Professional Sales is all About Solving Problems

In professional sales today it is easy to get confused or diverted in the complexity of the job.  Things don’t need to be complex; the best salespeople solve problems for their clients in a simple and direct way.  When you really understand that, you can see the ways to improve your career.

Consider these questions:

  • What problems are out there today now to solve in your industry?
  • Can you solve those problems better than your competitors?  If so how?
  • Do your customers or clients know that they have a problem to solve?

Three simple questions like this can lead to opportunity and business growth providing you really know the answers.

The sales opportunities open up for you when you can deliver a logical solution that helps your clients in some form or another.  ‘Logic’ supports the sales process in business today.  That could be in:

  • Shorter turnaround times
  • A better market share
  • Cost savings in processes or raw materials
  • Quality improvements in product or service
  • Deliverable strategies that help with customer service

Here are some valuable marketing ideas and concepts to help your sales positioning:

  1. Specialise more than you generalise.  When you specialise you create more value and lessen the impact of competitors from your market.  When you really are the ‘best of the best’, clients need you more than you need them.  That’s a great concept don’t you think?
  2. Have the best market information to use in your sales pitches and presentations.  Use comparisons and stories from the market to attract and drive the interest of your clients.  They like to know that others in your town or city have similar challenges; then they like to hear about successful outcomes.
  3. As a general rule don’t discount your prices unless absolutely necessary.  The only thing that should drive a discount is a client with repeating orders or large orders.  You can assess that when you strike a high value client.
  4. Take a strategic approach with your market so you connect with higher value clients or those that can be over time.

I go back to the point that a successful salesperson is generally a person that solves problems in a comprehensive and beneficial way for their clients.  Revisit your personal business plan to see if that is your focus.

Tell Stories of Failure as Part of Your Sales Pitch

It may seem a bit strange but you can use stories of ‘failure’ as part of your sales pitch.  By ‘failure’ I mean situations where other clients and prospects really made the wrong choices and suffered as a consequence.  That simple illustration can help your current clients see the advantage of fresh new ideas and perhaps the recommendations made as part of your sales pitch today.

Clients don’t want to make mistakes.  A ‘failure’ situation is actually something that can help your current clients move ahead in a positive way and in doing so avoid any poor decisions.

So here are the rules to the process:

  1. Tell stories from the market and provide real life facts and information.
  2. A failure situation is actually a valuable lesson to someone.  Your current clients may appreciate that knowledge.
  3. Make connections between your current clients situation and the ‘failure event’ so they know that it is relevant and real.
  4. From the failure you can work up recommendations and alternatives.  Every client likes to have a few alternatives to consider.
  5. Put yourself in the solution and in the story.  Show the client the timeline to progress as you see it and break it up into stages of action.  Small simple steps are the easy way to move through a problem.

It is fairly easy to pitch on a sale situation if you follow these rules.  It is simple sales logic.  The client doesn’t want to make a mistake; they will listen to you.  You become the solution process.  The depth of your recommendations and solutions will help the client move ahead.  That’s how you can close on a sales pitch.

Using Words that Sell to Improve Your Pitch

In professional sales, most of the things you say can support your focus towards a sale or customer relationship.  It is easy to see that the process of speech and dialogue is really important if you want to get anywhere in your career as a top salesperson.

Consider how you do your job now.  It is likely to be a mixture of some or all of the following:

  • Prospecting
  • Meetings
  • Submitting a proposal
  • Pitching for new business
  • Negotiating
  • Showing the product or service
  • After sale support and service
  • Building referral opportunities

At the centre of all of these things you will find ‘dialogue’; that is the words and phrases that you use when connecting with your clients and customers.  When you use the best words that match your message and product, then the sales process gets a lot easier.  You will find that well-chosen words reflect the skills of the person and the pitch.

To help with this ‘verbal equation’ you can practice the words that you use in sales and in business.  Sales team role playing and feedback will help you do this.  You can also get a good book of words and phrases that sell; that are ‘sales and communication based’.  Some words will match your market and your customers more than others.  You can make the choices based on how you like to connect with your clients.

There are so many words that can be used in a client or sales situation; you probably only need about 25 of them.  Over time you can find and practice some more words into your sales pitch.

This whole concept is quite logical, and yet so many salespeople do not take the steps to improve their verbal skills for client contact.  If your career is based on your commission and results achieved, now would be a good time to start the practice process on words that match your market and client base sales focus.  Twice a week take the time out to practice your sales approach, words, and presentational skills.  The rewards are many.

