Read an Excerpt
The two key questions that sales professionals most often ask us are: 1) How can I close more sales? and 2) What can I do to reduce objections?
After more than sixty years in the sales training business, we've learned the answer to those questions is pretty straightforward. Frankly, you learn how to sell.
That's not the answer most people expect to hear, but it's one we truly believe. No matter how much we want to find otherwise, there's no magic formula that eliminates objections or increases closing ratios. Overcoming objections and gaining commitment are both logical outcomes of a successful sales process. You want to meet a good closer? Find a good salesperson who truly understands how to sell.
It's often hard to believe that top performers need to learn how to sell. Yet we have encountered an extraordinary number of experienced and successful sales professionals who have discovered our statement to be true. In fact, by consistently practicing and applying proven principles, they've been able to increase sales and earn more money than they ever thought possible.
That tells us the Sales Advantage process is a proven way to build relationships and enhance your sales career, no matter how long you've been selling.
Don't get us wrong. We're not saying that learning the sales process is easy. And we're certainly not implying that we can sell today the same way we sold ten years ago -- we can't. It's a different world out there. Customer attitudes have changed. Technology is breaking down barriers between nations but creating different kinds of barriers between our customers and us. Companies are downsizing. Territories are expanding. We're being asked to generate more sales with fewer resources. And it doesn't stop there.
These issues represent a variety of daily challenges. For example, it's tough when a customer promises a signed contract on Wednesday and she buys from a competitor on Tuesday. It's frustrating to handle service issues on a day when we plan to do nothing but prospect for new opportunities. It's hard to realize that, after months of building a relationship with a "decision-maker," the actual decision-maker is someone we've never met. Sure, technology and globalization are changing the world of selling. But honestly, most of us are more concerned about how to overcome the hurdles we face on the job every day.
Learning how to sell using the Sales Advantage tools and principles will increase the odds that we'll overcome these challenges successfully. How? By learning to see the buying and selling process from the customer's point of view. With that ideal as our foundation, we'll then learn to use timeless and proven tools. These tools will help us build credibility, uncover the customer's Dominant Buying Motive, and develop strong business relationships that lead to referrals and repeat sales. In the end, when we offer a solution to a customer, we'll be more confident that it is the right solution, instead of just hoping it is.
Look at it this way: How can we sell the total value of our products and services if we haven't learned how to gather information in a way that tells us what's important to the customer? How can we maximize our prospecting efforts without a strategic approach for finding and evaluating new opportunities? How can we get past frustrating barriers, such as voice mail, if we don't know the basics of good account penetration? How can we be prepared to address objections if we don't fully understand the customer's primary interest and buying criteria? When we consider these questions, it becomes pretty evident why a thorough understanding of the entire buying and selling process is a critical element in any successful sales career.
As you embark on your voyage to improve your sales skills, you will understand why learning how to sell using an effective process gives you an edge in the marketplace. If you become committed to making these tools and principles a part of your selling strategy, you will stand out from thousands of salespeople who simply sell on instinct. Your prospects and customers will view you differently when you meet with them. Instead of thinking, "Here's another salesperson," they'll think, "Here's someone who can help me. Here's someone I trust."
As you read this book, we would like to offer four suggestions to help you get the maximum benefit for your time invested:
KEEP AN OPEN MIND
Our real life examples come from people who live in the selling trenches every day. They know what it's like to leave twenty messages for someone and never get a return phone call. They were once skeptical about trying a new approach, but did it anyway and got results. They've hit sales plateaus and found ways to overcome them. The bottom line: Every successful selling tool mentioned in these examples has been tried and proven by a sales professional somewhere in the world. If they can do it, so can you. Open your mind to the possibilities.
AIM FOR EVOLUTION, NOT REVOLUTION
Because the Sales Advantage covers the entire sales process, it contains numerous principles and tools. We're not asking you to try all of them at once. In fact, we encourage you to apply them at a pace that's realistic for you. Try one new thing. Get comfortable with it. Then try another. And another. And continue until you eventually evolve your selling skills to a higher level of performance. Dale Carnegie always said, "The 'sure thing' boat never gets far from the shore." In other words, don't be afraid to take a chance and try something new. At the same time, don't overwhelm yourself by making too many changes too fast.
TRY THE ACTION STEPS AND SELLING TIPS
We all like a little immediate gratification -- things we can do right away that might have a positive impact on our results. To that end, this book contains action steps and helpful tips you can realistically apply in your job today. Whether you sell products, services, or ideas, we hope you will find these suggestions useful.
All the while, don't lose sight of how these ideas fit into the process as a whole. The bullet point lists are helpful, but they alone will not help you build the kinds of relationships necessary to develop unique customer solutions and sustain a lucrative sales career. Your long-term success largely depends upon your commitment to understanding the process and your ability to consistently practice using the Sales Advantage tools in every selling situation.
Many of our graduates tell us that a major benefit of the Sales Advantage is being able to use their own styles and abilities in line with our proven processes. With that in mind, remember that these principles and methods are not about a mechanical approach to selling. They are about making the sales process second nature for you, so you do them intuitively -- just like driving a car.
If you become mechanical in applying the principles, it will be obvious to your prospects and customers. Your style of selling is the right style for you. Be confident in your own abilities. It's the process we want you to understand and apply. Ultimately, the specific tools and language you use are your decision. Even though the way you sell and the way your coworker sells may be totally different, you can both apply what you learn here and become even more successful.
No matter who you are, what you sell, or how long you've been selling, understanding and consistently applying these concepts has the potential of making a tremendous difference in your sales career.
It won't be easy to make changes in your routine. But if you want to increase your sales effectiveness, offer better solutions to your customers, advance your career, and maximize your income potential, you must make the commitment to step out of your comfort zone and do something different.
As Mr. Carnegie himself said: "To raise yourself to a better position, you've got to do something special. Make some extra effort. It won't be pleasant all the time. It'll mean hard grueling work while you're at it, and it will pay off in the long run."
J. Oliver Crom VICE-CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD
Michael Crom EXECUTIVE VICE-PRESIDENT
Copyright © 2003 by Dale Carnegie & Associates, Inc.