Top Selling Tips: The Ten Commandments of Selling

I’m often asked what are the essential rules of selling. While there are many, here are my Ten Commandments of Selling based on recommendations I’ve made to clients throughout the years:

I. Google/LinkedIn every decision maker
Far too often, we we’ll run to a prospective client meeting without understanding their professional background and many other points to their CV critical to establishing rapport. Google and LinkedIn (my favorite) are easy, readily available tools that you must use to learn about anyone with whom you are meeting.

II. Write out the probing questions you’ll ask
I’ve written about probing questions quite a bit. So, you’ll know how much importance I put on them. Asking well thought out questions is critical. However, you must know what they are before entering into a conversation. Write them down! Trust me…if you don’t, you’ll forget the best one right when you need it. 

III. Be optimistic, curious and patient
You can’t sell if you’re not optimistic. You can’t illustrate empathy without being curious, and you can’t determine the exact client solution without being patient.

IV. Listen first, sell second
In my book (Beating the Deal Killers), I’ve focused heavily on the importance of remaining patient with clients, having restraint and keeping yourself in check even when you have the burning desire to sell when it is too soon to do so. You’ll get your turn. In the meantime, listen and learn so that you can make even smarter recommendations.

V. Understand and playback your client’s goals and challenges
What will you hear when you listen? You’ll hear your clients goals, frustrations, challenges, and roadblocks. Demonstrate you understand the situation by clearly communicating it back to them. “You said that sales are flat because the team doesn’t communicate the value proposition well enough.”  Once you have agreement that you comprehend the situation, then you can make your recommendations. 

VI. Know and deliver your value proposition in sixty seconds
Following the example above, how well do you know YOUR value proposition? You must be ready to crystallize it in one minute. During your actual meeting certainly you’ll draw out your offering in thorough detail but, you must know it in sixty seconds to recap and close your meetings.

VII. Preempt client questions/objections
Too often, sales people will not spend enough time anticipating, and preemptively answering, client questions and objectives. This severely hurts your image and ability to solve the challenges you’ve uncovered. On-the-fly recommendations come across as just that while anticipated, researched and solidified ones make a bigger impact.

VIII. Determine all decision makers/stakeholders and ask to be introduced to them
Are you talking to the right people? This is mission-critical to succeeding yet sometimes getting the meeting with “anyone” is considered a victory. It is but, if you aren’t speaking to the decision maker(s), then you must ask who they are and for an introduction when appropriate. It’s professional and efficient.

IX. Close the meeting with the appropriate next step, put forth a critical path
Always close the meeting relationally by recapping your client’s goals/challenges and what you and they can/should do next. You must leave every meeting knowing what your deliverables are, what theirs are and the deadlines you have to make. Communicate it so that there is agreement on both sides that these are the next steps.

X. Follow up within 24 hours
Email a recap/thank you note to each decision maker by the close of business that day or, at the very least, within 24 hours. It shows that their business is important and, you want it!

The best of success in all your selling/consulting efforts.

Have a Heart: The Responsibility of Consulting/Selling

A while back, I did some consulting with a major retailer in the men’s luxury garment area. My task was to assess their sales teams throughout the US and create a development plan to increase their sales.

One of the first steps I recommended was that I peform a “secret shopper” evaluation to understand their current selling environment. It didn’t take me long to notice something peculiar. The stores were regal and inviting with elegantly presented garments. The sales people were impeccably dressed with great posture. But there was one thing missing…HEART.

I couldn’t find any.

Be Welcoming

When I shared this observation with my client, he lamented that each store was designed to feel as though you were in a person’s living room.

“Funny,” I said,” because when anyone comes into my living room, I ask how their day was, how they’re feeling, what type of beverage they’d enjoy and where they plan on vacationing this year.”

Essentially the hosting role I play is the same role they needed to play and they weren’t.

Be a Good Host

An author client of mine summed it up perfectly; once you’ve invited someone into your home or gain their attention you have a obligation to “host” them for the time they devote to you. They are giving you their time and from this action you have a responsibility to make their time productive. You accomplish this by being a gracious host. Being interested, actually very interested/curious in them is the first key to professional consulting and selling.

When you are with a client pretend they’re in your living room for a Friday evening dinner party…

Let me know how it goes…

Selling: Is It Art or Science?

My answer? Yes.

But, if I had to choose one or the other…selling is a science. But I will acknowledge that possessing artful selling skills is very important.
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My Third Lesson in Selling

Having moved on from the insurance world to the world of training and development I began consulting with a mega star in commercial real estate. He was the vice chairman of the firm and a brilliant negotiator and consultant. He spoke passionately about New York City real estate and could untiringly debate an issue.

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