Most service professionals I know struggle with holding productive sales conversations. They either avoid them altogether and never get close to the sale or blab so much about what they offer, that they turn people off and lose the deal anyway.
The key is to get your prospects talking so they convince themselves that you are the perfect solution to their problems. And the way to get them talking is by asking them questions designed to reveal their hopes and dreams and obstacles to their success. It is through skillful questioning that many a fortune are made.
My friend Lynn Hennessy, owner of a highly successful insurance agency, has her team using 4 simple questions with great success. Lynn learned them from Marvelous Marvin LeBlanc, The Cajun Trainavator.
They are similar to the questions I use, but so short and crisp, I had to ask if I could share them with you, so here they are!
1. When it comes to (insert your product or service), what do you currently have?
2. What do you like about it?
3. What do you dislike?
4. What do you want instead?
Your prospect has now just laid out a roadmap for you to engage them in a conversation that is relevant for them about what you have to offer and how it can address their needs (only if it legitimately does, of course).
Leading with these questions won’t guarantee you close the sale, but I’ll bet your closing ratio will go up. So try them out and let me know.
I’ve been coaching a lot of financial advisors lately on building their book of business by leveraging the power of referrals. Referred prospects make faster decisions and do more business than prospects through any other marketing strategy.
I LOVE referrals…and I get a lot of them.
The problem for most business owners is that they’re afraid to ask for fear of seeming pushy or needy. Colleagues are afraid to provide them because they don’t trust you enough to not jeopardize their relationships in their network.
So what’s a business owner to do?
When we’re in a slow economy, people are naturally hesitant and leery of making major investments. If you’ve found yourself making lots of offers but getting few of them accepted, you’re not alone. The problem may not be that what you have to offer isn’t valuable.
It may be that your approach is off.
Referrals could be the key to your recovery. Referred sales take less work. They close faster. They bring in more money. And if you know the secret to leveraging them, they can pull you right out of this financial doldrum most of the world is trapped in.
Here are the 5 steps, R.E.F.E.R. to getting all the referrals you can muster.
It’s important to identify the right referral partners. These might be good clients or colleagues who sell non-competing products or services to your target market.
In order to alleviate that “I’m-not-sure-I-want-to-endorse-you” hesitation, you have to properly orient your referral partners. They need to know not only what products and services you offer but how you’re going to treat their colleagues when you meet them. They have to feel confident that you’re not going to embarrass them or irritate the person they’re connecting you with.
Many people believe that giving you the name, phone number and email of a prospect is all that it takes. In fact, that’s the weakest kind of referral you can ever get. It’s better than a cold call for sure, but not strong enough to oversome the reluctance people have to meeting unknown sales people.
You want your colleague to talk to the prospect on your behalf and ‘grease the slide’ for you before you ever contact them.
Meeting your new prospect for the first time is a sensitive and delicate ocassion. If you blow it, the relationship could be over for good. And you could be jeopardizing your relationship with the person you already know. You have to make sure your new prospect is comfortable meeting with you and minimize their discomfort and fear that you’re going to take advantage of them.
Once you’ve met with the prospect, whether or not they buy from you, it’s important to properly thank the person who made the introduction. Thanking them can take many forms. The choice of how you show your appreciation should be commensurate with the business opportunity you had. It should also be personal enough that your friend or colleague knows that you gave this gratitude process some thought and didn’t just send them the exact same thing you’d give to everyone.
Sure, you can have a canned referral program but unless your standard gifts are whopper, super-duper items, they won’t have long lasting motivational impact. Gifts don’t have to be expensive, just tailored and thoughtful.
Follow this 5-part system consistently and you’re pipeline will be packed with prospects clamoring to do business with you.
Why do ducks walk when they can fly? Indeed, why do we?
I’ve never asked one, but I would guess that flying, especially the lift off, is hard work.
Yolanda Adams so soulfully sang, I Believe I Can Fly. If you haven’t heard it or just need a boost right now, check this out. It’s spine-tinglingly incredible.
Over the weekend, I heard someone say ‘We were born to win but we’re conditioned to lose”.
That may not always be true for everyone, but most of us suffered some ‘incident’ (or series of incidents) as children that limited the limitless potential into which we were born. Someone said or did something that shut us down and because we were little, young, inexperienced and/or trusting, we thought what they said was true.
We took on those limiting beliefs and, because we’re human, today as adults, we’re still dealing with, working around or succumbing to their impact. Even if things are going well, we’re still shaped by conclusions we drew when we were young and had less perspective and understanding of the way the world works.
It’s easy to fall victim to the doom and gloom of the economy. It’s harder to go against the drift of conventional ‘wisdom’. But just like flying, once you get started, it isn’t so bad.
You’ve probably heard people say “under the circumstances…” and then use that to explain or justify their current condition.
