Business Operations

Olsen on Sales: Promotional Sales Calls

While the selling process should not be adversarial, customers have a part to play and, as sellers, we have our part to play.

Many sellers are so afraid of the NO that they don’t even ask for the business. They say a version of, “Do you need anything today?,” hoping the customer will do all the seller’s work for them. Others have a bad case of “Beat-Around-the-Bush-itis;” they talk about and around the product, but never ask for the order! These approaches irritate and/or bore customers, which does not lead to business.

While the selling process should not be adversarial, customers have a part to play and, as sellers, we have our part to play. Most relationships have a Stopper (Yin) and a Goer (Yang). We are the Yang in the relationship. Our part is to promote products and ideas to our customers. We cannot serve our way to the top of a sales business.

Expert vs. Winging It
Master Sellers are experts; they make it look easy. Struggling sellers confuse this expertise with “winging it” and try to do the same, which leads to unorganized, uninspired sales calls. Pre-call preparation is a must for great, promotional sales calls.

Pre-call preparations include:
• A product or products to promote. Ideally, we are ready to promote all the items our customer could buy from us ready to promote on every call.
• Minimum three reasons what we are promoting is a good deal. We don’t want to overwhelm the customer, so we give three positive reasons at a time. We can use the same three reasons again, but it’s nice to have more and different reasons our proposal is a good idea when we start to overcome objections.
• Psych up! We must convince ourselves that what we are proposing is a good deal. If we don’t speak with conviction, our customers will not be convinced.
• Make a note to ask for the order and three to five ways to ask.

Promotional Sales Call
After the introductory small talk…
Us: “So Susan, I was thinking about our inventory situation on 2×4. Based on our last conversation, we won’t be needing any to come in until the first of April, right?”
Susan: “That’s about right.”
Us: “Perfect. We just bought a block of 2×4 for mid-March shipment that will arrive to you exactly when you need it. We’ve also got great tally flexibility and the kind of quality you need. We’ve been going through four cars a month, so why don’t we put four on?”
Susan: “What’s the price?”
Us: “That’s the best part, Susan. We’ve got these at $435/MBF, which is a fantastic price, so why don’t we put these on?”
Susan: “I think I’ll just wait. Our business is slow right now and the market is coming off, so I’ll just wait. Call me in a couple weeks and we’ll see.”
Us: “Susan, that’s what everyone is doing, holding off. And that’s why we were able to pick these up at such a great price. You had a record year in 2018 and you’re going to have another great year in 2019. Spring is right around the corner. Let’s put these on.”
Susan: “I’m just going to wait.”
Us: “Last week you told me we were down to two cars unsold on the yard, right?”
Susan: “That’s about right.”
Us: “How much of that is left?”
Susan: “I’d have to check.”
Us: “Can you pull it up now?”
Susan: “I guess so. I’ve got about a car and a half left.”
Us: “So we’re moving about a half a car a week even in the depth of winter. Like I said, spring is around the corner. Your business is going to pick up. Even at current usage levels we’re going to be cutting it close for April, so why don’t we at least put three on?”
Susan: “I don’t know. This market scares me.”
Us: “Scared money doesn’t win, Susan. The market has come off $100/MBF and we are within 5% of the 10-year low on 2×4, so let’s put on two and call it even.”
Susan: “I’ll take one.”
Us: “Thanks for the one. I’ve also got a great deal on some 2×6…”
Susan: “No. That’s enough for one day. My order number is 324. Call me tomorrow.”

Most sellers think this kind of call is impossible. Master Sellers disagree and profit for it.

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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