Selling (and Silence)
"By the book." "Buy
the book." Look, this isn't subtle. But, in truth,
one of the most effective lessons about selling I ever gave
myself came from a paperback book (bought at a school garage
sale for 10¢) authored by all-time champion car salesman Joe
Girard. A car salesman for gosh sakes! He is
a master. It's amazing how many people who have
successful selling careers sit down and write a book about what
works and what doesn't. It's very approachable reading.
And such books are easily obtainable at most "mall" book chains,
at any library, or at the famous How-To-Do-It Bookstore.
There are courses on selling (various community colleges,
Wharton, St. Joseph's, Villanova, etc.), a steam of programs and
events each year (the Entrepreneurs' Forum, SCORE, the
Philadelphia Top 100™ Conference, among others), and ongoing
coverage in the business press (daily local papers, Business
Week, and trade publications, for instance).
If you realize what you're
seeing, it is virtually impossible to escape the flow of free or
almost free information. The texts on effective selling (i.e.,
the formal books) provide the step-by-step instructions.
The press coverage provides the examples and the anecdotal
information. Also try to pick out a couple of individuals
(maybe one in your field of another from outside the
field) and ask about their "best practices" when it comes to
selling. And then pick out what seems to be applicable to
your specific situation. Hint: just because something
worked for their personality with their product
(or service) in their market situation with their
targeted prospects does not automatically mean that it will be
appropriate or effective for your product (or service) in
your market situation with your targeted
prospects. Think. To be effective, be selective.
You have to go get the detailed how-to-do-it information for
yourself. The sources suggested above will get you headed
in the right direction. Sorting out and applying the
information is up to you.
Here's the big picture:
Selling is the process of converting prospects into actual
paying customers and maintaining them as customers.
Since it can cost four times as much to acquire a new customer
as it does to maintain the equivalent revenue production from
an established customer, finding the right resource allocation
that will preserve your base and grow the company at the same
time is very, very important.
No. 1 Rule for Effective Selling:
"Selling" isn't happening
when the salesperson is talking.
"Selling" is actually
when the prospect is talking.
Therefore, effective selling
move to a conversational format at the earliest possible moment.
are often based more on posing issues and questions and less on
conveying lots and lots of information. "Selling" is not
about content. It is about
finding a "fit."
Is Problem Solving
Finally – and this is the
hardest part about selling – here is a reminder about making the
selling process truly effective:
" ? "
That humble little
punctuation mark denotes the end of a question. For
"How can I help you?"
"What is bothering you about
your current situation?"
"What is your company trying
"Would it be meaningful to
shave 20% off your current processing time?"
"If you could increase
throughput by 8%" what would that be worth to you?
Given Options A, B and C
from us, which one would best serve the needs here at your
"Are you in position to
place an order today?"
The question mark means (or
should mean) "Shut up and listen!" Once the
question mark is reached, then no matter how long it takes your
prospect to begin speaking, whatever happens next is likely to
be pure gold. Listen. And think very
carefully about what is said (and the way it is said).
And then respond to it. You will be amazed at the
up-tick in your selling results.