New sellers struggle because they lack the skills and experience to ask well-crafted questions and build rapport with prospects. In this episode, Tony Morris talks about the five ways that new sellers can sell like pros. Tony Morris is a speaker for sales conferences around the globe, and an author of several books, a podcaster, and an entrepreneur who runs a sales training business called Tony Morris International.
Tony believes that sales reps should apply the 80/20 Rule. This means salespeople should listen 80% of the time and speak 20% of the time. As Tony points out, we have two ears and one mouth so we should use them in that order. Unfortunately, most salespeople are in fact doing 80/20 but they’re doing it the wrong way round. The first tip for new sellers is to get the customer or prospect to talk more than you.
People generally love to talk about themselves. When you encourage your prospect to talk more, it allows them to become comfortable. As they talk, you’re able to learn more and build rapport quicker. You do this by asking the right questions and listening with the objective to learn and understand.
Asking the right questions
Many people ask the wrong questions. These questions can be answered with yes or no, they don’t provide a lot of insight into the prospect’s journey before meeting with you, and they aren’t personal. Alternatively, Tony calls the right questions “killer questions.” One example of a killer question is, “What’s the best that you’ve seen so far?” The answer to this question allows you to understand more about what the prospect is looking for, what they’ve seen in your competition, and how you can offer better.
Sales managers can encourage asking skills in a team meeting. Start by allowing each person to come up with a topic and then the team has to practice asking open-ended questions about that topic. Going through this process trains the brain to become comfortable asking these questions. The more you do it, the more natural and habitual it becomes. Through this exercise, you’re learning how to hold a conversation, not an interrogation. When you’re comfortable as a sales rep, it allows room for your prospects to get comfortable as well.
Different types of questions
- Tag on questions that allow you to go deeper into the answers.
- Statement questions help deeper engagement.
- Replay questions demonstrate that you are listening.
It’s true that The Golden Rule states we should treat people how we want to be treated but in sales, it’s more important to lean into The Platinum rule, treating people how they want to be treated. You can’t respond to your clients the same way because they all have different perspectives on how that should look. Your job as a salesperson is to pay attention to the clues your client provides about how they want to be treated and respond effectively.
Be interested, not interesting
Top salespeople are genuinely curious and are sincerely interested in their prospects. Your job is not to sell, but to serve. It’s your job to help a customer buy what is appropriate to their needs. This isn’t just about the quick sale and then moving on to the next prospect. Being genuinely interested will transform regular customers into raving fans who will be the ambassadors that recommend you to their friends, family, and colleagues.
Sales managers can help their team practice being curious by getting into the habit of asking their sales reps to share three things about their potential clients that can’t be easily researched. They will only be able to give detailed and personal information about their prospective clients if they have been genuinely curious.
Be The Challenger
Being The Challenger comes from the book The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Customer Conversation by Matthew Dixon. This book challenged Tony’s perspective on sales. Before reading the book, Tony thought that sales were about relationships. However, this book proved that the most successful salespeople are able to share insights to make their prospects think differently.
Tony illustrates The Challenger by sharing a story about how he met with a client and questioned their process. It made the client uncomfortable and he wondered why Tony was asking. Tony responded that the client could greatly improve current practices and proceeded to offer the prospect multiple solutions. The client loved it! Tony challenged the process that they’d been using for years and was able to provide a fresh perspective that served the needs of his client. Don’t be afraid of challenging the process as long as you can back it up, share value and offer insights to make your prospect think differently, and in their favor. Using The Challenger method helped Tony stand out from the competition.
We can over-complicate the sales process. The job is to schedule meetings, prepare questions to preempt objections, build rapport, understand the problems, and come up with a solution. These are the basics of sales but most salespeople don’t execute these areas the best they can.
For one thing, salespeople give up too early. Most of them may send a proposal but only follow-up once. If they don’t get hold of the person, they just quit. The reality is, the prospect may be needing to address something more important in their lives than closing a deal, at least for now. With that in mind, there needs to be a commitment that you will offer multiple touchpoints. If you have identified them as genuine prospects and you believe that you can serve them well, then keep going and try different modes of entry. Connect with them on LinkedIn, comment on their post, send them articles of interest, or a copy of your book. You can also send them a book you find interesting or offer a podcast. Do this so that when they’re ready to buy, you’re the first person on their mind.
Once you know how to do things the right way, you’ll want to keep going. The more you do it and get good results, the more these positive actions become habitual.
It’s not just knowledge that gives you power. You have to apply what you’ve learned. Become a student of sales that never graduates. Top performers never stop learning.
“5 Ways New Sellers Can Sell Like Pros” episode resources
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