Are You Losing Sales? It’s Probably The Last 3 Feet.

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Successful outcomes are the result of many different elements including preparation, practice, and skill.  With every action comes a reaction and the intensity of that reaction can be linked to the effectiveness of the originating action.  If you walk at a slow pace for exercise it will take longer to work up a sweat as opposed to a brisk walk or even a jog where you will sweat much quicker.  Action versus reaction.

How often have you left a sales call wondering where things went wrong?  You didn’t get the business.  The prospect seemed on board but decided to go in a different direction.  That reaction, whether we’d like to admit it or not is the direct result of an action we took at some point during the sales process.  In fact, the primary action that results in lost sales is communication.  Clarity of communication, followed by the ability to process that communication, is where many sales people fall flat.

In his book Exceptional Selling, Jeff Thull talks about “the last three feet” as being the distance that separates a prospect from a sales person sitting across a table from one another.   How often have you felt you’ve done everything right and in your final meeting – in that last three feet – with the prospect, you learn they decided against doing business with you?  It’s happened to us all at least once.  If you have been selling for years it’s most likely happened hundreds of times.  But why?

The main reason for this disconnect centers around a miss fire in communication.  You either said something to the prospect that turned them off, or you said the right thing that disqualified them as a prospect but you were too stubborn to see it.  We’ve all been taught to never walk away from a sales opportunity.  Further we  have been told for years that everyone is a prospect.  These ideas are just flat-out false.  Not everyone is a prospect and the quicker you find out who presents a real opportunity the better you’ll become at selling.  Remember your time, money, and energy are only of value to you so protect them.  The faster you can sort the real opportunities from the imaginary the better.

Watch for my next blog when I’ll present a sales strategy I have used with great success that eliminates the risk of the last three feet.

 

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The Most Important Sales Question You Need To Ask

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Selling is a combination of both art and science.  It requires intelligence, curiosity, study, and practice.  Unfortunately too many books have been written by self-proclaimed gurus who are running around promoting persuasion, influence and manipulation.  As a life-long sales professional I cringe when I hear these tactics being promoted as the Holy Grail of selling.  Learn how to persuade a buyer and you’ll be golden.  Wrong.  Persuasion is only temporary if it’s not grounded in something more significant or substantive to the buyer.  While beating the buyer into submission is one way to approach sales I’d suggest a much different path.  Something that requires a fair amount of mental horsepower, patience and agility.  This approach can be summed up in one question…So What?

Sales people have been trained…brainwashed…into force feeding a prospect through a rigid selling process.  The problem is that most sales processes are inward focused and aligned to what their organization does and is capable of delivering.  They rarely take the customers viewpoint into consideration.  This results in the sales person trying to find a way to wiggle into the prospective buyers wallet, often times not knowing or caring whether there is a real or tangible need for their product.

So how can you avoid falling into the stereotypical sales rep persona?  Ask this one questions before and after your customer interactions – So what?  This product has  a 98% satisfaction rating!  So what?  My company has been around for 100 years.  So what?  We pay the highest commission rates in the industry.  So what?  I’ve helped many business owners like you improve their profits.  So what?

I’m sure many of those statements sound familiar.  You may have even used one or two of them before.  But so what?  What does your satisfaction rating mean to me the buyer?  Why should I care?  Too many times sales reps lob a one-liner out there and let it hang.  They believe that it’s such a powerful statement that the buyer must believe it too, yet we know this isn’t the case.

Once you begin to challenge yourself with the “So What?” question you’ll find yourself having different conversations with your customer and asking different questions.  You’ll begin to interact with your customer on a different level.  Your genuine new-found interest in what’s important to your customer will be seen and felt.  And while this may not guarantee a sale it will guarantee that you’ll be better prepared to separate the true prospects versus those who simply clog our pipelines who are not fits, matches, or beneficiaries of the value we provide.  Having this power will help you close more business that is a true fit while quickly sorting through the business that isn’t, saving you time, money, and energy that you can then direct toward those prospects who can truly benefit from the value you offer.

Happy selling!