Business Operations

Olsen on Sales: Controlling the Call

The majority of sellers are too nervous, under-prepared, or just don’t now how to control sales conversations. Most don’t even think they should.

The majority of sellers are too nervous, under-prepared, or just don’t now how to control sales conversations. Most don’t even think they should. “Why would I try to control the conversation? I’m a relationship seller; I want to get along with my customers in a smooth, non-confrontational way. If I try to control the call it will make my customers uncomfortable.”

The opposite is true and Master Sellers know it. The person who is uncomfortable is the struggling salesperson. Customers love it when a seller knows exactly what their value proposition is and can promote it in a passionate way. Sellers who are “waiting for the customer to buy” make the buyer do all the work. The Master Seller makes it easy to say yes by having all the reasons why what they’re promoting is a good deal, with many options that will work.

 

Changing the Subject

When customers start talking about negative things many sellers commiserate with them. Master Sellers agree a little, then segue to something positive.

Customer: “Aw, heck with this rain we won’t be buying anything till June.”

Quotron (in a weak, whiny tone): “I know it’s terrible. It’s raining all over the country. We are slow, too. Is there anything you need?”

Vs.:

Customer: “Aw, heck with this rain we won’t be buying anything till June.”

Master Seller: “And that’s exactly why I called you, Tom. We’ve got a program on the 2×4 104 5/8 you like.  We put these together for late May shipment. We’ve got a great price on them. How many can you use?”

 

Questions = Control = Sales

The person asking the questions is controlling the call. Most sellers answer customer questions like dutiful school children responding to the principal of their grade school; they answer, then wait for the next question. Master Sellers answer the question and ask a question of their own.

Customer: “What’s your price on 2×4 92 5/8” today?”

Quotron: “$450/MBF”

Customer: “When can they ship?”

Quotron: “Two weeks or sooner.”

Customer: “OK, thanks. I appreciate it. I’ll let you know.”

Vs.:

Customer: “What’s your price on 2×4 92 5/8” today?”

Master Seller: “We’ve got some great deals on studs today. How many do you need?”

Customer: “One for quick and one for three weeks out.”

Master Seller: “I can do those shipments. Do you have some order numbers for me?”

Customer: “What’s the price?”

Master Seller: “That’s the best part. We can get these into you at $450/MBF, which is a great deal in this market.  Do you want to put those on?”

In the example the Master Seller waits to give the price and ask for the order until he knows exactly what the customer is looking for. Note: Our closing percentage isn’t based on calls made, emails sent, or questions answered—but on how many times we ask for the order per year.

 

Non-Answer Answers

A non-answer answer is an answer that sides-steps our question. To control our calls, we need to be aware of non-answers and deal with them.

Quotron: “Tom, I’ve got a great deal on some studs, how many do you need?”

Customer: “I’m OK on studs for now.”

Quotron: “How long can you wait before you have to buy?”

Customer: “I guess we’ll be alright for a bit.”

Vs.:

Master Seller: “Tom, I’ve got a great deal on some studs, how many can you use?”

Customer: “I’m OK on studs for now.”

Master Seller: “How long can you wait before you have to buy?”

Customer: “I guess we’ll be alright for a bit.”

Master Seller: “Tom, I’ve got in my notes that you’re going through about six trucks a month, so how many studs do you have on the yard?”

Customer: “I’d have to check my inventory.”

Master Seller: “Tom, you’re at your desk, why don’t we pull it up now?”

The Master Seller now has a chance to get an order. In addition, knowing the customer’s inventory on studs sets up the next call, whether we get the order or not, whereas the Quotron is in the dark on this call and the next… and the next….

When we control our calls, we control our destiny.

James Olsen

James Olsen is the founder of Reality Sales Training, Portland, Or. After 20 years in sales with Nike, North Pacific Lumber, and Forest City Trading, in 2001 James started his own sales training business, devoted to helping companies and individuals achieve rapid sales growth. Contact him at (503) 544-3572 or james@realitysalestraining.com.

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