There are hundreds of books about sales, but how many of them have actually helped anyone become a better salesperson?
Hal Becker’s Ultimate Sales Bookis a sales book and sales training course rolled into one, written by Xerox’s former number-one U.S. salesperson and one of America’s top sales trainers.
It contains a wealth of practical information that many seasoned salespeople have forgotten…and which new salespeople need to master. It includes action steps to help you develop unique and proven selling methods, set goals, list prospects, and even discover your own ways to answer objections. Plus targeted quizzes at the end of each chapter to hone your skills.
This is truly the one sales book every salesperson needs.
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About the Author
Hal Becker conducts seminars or consults for more than 140 organizations a year, including IBM, Disney, United Airlines, AT&T, and hundreds of other companies and associations. At age 22, Becker was Xerox's number-one salesperson (out of a national sales force of 11,000). He then founded Direct Opinions, one of America's first customer service telemarketing firms. He is the author of Can I have 5 Minutes Of Your Time?, Lip Service, and Get What You Want. Becker has been featured in publications including the Wall Street Journal, Business Week, Inc Magazine, and hundreds of newspapers and radio/TV stations around the world, and is currently syndicated in more than 45 newspapers and magazines.
Read an Excerpt
My Cousin Arman's Lesson
Let me start by saying that I have a lot of really smart people in my family. I am not sure they all know this, but by comparison, I often feel pretty dumb.
One of my cousins is a cardiologist. Arman is not your typical, "let's just make the rounds" kind of doctor. He's much more. His bedside manner is outstanding, and he makes patients feel like they've known him all their lives. Arman has a soothing personality that makes patients feel he is looking out for them the way a friend would. Outside work, he's a regular guy whose favorite movies are 300 and Star Trek. He can talk about TV or movies all day long.
Arman is brilliant and his research exemplifies that point. He has written books and articles on just about every medical topic related to his specialty. He has a beautiful wife and adorable kids. He is the kind of guy that you sometimes want to hate, because you just can't measure up to his incredible talents and joy for life. We all love him, and he is wonderful to be around.
Now here's the part where I'm amazed. During one of our family dinners, he said something so profound that I sat back and was astounded by the powerful simplicity of his remark. We were talking about the aging of the population and how much money is spent on healthcare, especially in the final year or stages of someone's life. He said we spend 80 percent of our healthcare expenditures in our last year of life.
Arman added, "Isn't it amazing that (we) doctors do things to patients and not for them?" In other words, rather than always making the patient comfortable and doing what is best for the person, doctors sometimes choose the science or the procedure over the patient's quality of life. Wait, I know what you might say: it's all about saving the patient's life. We could have a long discussion on this subject, but in a second you'll see why I bring this up.
I started to think about this heavy, philosophical dilemma, and it hit me! Imagine if a professional salesperson could use the same concept while he or she sold to customers. It was so clear and simple. Most salespeople sell to customers and not for them. The typical salesperson is selling what is best for him and does not always have the best interests of the customer on his agenda.
Imagine if salespeople were taught to sell only what was best for the customer. Period! The salesperson would not have to think about his quota, commissions, or anything that concerned him other than the customer. He would focus on what was best for the customers, depending on their individual situations. Isn't this the kind of salesperson you would want to buy from, one who was always putting you first? Anyone reading this will be hard-pressed to remember dealing with a salesperson who sincerely put the customer first without compromise or hesitation. Have you ever had a salesperson tell you the outfit you selected was perfect, only to have friends or family tell you it looked terrible on you? Have you ever bought the latest, greatest gadget because the salesman's presentation was so powerful, only to come home and find that it either didn't work or you didn't really need it? The examples go on and on. When you do find a sincerely caring salesperson, don't you usually purchase more because you trust him?
Here is my challenge to anyone who wants to excel by being different. Think like my cousin Arman and put your patient — the customer — first. Then sit back and watch the way your sales grow, because customers trust you.CHAPTER 2
Characteristics of a Top Salesperson
Studies show that most salespeople are either average or below average. Making your quota does not mean that you are successful. It means that you did enough to keep your job by producing at the expected level. Think about it. Would you want to go to a surgeon who said, "I performed the surgeries on the list, but didn't know a thing about the patient or why they needed the operation"? I don't know about you, but I want to be operated on by someone who is not only at the top of her profession, but also knows what is best for me and why.
I see many people in the training business or managers in a corporate sales environment who complicate something that's so simple. The question often asked is, "What traits do superior salespersons possess?" This question has been asked a thousand times and has been debated for decades. It has been addressed in hundreds of articles, studies, and books. It is so basic that many people don't believe the answer because it is too simple to be true.
The answer is discussed in one of the best articles I've ever read on sales, titled "What Makes a Good Salesperson," by David Mayer and Herbert M. Greenberg. It appeared in The Harvard Business Review in August 2006, and was based on a previous article and study done in April 1961. The results of 50 years ago are the same today, because the premise is something that hasn't changed. According to the article, the two traits that make a successful salesperson are empathy and ego drive.
