Lots of good suggestions here. I particularly like Brian Tracy and Zig Ziglar.
I’m going to suggest a somewhat contentious one, but it is hands down the best sales program I have ever encountered, and I’ve read a LOT of books and listened to a LOT of audio. It’s Tony Robbins’ “The Power To Influence: Sales Mastery Course.” It is a full multi-day seminar on audio with a 175 page study booklet that goes along with it. It breaks down the sales process into it’s most core elements and then structures a step by step, easy to follow, highly systematic approach to selling that can be modified to many different situations. Most sales instructional courses and books are structured around selling products, which I have sometimes found frustrating, as I sell a service, but I found this seminar to be easily applicable to my situation and it was a MASSIVE help to me in getting my business off the ground and establishing my own sales system for my business. Think what you will of his self-help stuff, this course is extremely valuable.
There is a PDF of the study packet available online (link below), but I HIGHLY recommend getting the 6 CD audio course. It’s good stuff. No vagaries or hype aimed at pumping you up. Just a full on, complete course jam packed with usable, concrete stuff.
Thanks for this suggestion! I will be checking this out.
What kind of service do you sell? I’ve encountered the same issue… there is absolutely a difference in strategy and psychology between selling widgets and services!
I own an English school for kids here in Japan. We teach from basically babies up to high school seniors. It’s extra-curricular and not connected with their schools, and it isn’t cheap for the parents. This is not actually a problem in Japan, where everyone is pretty much enervated against sticker shock because everything here is ridiculously overpriced, but it is still quite a commitment for a parent to agree to pay almost $100US a month plus material fees for something that it is often difficult to measure the value of and for which they have to wait a long time to see the results.
One thing I have learned though, much of it through the program I recommend above,is that, at the core, selling a product and selling a service are actually NOT that different. The basic rules are the same. You need to establish the necessity or value of your service (product), then show how not having this service (product) is going to cause them pain, then offer them the solution to cure them of that pain. All the while demonstrating that the particular features of your service (product) are superior to those the prospect would find at one of our competitors.
What makes selling a service seem more difficult, I have found, is that you are often dealing in the abstract and unknown rather than the concrete and tangible. However, think of it this way. If you want to sell a Mercedes, what are you going to do? Same stuff I just mentioned: You find the prospects emotional reasons for buying (probably status), his logical reasons for buying (maybe quality, value) and his dominant reason against buying (possibly price or maybe he wants a Jaguar instead). Using questions, you find these thing out and you work on creating an image in his head that involves those beliefs. So the car itself is an object, but the way you approach selling it still must involve creating fantasy scenarios in the head of the prospect.
I will add that solid, consistent, marketing makes selling A LOT easier. It was WAY harder for us to close the first couple of years, because we were new and no one knew who we were or if they could trust us, so we had to do most of our rapport building after they walked in the door. Now most sales are nearly decided before they walk in the door.