Business Operations

Olsen on Sales: Beat-Around-the-Bush-It is

I work with many salespeople that are too tentative in their approach at every step of the sales process. This tentativeness is contagious. It infects the customer with a feeling of doubt, which causes them to hesitate and not buy. We, as salespeople, must accept our part in the process.

I work with many salespeople that are too tentative in their approach at every step of the sales process. This tentativeness is contagious. It infects the customer with a feeling of doubt, which causes them to hesitate and not buy. We, as salespeople, must accept our part in the process. We are the promoter, the yang, the straw that stirs the drink. We cannot expect our customer to do our job for us; we must sell them on our idea, not wait for them to do it themselves.

Direct = Honest

The direct salesperson has nothing to hide. The direct salesperson knows that what they are promoting is a good deal for their customers and is proud to say it up front. There is no need to dilly-dally. “This is a good deal for you, let’s do this!” is their attitude. They speak directly and honestly asking for a commitment.

Prospecting

Everyone at our potential account is judging us, including the receptionist and/or anyone who answers the phone. Many sellers act like an intruder and thus are treated like one. The Master Seller has a clear and calm approach when calling a new account. Their pace is not hurried or jumpy. They are relaxed and natural. They speak slowly, clearly and in the lower register of their voice.

Master Seller: “Good morning, this is Susan Johnson, with ABC Fantastic Lumber. I am calling you from Portland, Or. Could you tell me who does your lumber buying please?”

There are no ums, uhs, actuallys (adverbs are weak), or any other filler words. Master Sellers state who they are, whom they are with, and where they are calling from. All of this the person who answers the phone (who is often the owner!) wants to know, even if they don’t know they want to know it. We have scratched itches they didn’t even know they had, which makes them trust us immediately and also helps us stand out from the crowd of nervous or too quick sellers. The nervous seller sends the message, “I am hiding something or I am not an expert,” while the too quick seller sends the message, “I don’t care about you, I am just here for the order,” neither of which is positive.

Inquiry

The Master Seller slows down the inquiry process and makes sure to get ALL the details necessary, and ALL possible options before going out to find what their customer needs. Many sellers rush this process which sends the message, “I just want to get the order.”

The Master Seller asks the following questions and asks about options on each:

(1) What is the item? (2×4 #3 WSPF) Can we use utility? Can we use ESPF? Can we use #3 SYP?

(2) How much? (One truck) Is one going to be enough?

(3) When do we need it to ship? (Two weeks or sooner) Would one week help? Could we live with three weeks? Can we stagger the shipments?

(4) What is the tally? (Straight 16’s) Could we live with a load that is 80% 16’s balance 12’s?

(5) What are we thinking pricewise on this load? The Master Seller makes price a “non-taboo” subject by brining it up in a natural, “no big deal” tone.

(6) When are you going to buy this? This question is essential. Is our potential customer shopping this or are they ready to buy it?

(7) Finally, the Master Seller asks for a commitment UP FRONT. “Will you buy this from me?” or “Will you talk to me before you buy this?” (Which I prefer to “Will you give me last look?” which invites/begs for a counter.)

The Master Seller then sets a firm appointment to call back: “OK, John. It’s 2:00 now. How about I give you a call at 4:00 and we can put this together?”

Closing

Ninety percent of salespeople do not ask directly for the business. They present the product and wait for the customer to buy. The Master Seller is simple and matter of fact when asking: “OK, Samantha, there are the details, so how many of these do we want to put on?”

“OK, Bob, this is a great deal, so can I have your P.O. on this?”

Stop beating around the bush and sell more today.

James Olsen

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