a personal slight, I would have been injecting Prozac to deal with the depression. Too often we take things personally and feel frustrated, however in a professional context, in a selling context, this is a definite NO NO! Potential clients are not rejecting YOU, they are rejecting your message at this time. Very easy to understand, very difficult to do. Dust off your shoes and go and look for somebody else and perhaps come back to this client in a year.
- Persistence and the long game
Nowadays we are used to getting things straight away, right now, instantly; gone are the days of waiting patiently for anything. Sales and selling doesn’t work like that for the accounts you really want. If there is decent interest, if this is an account you want, keep going and keep going for as long as it takes (at least 5 or 6 attempts to get a first meeting). You need to be Thomas Edison about it and NOT give up on the first few attempts. Also remember, time and circumstances are ALWAYS changing for people, companies and business processes. It might not be now, but keep knocking and somebody will open a door for you.
- Keep a detailed record(CRM) and do research
Back in the day, we used to write down who was interested, who bought what magazine and what was spoken about. We used that intel to keep massaging interest.