Empathy is the important ability to feel as the other person does. Most salespeople do not have empathy. They tend to put the customer second and not first. The salesperson usually thinks of just himself. Fabulous salespeople put the customer first and not the sale. One way to develop empathy in your sales work is by thinking about how you would you like to be treated.
Ego drive is the personal desire to make a sale. A successful person's ego drive will make her feel personally victorious when she makes a sale. When she fails, it pushes her to work harder, rather than find excuses or become discouraged.
The article states that there needs to be a balance between the salesperson's desire to empathetically help the customer and the need to succeed. If the balance is off, the result is a salesperson being liked for being "nice," but not necessarily making the sale or, conversely, a pushy salesperson who may force some sales, but miss many others because of his or her off-putting lack of empathy.
Of course, we need other skills in order to be a well-rounded salesperson. Product knowledge is vital, as is knowing how to handle objections, how to ask questions (as opposed to merely presenting), understanding the features and benefits of your products and services, and having good organizational skills. When these skills are developed and combined with empathy and a healthy ego drive, you have the makings of a successful salesperson.CHAPTER 3
Six Rules of Selling
When I first started my sales career at Xerox Corporation, I was taught a few things that have stayed with me for close to 35 years. These basic principles allowed me to be the number-one salesperson at Xerox out of a national sales force of 11,000, and have continued to bring me success in the businesses I have owned during the past two decades.
True salespeople follow six rules of selling that mirror the basic themes of every notable sales book. These principles have not changed in more than 75 years, and they probably will not change in the next 75. I learned the first three in 1976, at our Xerox training facility in Leesburg, Virginia, when I sat in a classroom for 12 to 14 hours a day, six days a week, for three weeks, getting an education in sales. The other three lessons I picked up in the last 20 years.
1. Know your product. We knew our copiers inside and out. We dreamt about them at night. We were responsible for retaining as much product knowledge as possible. We showed our customers that we knew our product and portrayed a strong sense of confidence. When you go shopping these days, how often do you find salespeople who take pride in their products or spend time memorizing information about what they are selling?
2. Know your competition. You have strengths over your competitors, and you also have weaknesses. The same is true for your competitors. By learning what these are, you can compete with your competitors without knocking them. Don't give a customer the chance to say something nice about a competitor.
3. Work harder. Our quota at Xerox was simple: 10 new business contacts per day, whether it was a cold call in person or over the phone. I said to myself, "Hey, I can do more than that." So I set a new plan for myself: 20 calls per day. The key was that I made those calls every day! I ended up doubling everyone else's effort at more than 100 calls per week, 400 calls per month, 4,800 calls per year. The result was a simple, effective, and consistent plan that worked!
4. Be organized. Use your planner. Depend on it to the point that if you lost it, you would freak out. A planner can be a PDA, online scheduling program, or a paper day-planner. There are numerous products on the market to help you get organized. The important thing is to use whatever works best for you on a consistent basis. Use it to plan meetings with all prospects and your existing clients.
5. Be assertive and consistent. Assertiveness means being self-confident and self-assured, without being a pushy salesperson. It means never giving up and always being on top of the game plan. Focus, focus, focus. The more you do each day, the bigger the payoff. Remember that the sales game is made up of customers you know and customers you haven't yet met.
6. Be honest. No sale is worth compromising your honesty. There is not a single sale you will ever make that will change your life. It might ensure a better month or even a better year, but it will not change your life.
People buy from people, and in most cases, it's from people they like and trust. Those people are the ones we want telling others what a great job we did. If you have a reputation as an honest salesperson, your current customers will recommend you to others, which is an easy way to get referral sales.
Want a way to quickly remember the most important points? The sales warranty card on this page is basically an eight-hour sales class reduced to three simple concepts. These are the keys to success and will be for as long as you are in the sales profession.CHAPTER 4
What Salespeople Can Learn From Kids
Good selling is based on probing. That means finding out what the customer wants or needs — not by talking, but by asking. Too many salespeople start by talking about themselves, often revealing way too much of their life history to make the customer feel they "know" them. They are now the customer's friend, because the customer knows where they went to school and that they are allergic to celery. They then talk about the company and its history. Finally, they go into detailed information about the product, how good it is, and what it will do for the purchaser. Add why the customer "needs" the product, and the salesperson feels they have done their job and done it expertly! Meanwhile, the customer tuned out at "celery" and is thinking about what they are going to have for lunch.
Rather than an endless presentation on the part of the salesperson, selling is a simple process of asking questions in a logical order to see if the customer's needs can be met. As you probe into the customer's situation even more by asking questions, their concerns will come to the surface, allowing you to address them.
Who can teach a salesperson about asking questions? Kids!
Typically, kids surpass adults at the number of questions they ask, because they are exceptionally curious. I admire how kids are able to excel in the area of communication. I've found that I can learn a lot by simply observing how kids interact with others.
