T Nation

Hey, Sales Guys and Gals


#1

So I just started a sales position a few weeks ago and am getting used to their ridiculous processes and paper work (and politics, yuck).

I've done sales before but never really had a pure sales role until now.

What are some tactics/strategies and tools you have used with success? I know there are universal sales mantras about follow up, coddling leads, etc., but was there something that you learned that you had no clue about, especially something that was eye opening?

I'm getting leads every 15-20 minutes but honestly, between having to show clients (my appointments) around and learning the inventory (I'm just 2 weeks into this place) it's very overwhelming. I haven't left the office before 8 pm and I'm there 6 days a week working 10-14 hour days.


#2

Become very good at lying? Learn how to manipulate and pressure people? Somehow I don't see an honest rational salesman doing well... I'd also imagine that you have to watch out for your fellow salesman's backstabbing.


#4

Not all good salesmen are backstabbing liars, it depends on the what you are selling, and how much you believe in it. There is a level of manipulation in everything we do, it just varies on how you approach it and your motives behind that action. If someone comes to you asking for something, it's not going to take as much convincing as it would if you went out and tried to force the same product on someone else.

But, there probably is a certain type of personality that will excel at this kind of job over other types.


#5

Get them saying "yes" to unimportant things before you actually engage about your product. This conditions someone to be more in the "yes" mood.

Smile with your voice, open body positions, the "truth position," etc. Are you sitting or standing in your presentations?

Gesture. Talk with your hands more than your mouth.

Get your client to talk more than you; they are what's most important to them, not your product, it's features or benefits.

Close the sale with: "fair enough?" It's a yes/no question, but man does it close things down in your favor. Also helps turn their rejection of your close into them closing you.


#6

Sure, but the good ones are. At least, the good ones, if not outright lies, will certainly use lots of tricks and other forms of manipulation. As is already starting, all advice on how to be a good salesman will just be a twist on that theme.

Selling stuff is just like debating, it has absolutely nothing to do with the truth and everything to do with getting a favorable reaction. This is why people who teach persuasive speech instruct you to use every logical fallacy known to man, because they know things like emotional stories will elicit favorable responses while well-reasoned arguments fall on deaf ears. While selling and marketing are a somewhat different matter, they generally involve ploys to get people to buy things they otherwise would have not wanted and do no need.


#8

There is a degree of manipulation involved in EVERY social interaction between two people or among a group of people.

Maybe I wasn't clear enough in my post. I'm not looking for advice on HOW to sell. I feel I am a decent salesman and I've sold service contracts, jewelry, cars, and rented out apartments.

I'm more looking at how to manage time between appointments, processing leads, learning inventory, etc. Not just "Make time for it" because that is what I'm already trying to do, but I'm looking for advice on how people found a good rhythm in their daily routine - perhaps an example of the routine - and were able to juggle everything I just described without falling behind in performance. I'm the new guy and they are about to offer me a full time package (currently, I am a contractor) so I am trying hard to impress.

The problem right now is that their internal processes are HORRENDOUS and there is such a waste of time in simply calling up one office and getting a response from them. For instance, they dont' even have a real time inventory system; I am literally looking at 2-3 spreadsheets (one for special pricing, one for product specs) and it's really bogging me down. The only serious leg up the other employees have on me is that they simply know what's available so they can think of it off hand - I can't.

They won't even give me a smart phone to sync with my calendar or for me to be able to respond to emails immediately...hell, I don't even have an office key. I told them: "If you expect the same performance from me as you do everyone else, I should have access to the same resources."

I just don't want to appear like I'm inadequate due to having my hands tied like this. Sucks.


#9

Not sure what your industry or product is, but can offer some general advice.

If you give us some more info about your product, commission structure (or do you have draw vs. commission?), CRM (client relationship management system), company structure (are you on a team, how are leads provided, are there structural differences in self generated leads, i.e. referrals vs. lead provided by your company, do you pay for your own marketing, etc...) The more info you give, the better advice you are likely to get. Sales is an extremely rewarding career if you take the time to build the necessary skills to succeed. It's not easy starting out on commission so good luck.

I'll give you a few things to think about below and if you give us some more details I can try to get more specific.

1. Be an expert about what you are selling. Take the time to read EVERYTHING about it. Visit the factory if you can and learn how it is made. Know the product, the benefits and the ROI (return on investment) that the client is likely to experience. Sell the ROI.

2. Begin each "transaction" with the referral in mind. Take time to develop rapport and build trust. Proactively create "referral spikes" (times in the sales process when you have EXCEEDED your client's expectation). That is the time to ask for referrals.

3. Invest in a CRM to track your leads, accounts, opportunities and post closing follow up activity. If you actually stay in touch with the people you've done business with and "nurture" the relationship, they will happily become your advocate and refer all kinds of business your way. I use salesforce.com as my CRM. It's a little expensive, but you can download a free open source one such as SugarCRM at first. Track as many metrics as is applicable to accurately measure your progress and predict your income. This gives you data to measure your goals and milestones as well as projecting the prospecting activity you need to do to meet your goals.

4. 93% of communication is not verbal. It is body language, facial expression, tonality and a hundred other non-verbal cues that we humans pick up on. Practice your pitch in front of a mirror and PREPARE. Amateurs "wing it", professionals practice. Study NLP and the Meyers Briggs personality profile system. Know the difference between visual, auditory and kinesthetic communicators and adjust your language and communication style to "mirror" your client.

5. There are many "sales systems" out there. Having a system is important so you can be sure that your customers get the same experience every time. There is no BEST system, but it would just be confusing to try and learn all of them at the same time. Chose ONE system, learn it and become proficient in it, before taking on another one. They are like tools in a toolbox.

