When coaching salespeople, I contend that, although it is important to be the best that you absolutely can be in every interaction with a prospect, customer, or client, you do not have to be the best that they have ever seen. You don’t have to be the smoothest talker. You don’t have to be a silver-tongued devil with an answer for every question. You do, however, need to make an IMPACT! What does that mean? What questions might you ask yourself before the sales call to ensure that an IMPACT can be made?
I define IMPACT as a combination of the following areas:
I-Impression “What impression do I want them to have of me?”
The best sales professionals today are very cognizant of the customer perspective and thus, very aware of every move they make, how they look, how they prepare, and how they show. Here are a few examples (both positive and negative) of impressions that we can leave:
- Professional vs. unprofessional
- Respectful vs. disrespectful
- Interested vs. deal focused
- Resource vs. salesperson
- Solution vs. problem
- Investment vs. cost
M-Memorable “What do I want them to remember when I’m gone?”
Every solid sales professional has their “go-to” phrases or “word-tracks” that truly drive home the desired point. It is often this phrase that makes an IMPACT. Here is an example of one of my favorites I’ve used for years when faced with a customer with price concerns:
“I understand that you can get a similar product/service from one of my competitors at a lower initial price. In fact, if what you pay is your main deciding factor, you most likely will not do business with me. However, if your concern is more aboutwhat you get for what you pay, then you will do business with nobody but me!”
P-P.P.O.D. “What Positive Perception Of Difference will I make such that they will go out of their way and/or pay a premium to do business with me?”
The best salespeople are always attempting to create differentiation between themselves and the competition. They realize that differentiation comes from their actions as well as their words. They create a positive perception of difference through the way they dress, the way they ask questions, the way they “brand” themselves before, during, and after the sale, the way they present their opportunity, or the way they ask for the business. The best realize that typically it is the companies that “stand out” that have the highest return of customers and thus they look to “stand out” as well.
A-Ask Questions and Listen “What do I need to know in order to increase my chances of winning the sale?”
The best sales professionals realize that the strongest sentence that they can make to a prospect, customer, or client ends in a question mark! While their competitors are out there showing up and throwing up on sales calls, they are probing, digging, inquiring, going deeper, diagnosing, and finding out their customers highest value needs and motivators so that they can provide the best solution. The art of asking questions and listening does more to make an IMPACT than anything else you could ever hope to do.
“If you ask the right questions and truly listen to your customer’s answers, they will explain your business to you.”
“Nobody ever listened themselves out of a sale.”
C-Character (Have one-Don’t be one.) “How can I increase the perceived value of my product/service through my rock-solid character?”
If a sale is defined as a transfer of trust, sales pros need to make sure that transfer is made early and often throughout the sales process. That doesn’t happen by speaking negatively about the competition, a prospect’s prior decision, your internal sales support, or anyone else. What it comes from is sincere professionalism in every aspect of your interaction with prospects, customers, and clients (even behind the scenes.)
“Character is what happens when nobody is looking!”
T-Touch ’em “How will I make sure that they know me beforehand, hear me during, and don’t forget me afterwards?”
The best sales professionals believe, “It is not who I know but who knows me that counts in business.” The best way to assure that prospects, customers, and clients think of them when a need to buy comes about is through frequent, repetitious contact before, during, and after the initial sale. These touches include a combination of personal contact, letters, e-mails, faxes, mailed articles, postcards, value-add newsletters, suggestions, referrals, reference requests, thank you cards, holiday/anniversary cards, and many, many more. A word of caution, however, is to make sure that you don’t do what everyone else is doing (see PPOD above).
By making an IMPACT On your prospects, customers, and clients in all you do, you stand a better chance as a sales professional to earn their business now and forever. Every sales professional has the ability (and duty) to make an IMPACT.
Gerry Layo is a popular Vistage speaker based in Sacramento, Calif.