Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sales Happen -- or Do They?

I was at a technology awards event this month where I heard a most insightful quote:
"A sale happens when someone trusts you enough to give you money to make a
problem go away

There's a lot of insight buried in that sentence. Let's look at the key words:
  • Someone -- People buy things, rather than organizations, and they buy things for a reason that makes sense to them.

  • Trusts -- Selling today is about trust. There are a blizzard of products, services and outright frauds out there available for sale. A buyer usually can't properly analyze each to determine the "optimal" solution. He therefore has to count on someone he trusts to help him make the right buying decision.

  • You -- It's not very much about whether they trust your company, your products or your services. It's more about whether they trust you.

  • Problem -- Sales happen when someone has a problem -- either something he's fearful about or an unfulfilled need, sometimes for more income. See: "Is your Elevator Speech in Your Customer's Language?"

So, you might ask, "how do I use this?"

First, let's focus on the "trust" part -- the major key word of this quote. Focus your efforts on building trust with the prospect -- trust in yourself. The most powerful trust-builders are testimonials, examples, case studies and referenceable customers -- especially those that take on a personality, rather than generic statements.

Use customers' names in your anecdotes and quotes. For example, "Our Chief Executive Boards members are quick to talk about their CEBI experience. A member named Jeff said: "CEBI is the most valuable thing that I have done to help me grow not only as a business owner but as a father and husband". And a member named David said: "I have found the experience and resources offered by the other members in CEBI to be richly rewarding for me."

Your prospect will pay more attention to a testimonial from a "real person" than a generic benefit statement. For example, "After a CEBI meeting last month, one of our members, Tim, told me: "I leave each meeting with at least one idea I can use, either in my business or my personal life."

And let's focus on "problem". The book Spin Selling asserts that you want to help the prospect identify a

  • Situation,
  • the Problem that causes,
  • the Implication of that problem upon the business,
  • and the Need for a solution -- yours.

If you don't have all those parts covered in the prospect's mind, you probably won't have a sale.

So, think about your current prospects and proposals. In each case, do you think the prospect actually trusts you enough to give you money to solve a problem for him? If not, figure out a way to get there.

If you have other selling axioms or principles that work for you, please click "Comment" below and share them with others.

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Terry Weaver

Chief Executive Boards International

Chief Executive Boards International: Freedom for business owners & CEOs -- Less Work, More Money, More Freedom to enjoy it

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