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A Master Salesperson
By Tom Shay, CSP, Profits+Plus

All of us have experienced the occasion of observing, a sales person demonstrating extraordinary skills. If you have had the opportunity of interacting with this salesperson, a master of legendary service, undoubtedly it was a pleasant experience you will long remember.

All of us have experienced the occasion of observing, a sales person demonstrating extraordinary skills. If you have had the opportunity of interacting with this salesperson, a master of legendary service, undoubtedly it was a pleasant experience you will long remember.

All of us with the responsibility of supervising any number of sales people have wished we could clone the extraordinary salesperson, knowing our sales would reflect a very substantial increase. While the inner drive fueling the master of legendary service is a study within itself, there are several skills that we can observe and educate our sales people with.

The masters of legendary service are skilled in utilizing five types of questions to learn more about customers, their needs, and to close the sale. The masters, regardless of what industry they are a part of, also know the three things they are selling and what in sequence they should be presented to the customer.

The master will begin their conversation with a prospective customer by engaging with an "open" or "probing" question or statement. The open format can be as simple as a statement welcoming the customer, thanking the customer for allowing the sales person to call on the prospective customer, or inviting a comment in a "neutral area" such as the weather, or a local sports team.

Utilizing the probing technique requires the master having some additional information about the customer. This would occur for the inside sales person when the customer has "landed" at a particular display, or is examining a brochure,or other similar information.

For the outside salesperson, the probing question can initially be used when the sales call is proceeded by an inquiry by the customer. They have asked you to bring information on a product or service they are interested in. The probing questions are appropriate at this point because the sales person has the ability to ask what prompted the customer's interest in the product or service, or why the customer is looking at the product or service.

Using a "why" opens the door for additional probing questions. "What has prompted you to look at this item?" The answer will probably include explanations of the problems with the previous item they owned, or the announcement of a change in needs, or even newly available discretionary income.

Armed with this insight, the master sales person is able to continue with the necessary questions which precede the closing of the sale.

The third type of question a master can utilize is a close ended question. The master will use the question in several places. The close ended question can be a part of the assumed sale when the master asks the customer how they would like to pay for the item. The master can also use the close ended question to create an add on sale.

Imagine the customer, having made a selection of an item,being asked by the master, "Is one enough, or would two be better?" The master knows 17% of the time, the customer will decide to take the second item.

By definition, the close ended question is one in which the answer is "yes" or "no". The close ended question is the most frequently used type of question. Unfortunately, we all experience it every day with the lesser quality salesperson as they are asking, "Can I help you?"

The fourth type of question is as often a statement as it is a question. The emotional question or statement can give reinforcement of the relationship with the customer with an

"I value your opinion", or a question/statement of "I know you have purchased this brand in the past. How do you like this year's new models?"

In examining the four questions we have already discussed, it is important to explain that the four can often be used in conjunction with each other, in a variety of sequences, as well as blended so to create the appropriate scenario for the master. These four being reviewed, the fifth question remains, and is set apart for reasons which will be explained.

The "leading" question, while a type of question a master is aware of, is used sparingly. A sales person known for being pushy or a high-pressure sales person is more apt to use the leading question. Any example of the leading question can be observed when the customer has shown a preference for a lower priced product, and the sales person responds by asking, "You don't really want to purchase the lesser quality set, do you? You know it will not last as long."

While this may help to close a sale, the master does not utilize it because he or she recognizes the long term value of the customer. It is not simply the dollars generated by the commission of this one sale. Instead, the master is aware of the lifetime value of the customer.

For those looking for a monetary value of this, calculate the average sale of the business multiplied by the number of purchases per year by the customer, again multiplied by the number of years a customer will shop with the business.

Now, look at the commission, or profit, from this calculation. This is a much larger amount of money, and the master being aware of it, is looking for the long term relationship as compared for the "quick sale".

Lastly, the master is aware of the three items he, or she, is selling. As a master enters into an interaction with a customer, they are expending their efforts to sell themselves to the customer. They build a relationship utilizing the questions appropriate for the situation, and assist the customer in achieving a level of comfort with the sales person as well as a level of satisfaction in the knowledge of the master.

The master then sells the business in which they work. A master can often explain to the customer that this is the business they have selected to work in, as it is the most harmonious to the master's business philosophy.

After a master has sold their self and the business, they are now free to sell their product or service. And when the customer is ready to make another purchase, the first thing they will decide will be to talk to the master of legendary service.



Tom Shay presents proven and time tried ideas on the topics of: promoting, customer loyalty, business management design, employee skills development, and financial control. You may reach him at www.profitsplus.org or tomshay@profitsplus.org

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