You may have experienced this scenario: Your child wants a new toy, video game, or any kind of treat. He asks with no fear, even though he already thinks you are going to say no. In fact, he would be surprised if you were to say yes on his first attempt! The simple question is, "Mom, Dad, can I have the new, cool, battery-operated, handheld, electronic device that plays 568 games?" Unless he has straight As on his report card or you are trying to bribe reward him for good behavior, the answer is a simple "No." What does he do next? He goes into deep question mode. "How come? Why not? When can I? What if I ...?" And that was only round one. Next round: "How come? Why not? When can I? What if I ...?" The little tike will not quit until he either gets what he wants, or he is grounded until he is 40 years old.
Salespeople should imitate kids' natural fearlessness and curious approach when interacting with customers. Even before you get a no from a customer, be inquisitive and ask the customer about their views of their current situation and the product or service you are offering. Delve further by asking when or under what conditions they are likely to buy your product. By doing so, just like a kid, you're likely to uncover the reason your customer is hesitant and can work to create buying conditions that make both of you happy.
My advice is, before you make a sales call, either hang out with a kid or just take one along and watch them do their magic.CHAPTER 5
I'm usually pretty good at reading people. I say "pretty good" because that was until I met Andy. (I have changed his name to protect the innocent.)
In my line of work, I do two things: I give keynote addresses or speeches to large audiences on sales, customer service, or negotiating; and I do on-going sales training on a regular basis for a handful of companies. The latter is where I met Andy. His company asked me to work with their salespeople and address the lack of sales management. The first meeting is typically a meet-and-greet, during which I feel out the sales staff, and they do the same with me.
The man sitting next to me was a flashback from the 1970s. His suit was made of blue polyester with wide lapels, and he wore eyeglasses that even Elton John would not have worn in 1976. It was hard work ignoring the toupee he wore, because he had brown hair hanging out the back while the toupee was blonde. It reminded me of the time my mother wouldn't let me leave the house in fourth grade, because I wanted to wear a Beatles wig to school. My Beatles wig looked more natural than this guy's poorly crafted toupee.
The opinion I was forming in my head wasn't good. Was this the sales force I would be training? I was starting to feel like Sergeant Hulka in the movie Stripes.
The president of the company gave me some startling news when I asked, "Who in the room is your top salesperson?" He pointed to the gentleman sitting next to me with the toupee.
Okay, enough of being "Shallow Hal" and making fun of people. Here comes the best part. Because he was the best of the bunch, I started asking him a few questions. One of the responses he gave me was one that I will never forget!
He said, "My wife told me that the reason I am selling more and doing a better job is that I am focusing on the customer in front of me and not the sale." That was one of the most important things I have ever been told by a salesperson. It is so simple and yet so powerful. The message was clear.
Let's lay it out so everyone can understand this principal and use it every day while selling. If you truly understand and use this concept, you will be on the path to greatness in sales. This is sales success in a couple sentences: Put customers first. Listen to them and their concerns, and forget talking about the product or service you're selling.
That's it, the secret that we have been searching for all these years. It has always been there, but no one has really noticed how concise and simple it really is. Whether your suit is Armani or a couple decades old, if you are a genuine person and sincerely try to help the customer, your good intentions will come through, and you'll be successful in sales.
It's funny to me that when I see Andy from time to time, I don't notice the bad hairpiece; I notice what a good, caring person he is.CHAPTER 6
Are You a Good Listener?
Listening is one of the most important aspects of any type of sale or negotiation, whether with professionals, friends, or family. Though most people think they are good listeners, the truth is quite the opposite: most of us need to improve our listening skills. Here is a simple exercise to test your listening skills. Reflect on your actions in the following situations:
You just met several new people and were briefly introduced. Do you remember all of their names? Any of their names?
You got lost and stopped for directions, which you didn't write down. Did you find your way? Or are you still lost?
You are listening to someone and a thought pops into your mind. Do you interrupt the other person with your thought so you won't forget it? Or do you concentrate on your thought and wait until the other person is done without paying much attention to what he is saying?
You are listening to someone who is speaking very slowly and it's driving you crazy. Do you interrupt and finish the sentence?
I'll bet you kept saying, "Yeah, I do that ...and that ...and that." Well, you just flunked. Welcome to the majority. The good news is that you can become a better listener. The bad news is that you have to practice for the rest of your life. To encourage you, let me say that once you succeed at becoming a better listener, others will enjoy being around you more because people love a good listener. This takes time and practice, and by the time you are 80 years old, you should have it mastered. The only problem is that you may have forgotten everything else!(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Hal Becker's Ultimate Sales Book"
Copyright © 2012 Hal Becker and Nancy Traum.
Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
What Makes a Good Salesperson?,
What Great Salespeople Know,
The Importance of Listening,
Preparing for the Sales Call,
The Importance of Questions,
Increasing Your Sales,
Cold Calls, Phone Selling, and Other Contact Options,
Closing the Sale,
You've Earned a Bonus!,
About the Author,