6. Don't be afraid to walk away from a sale. If your product or service doesn't meet your client's needs, tell him. I'll even go as far as recommending a competitor if it is obvious that's what they need. This accomplished two things: you gain their respect and trust (making them more likely to refer business to you) and most importantly, lets you sleep at night.

7. Save some money for the hard times. You WILL have a bad month every so often. Your bills WON'T go away. 'nuff said.

8. Master time management. Your income is directly proportional to the activities you do. If you become more efficient at your activities, the money stays the same and your free time increases. If you don't manage time well, you'll be working 14 hour days. It will take a while to progress to the point where you can predict how many sales calls you need to make to close 'X' number of deals, to make 'X' number of dollars. That's where having a CRM and being consistent about tracking everything comes in handy.

This list is getting longer than I intended. Let us know more about what I asked you at the beginning so I can give you better advice.

Good luck.


#10

This is excellent advice, especially number #8. To be honest, I would take someone who is dedicated and driven who sucks at selling, over someone who is a good at selling but lazy. I love sales. You are rewarded for your time and effort, unlike many jobs where they just want you to show up and punch a time card. You are also less expendable; when a company is thinking of laying people off, you will definitely be the last on their list.


#11

Sales is about providing value to a customer, not lying to them. I'm sure that there are still a few miserable souls that fit the stereotypical "greasy used car salesman" image, but they are few and far between. Technology and access to information has truly leveled the playing field for most products and services. Sometimes people know more about the product they are buying than the person selling it to them!

If a person or company is in the market for a product (be it a house, car, watch, computer network, outsourced payroll processing, etc... ) there are usually plenty of providers for said product. Sales is simply developing a relationship that encourages them to buy YOUR product over all of the others.

If your product doesn't meet their needs they won't buy it.

As for the "tricks" you are referring to, using psychology and proven strategies will increase the likelihood of a sale, what's wrong with that? Your job is to sell a product or service - the better you do your job, the more money you make, the better off your lifestyle and ability to provide for your family is. This is what capitalism is based on...

You don't need a degree in most cases, you are only limited by your production and your skill or lack thereof, and your willingness to give up the stability of a salary...

Personally, I have been invited to many of my clients weddings, parties and other events. They consistently send me referrals of people that trust and respect them, because they trust and respect me and know I will never lie to client. I don't think they would do that if I were just a manipulative scumbag.

I would invite you to reconsider your view point about salespeople. You are lumping the amateurs in with the professionals.


#12

What has helped me in being more efficient in my job, is qualifying my leads. In our organization we use SCOTSMAN - http: //www.jonathanfarrington.com/resources/articles.php?category_id=14&article_id=27

Copy/paste and remove the space after the http: to go to the website. The guy also has a good sales blog :slight_smile:

If I can tick all the boxes then I'll go in to do the demo.

Does your organization have something like that in place?

We also work with a weekly forecast, so I can keep track of all the quotes I sent out and I can see what is expected to come in.

Can't live without a CRM system to keep all the customer contact info.

Hope this helps.


#13

Ok, I have been in sales for over 15 years and have always been highly successful. Now the theory that you have to lie and manipulate is bullshit, that is what you do to become a shitty salesman. To be a good salesman, first learn every faucet of your product business etc., then learn everything about your competition, get some key selling points on how your product is better than your competition. Then as you get objections, figure out what to say to overcome them.

Go over scenarios in your head where a customer will say no, then try and overcome that. Just because someone says no doesnt mean that they wont buy. Also just be honest and state facts about your products, if you lie and manipulate then you have so many pissed off people to deal with you cant make any money. And always ask for the sale.


#14

Also think about a time where you bought something and you walked out and thought "man that guy knew his shit, I am going back to him when i need something else, he took really good care of me" think about that experience that you had. Try to give your customers the same experience when they buy something from you. If you can pull this off and perfect it over time you will always be successful.


#15

Good advice for the most part though I wouldn't personally waste time on Meyers Briggs or NLP (you are either someone that people warm to or you aren't I don't think listening for verbal ticks as to whether someone is visual or auditory works, NLP has failed every scientific test ever tried on it.)

On the time management side, coming in early is better than staying late, it is more productive and it reflect better to management. If you come in early you look like you are keen and working hard. If you stay late, you look like you are not managing your time correctly.

Always update your task list before you leave in the evening, then review it in the morning when you get to work. If you leave it till the morning to update your task list you will have forgotten things.

Block out time in your calendar for paperwork etc. If you don't then other things will fill that time.

Don't what ever you do check internet forums from work. They will eat your life!


#16

wtf? You don't think people ever actually want to buy something?


#17

If you are getting that many leads, figure out a way to qualify them early so you can focus on those who will close.


#19

Sorry Ponce...

There are three groups of sales people that I hate with all my soul and the power of 1,000 legions of demons

  1. Sales/Fitness Coaches/Douche Bags at Ballys
  2. Car Dealer sales people. YOU CANNOT TELL ME WHY A FORD SUPER DUTY IS A LESSER VEHICLE IN COMPARISON TO A CHEVY. YOU WILL NOT TEACH ME ANYTHING ON THE SUBJECT OF AUTOMOTIVE TECHNOLOGY!
  3. Realtors.

#20

My whore of a Realtor can catch an infectious case of herpes sucking off a donkey for all I care. It would be nice if she took me off the email list too.


#21

There are very strict rules governing the use of email for business. Each email should have an 'unsubscribe' link at the bottom if it is a bulk email (not sent personally to you). If there isn't, it could cost her a lot of money.


#22

Buy em a taco.


#23

oooohhhhh Shizzel... I'm gonna have to check on that.