Use a Gantt Chart in Your Sales Presentation

When you are selling or pitching your services it is important that you stand out as relevant and real as a professional in your industry.  One of the ways that you can do that is by offering the client or prospect a timeline or timetable of actions to be taken.  It will show how you will take them forward.

A timetable process is a tool of presentation and will help the client when it comes to the final agreement.  It is easy for the client to see what is about to happen and why.  It helps them make a decision.

Here are some tips to help you with this process:

  1. Get a graphing package that allows you to create and use GANTT charts.  They are timed based methods of display.
  2. Whilst you can have a graph for each product or service offering, create a personal graph for the client that you are working with.
  3. The beginning of the display graph should be where the client is today, and the end of the process is the ideal position of where they want to be.
  4. If you have a complex product or service then you may need quite a few stages in the graphing process.  In the most complex of situations you can use a ‘PERT’ graph to comprehensively display the stages to the transaction or order.  In that situation, the PERT graph is used before you use the GANTT chart.
  5. If you want to see examples of PERT graphing you can get a good set of examples from the internet or in a professional graphing software package.

If you have any challenges of supply and lead times to the end result for the client, then you will need to handle that in the graphing timeline.  If you are getting goods and services from your overseas suppliers the same rules apply.  Understand the time factors and feed them into your presentational material.

The Easy Way to Sell Your Services – Provide Choices

No client or prospect likes to be pressured.  The days of a ‘canned’ sales pitch are well gone.  The clients and the prospects that we serve are well placed and very experienced to make choices.  In fact I would go so far as to say that they expect choices to be provided as well as your recommendations as part of any professional service.

All of us have seen the ‘push’ approach in sales; customers today are inclined to back away from any ‘pushy’ salesperson unless ‘desperation’ is part of the buying equation.

Choices give a client or a prospect the respect that they deserve; they also have a feeling of trust when the choice process is implemented.

Here are some rules to help you with this ‘golden rule of selling’.  See if you can improve the approach that you make in client contact and with your business presentations:

  1. Choices help you close the sale.  In fact, the client will ‘close’ themselves with the choices you provide if you plan them well.
  2. Show the client just what is available today and how easily they can purchase.
  3. Show the client how the various options that you offer can be implemented.  Make it easy for them to move ahead.
  4. Make clear recommendations based on 3 or so options that you put forward.
  5. Tell some stories about other clients and prospects that had similar challenges and just how they solved their problem in a positive way.
  6. Have plenty of pictures and graphs to support your marketing material.  Facts and figures should always be supported by graphs and pictures.  Clients tend to believe what they ‘see’, rather than what they read.
  7. Key questions will help the client handle challenges.  Questions will help them move through an issue and look at a method of resolve.
  8. Big negotiation problems can be handled by the use of a ‘Freudian Slip’ process.  You simply ask the client lots of questions around and about their problem.  Soon they will be giving you the answer that they need to make a purchase.
  9. Provide some testimonials to give the client or prospect some comfort as they move towards an agreement or final decision.

All of this is based on common sense.  There is no need to ‘push’ your products and services through to a sale.  Offer alternatives to your clients and prospects and show them how easy the choices are.  Give them the ‘logic’ to move ahead.  Allow real trust to develop as part of the client contact process.

Assemble a Top Class Marketing Packet

When you work in professional sales, you must have a marketing packet that is of the highest quality.  It must support you in every way possible given your market conditions, competition, product, and service.  You should know what’s in it and how to put your fingers on the right bit of information relative to the active connection with the client or prospect that you are making.

Some salespeople do this quite well, whilst others do not.  A client will view the condition and relevance of your presentational materials before they will listen to the story that you have to tell.

So what can or should you put in your presentation packet?  Here are a few ideas to get started:

  • Ensure that the packet or folder is very professional in appearance. That will mean a black folder with all relevant information placed inside.  It should be clean and not damaged through any ‘over use’.
  • Include ‘visual’ charts and graphs to help your clients understand the trends and changes in your industry.
  • Have colour brochures relating to your products and services.
  • Carry plenty of business cards ready to use
  • Company information and testimonials
  • Photographs of samples, and other client situations
  • Price lists plus order or agreement forms
  • A history of successful situations and stories from other clients that can be referred to
  • Letter of introduction will be useful to leave with the client or prospect
  • Statement of benefits available when using your products or services
  • Press clippings relative to your industry and market share

The keys to winning new business include professional tools like these.  Preparation is the rule here.  Let the client or prospect see that you are professionally competent and skilled in the right way to help them.  Beyond that point everything comes down to what you say and the confidence you convey.