Saturday, December 4, 2010

Perfect Words Blended Together Perfectly Yield Best Results

I hear a lot of salespeople criticize the use of so-called "sales techniques." I most often hear salespeople say two things when they refer to sales techniques: First, they say that decision makers can see them coming a mile away. Secondly, they say that they sound phony.

I disagree. When I have heard a dozen or more times the same reason for not doing business with me or my company, I figure it's time for me to come up with just the right words to overcome the objection, memorize those words and repeat them in such a way that I convince the prospect to give me his business.

Yes, this may include the use of a technique, but my definition of a sales technique is to string together a series of words that help salespeople accomplish their objective. As salespeople we must be persuasive. Product knowledge is essential, but product knowledge alone is no better than sending a dictionary on a sales call.

Recently, a lumber company I know experienced some severe cash flow problems, so severe in fact, that several of the company's vendors held up shipments thereby forcing the lumberyard to be out of stock on several key commodities.

The competition jumped on this situation with both feet and spread the word in the community that their competitor had been "cut off" by several vendors and couldn't meet their delivery commitments.

Even though the dealer was able to get his bank to extend his line of credit, pay his past due invoices and get caught up with his vendors, his salespeople were bombarded with questions from customers about what had happened and what assurances could they be given that the barrage of backorders wouldn't be repeated.

The owner called me for some ideas. I recommended a technique that I thought would be perfect for the salespeople to use to deal with this customer concern.

It is called the Feel, Felt, Found technique.
To use this technique, the salesperson had to first of all identify a well-respected contractor who had experienced the inconvenience of backorders, but who had given the salesperson (and the lumberyard) a second chance and was well pleased with the results.

Let's say that the contractor's name was Lou Goodfellow, owner of New Home Construction.

Salesperson making a sales call: "Okay, Joe, it sounds as if you and I pretty much agree on the pricing and the quantities for the framing package on the Cotner Job, may I go ahead and schedule the initial shipment for next Monday morning?"

Contractor: "I don't know, Eddie. You guys put me in a really bad position on the last job I bought from you. If you remember, my framing sub walked off the job when you guys backordered all of those 2 x 6s. I can't afford to let something like that happen again. I thought I'd never get that [framing] crew back on the job. That snafu ended up stretching that job out an extra five days."

Salesperson: "Joe, I totally understand how you feel. If that had happened to me, I would have felt the same way. We went through a bad time of it there for a few weeks, but now we have our act together and we have plenty of stock on hand to take care of your needs."

Contractor: "I'm just not sure, Eddie."

Salesperson: "Joe, do you know Lou Goodfellow over at New Home Construction?"

Contractor: "Yeah, I know Lou."

Salesperson: "Do you respect him?"

Contractor: "Of course, I respect Lou. He is one of the most successful builders in this community."

Salesperson: "Well, Lou had the same experience that you did. And he felt the same way you feel right now, but I convinced Lou that all of the problems we where having with backorders had been fixed and that we had our act back together. So Lou gave us a second chance and he found that our service was better than ever. So what do you say? I sure would like to have a chance to get back in your good graces."

Contractor: "Okay, Eddie. I see your point. Go ahead and ship it. I need it on the job by no later than 7 AM, okay?

Salesperson: "You got it, Joe. Thanks for your confidence.

I understand how you feel, Lou felt the same way, but he found...

Call it a technique if you will, but in this case it did the job for the salesperson. Using these words helped Eddie convince Joe that he should give him a second chance.

Eddie practiced the technique until the words rolled off his tongue. He didn't sound like he was trying to trick Joe into anything, he just sounded sincere. He simply made a good case for being given a second chance.

My advice to all salespeople is to have effective words and phrases memorized to deal with recurring customer objections. The time to learn how to deal with an obstacle is well in advance of encountering it. The worst time to start thinking about what you're going to say is immediately after you encounter the obstacle.

When a golfer hits a shot into a bunker, he must know the correct technique to get out of the trouble he finds himself in. He must know the right way to open the blade of the club, hit an inch or two behind the ball and follow through, letting the sand become a friend instead of an enemy.

Think of the use of sales techniques in the same way as you might think of a technique in golf.

By : Bill_Lee

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