The first video blog post. Would love any feedback.
Archive for May, 2010
Recently, much to my delight, I’ve been in front of potential customers more often. Over the years I feel as if I’ve developed good sales instincts. Successful entrepreneurs are instinctive salesmen. Nonetheless, I wanted to review some basic principles of conceptual selling. Let’s do it together.
First, no one buys a product or service. The customer buys what they think the product or service will do for them. There are two tasks to conceptual selling
- Understand the customer’s concept first, of what he or she wants to accomplish
- Connect your product/service to that concept
The benefits of focusing on the customer’s concept first are:
- Allows you to learn more about your customer
- Enables you to focus on results
- You’re unlikely to be pigeonholed with the competition
- Minimizes the importance of price competition
- Positions yourself with the person who makes the final decision
- Enables you to spot early those situations that are not Win-Win
There are three phases of a sales call.
The first phase is Getting Information:
- Effective selling begins with the ability to ask good questions – why?
- Qualifies the prospect early
- Helps you understand the current situation
- Builds rapport
- Helps you determine the customer’s decision-making process
- Enables you to identify differences between your service and your competitors’
- Reinforces your own credibility
- Motivates and sustains your customer’s interest
The second phase is Giving information:
- Relate information about your service to his or her concept
- Relate information about your service that differentiates your offer from the competition
- Differentiation only works by pointing out Unique Strengths
The third phase is Getting commitment:
- Get some kind of commitment from the client after every sales call
- Get a higher degree of commitment as the sale moves forward
- Whenever customers refuse Commitment, it’s because they feel they’re going to lose with you or your solution — there remains a Basic Issue
Why do salespeople talk so much?
- They feel more comfortable being in control
- They feel it’s their job to tell the prospect about their service
- Talking is what the customer wants the salesperson to do
- Talking takes less planning
- Sometimes answers to questions are hard to swallow
In the end, it must be a Win-Win scenario.
- Don’t oversell on expectations
- Don’t get suckered into a giveaway
- Hear the customer out
- When in doubt find out
- Be willing to walk
- Always give information in context of the customer’s concept
So, we’ve reviewed that to be effective on sales calls, you must be able to listen and understand what the customer is trying to accomplish. Then, explain how your solution fits into making that possible. Simple, right?
I had an amazing mother’s day.
My mother’s always been a people person. She has great timing with stories and jokes. She easily entertains in group settings, and is quick to laugh. Despite this, we didn’t always get along when I was a teenager. As a mother, she could be extremely demanding and my adolescence would have been any parent’s nightmare.
Those days have long passed, and last Sunday I wanted nothing more than to spend time with my mother on her terms. After a family lunch, she wanted to explore Seattle’s downtown shopping district. I volunteered to escort her around, starting with a Seattle Street Car ride from our South Lake Union condo.
We wandered into Nordstrom, where I patiently followed her through the assortment of purses, then to the women’s apparel. I gave feedback about various outfits, but we mostly talked about the family, laughing at the passage of time. We spoke in Korean, somehow feeling closer for it.
She reminded me about how much I used to eat as a high school athlete, emphasizing the enormous amounts with her spread out arms and the volume of her laughter. Then, she saw an outfit on sale and excitedly asked me to help find her size. I obliged, searching through women’s clothes, not considering how ridiculous it may look.
Eventually, she lead me to the men’s section and asked if I needed anything. Mothers always treat their sons as little boys regardless of age. I tried to change the topic with questions about several of my cousins, but she was already looking at clothes for me. Finally, I convinced her that we should look at other stores as well.
Outside, the weather was gorgeous, perfect for downtown shopping. With the street musicians serenading us, she stopped by a cherry blossom that reminded her of Korea.
After a few stops, I directed her to the Nordstrom Rack. She was now even more focused on shopping with the prospect of saving money. I followed her about, delighting in her obvious enthusiasm. There, she found a pair of sandals that she loved — so much so she decided to buy another pair for my wife Shari.
I let her buy me a pair of shoes there as well.
Outside again, she pulled out a Starbucks card insisting we enjoy tw0 frappuccinos. We got carried away in our good mood and also shared a roasted corn on the cob. We conversed about how healthy she and my dad are. Me, watching her reaction carefully for any telltale signs to the contrary. Happy not to have noticed anything.
Time moved fast. I had arrived a day earlier from London but didn’t feel any jet lag shopping with her. It was just a perfect day.
The next day, she texted, “I was happy yesterday shoping with my son and lunch together with my family.”
Throughout this blog, I’m telling stories. I try to make these stories entertaining, interesting, and have some point.
Storytelling is also an effective way to communicate within your organization. Sometimes, however, even story-tellers like myself forget to make important points through an effective narrative.
Recently, excited to have some positive financial information about our company, I went through a powerpoint presentation of revenue and profit charts, actual to forecast sales charts, sales pipeline charts, and other such dry charts during a staff meeting. As blank faces stared back at me, I knew I had blown a great opportunity to engage and excite them with an effective story.
Storytelling is vital for internal communication, especially for helping staff identify with corporate goals and values. Not everyone can communicate numbers and behaviors, according to the Financial Times article, “Storytellers Who Make Up The Skills Gap” .
My grandmother and mother used storytelling to give a sense of my past, as well as to motivate me for the future. Their stories were always so compelling. Remember your best professors in college? I bet they were great storytellers who made subjects come alive. The worse professors, for me anyways, were the ones who read from the text book and just gave us dry facts.
Do you want to really communicate? Be creative and tell a story that brings your information alive.
The corporate world and the creative world do not have to be mutually exclusive. So, tell a story when talking about the financial performance of your company. Narrate a story about your successes, triumphs, and continuing challenges. Your audience, be it your staff or potential investors (or even family and friends), will react better than the blank stares I encountered with my powerpoint presentation.