Here’s the first secret…
Don’t live under the circumstances! Yes, we all have circumstances, but we have full choice about how to respond to them!
I don’t mean to sound completely non empathetic. Certainly losing a loved one can be traumatic: grieving is a process that takes time to unfold.
Yet, still we choose.
So how does this apply to your business and what are those secrets?
1. Keep your big goal in front of you.
2. Ask people what they need.
3. Stay out of your comfort zone.
Here’s what I mean
1. Keep your big goal in front of you.
No matter if the economy is flourishing or stagnating, you must have at least one big goal and you must constantly remind yourself what it is and why it’s important. You must talk about it to everyone around you who is supportive and not a nay-sayer.
By keeping it front of mind and talking about it constantly, you’ll put your subconscious mind to work. It will begin devising ways to make the goal a reality. Your conscious mind will start noticing opportunities it might have overlooked previously.
You’ll stay motivated and focussed. A client of mine once shared that, in her marriage to her business partner husband, she was the big goal thinker. He was more, shall we say, grounded. She likened it to a river rafting trip through surging rapids.
She thought about the calm stream they would eventually reach; he focussed on all the boulders along the way. You need to pay attention to both, but forgetting that there is a big goal out there and only noticing the boulders, will depress you.
2. Ask people what they need.
No matter what, you should always be sensitive to what your target market, clients and prospects need. And don’t rely on your own judgment. Ask them.
Perhaps you could tailor something you’re already doing to more clearly solve one of their current gnawing problems. The more you are aware of what’s missing in your industry, the more likely you’ll offer something it needs.
Also, the more clear you are about people’s concerns, the more targeted your marketing efforts will be making it easier for people to say ‘yes’ to you.
3. Stay out of your comfort zone.
We get lulled into complacency when times are good. Almost anything we do works out. When times are tight, it’s critical to branch out. Try new things. Don’t rely on what’s always worked in the past. Learn new skills.
Reach out and touch more people. Pick up the phone. Call people. Build relationships. See how they’re doing. Let them know what you’re up to.
Force yourself to do things you’re frightened mind tells you to do later. DO THEM NOW! Stretch the limits of who you think you are. You’ll discover your own resilience. You’re discover the depths of your own strength.
You’ll uncover opportunities that weren’t there until you spoke up. You’ll remind people you’re around and they’ll remember you when someone asks them ‘Who do you know who…?
So, that’s it. Think big, do research, stretch out. Those keys will keep revenue ‘flying’ toward you and your business.
Keeping your pipeline full is one of the best ways to build and maintain a thriving business. The problem is that people are often clueless about how to stuff their pipeline and keep it that way.
Quite often, they alternate between heavy periods of marketing followed by having tons of work to do during which time, they stop marketing. Then when the client work is all done and they can breathe again, they gasp because there’s no one waiting in the wings ready to do business.
There are a variety of activities that can raise your visibility, awareness and credibility for you and what you offer. We’ll cover a four key suggestions today.
1. Attend networking events
Be selective here though because you could literally spend all day, everyday driving from one event to the next. Ask for recommendations from people whose opinion you trust. But decide for yourself if the group is a good fit for you. The key is to attend events filled with people in your target market but resist the urge to try to sell them on the spot. Build relationships and over time, your sales will grow. Also, join groups where you’re in the minority. If you sell primarily to people over 50, think of hobbies they might enjoy and join those groups.
2. Get more active online
Start a blog. It doesn’t have to be perfect. That’s the beauty of blogs. They’re informal rantings about issues you consider important. You’ll attract other people who think those issues are important too. Make sure you visit other people’s blogs and get involved in the discussions at their sites.
3. Volunteer with one or two key business groups
This is a great way to build credibilty and make invaluable connections. You can gain so much by attending a networking event. Your benefit magnifies dramatically when you take on a leadership role. People will see your skills in action in ways they wouldn’t notice if you are just hob-nobbing and passing out cards like everyone else.
4. Get your name in print
One of my clients is very active in the community. The company made a big donation to a local nonprofit but they missed out on an opportunity for media attention for their good deed. It’s great to be civic minded. But it’s just as ok to leverage your generosity to bring attention to yourself and your favorite ’cause’.
According to Ed Alberts, owner of the S.A. Alberts Co., personal customer visits open doors, especially in today’s tough economy. He acknowledged that they take time, but found that meeting with customer’s on their own turf was very successful and highly fruitful.
“Customer visits are one of most basic sales techniques. Modern markets have gotten so that many salespeople sit back on their computer with e-mails and the phone and get lazy. Not meeting the customer in person is a trap. People want to see us face to face.”
So push back from your computer, get out of the office and connect with your customers and prospects to reap the reward of higher sales.
Read full Business Journal article titled “Global trade questions now mainly center on dwindling demand” at tinyurl.com/den387.