Listening


Listening to the other’s point of view starts during pre-selling. Don’t switch off when you’re through talking, Listen. Understand. If you don’t understand, ask questions until you do. Then you can do a better selling job because you know more than you did when you started.

Listening is one of the best times to pick up sales points and disagreement between otherwise agreeable allies. Listen to the words and to the tone. You will be able to tell who is leading whom. You can’t learn without listening, and the more you know, the better your chance of obtaining your goal.

Don’t let your mind wander or focus on objections, and don’t spend your pre-selling time trying to develop responses instead of concentrating on what has been said.

Listen, listen, listen. There is no substitute for listening, especially during the pre-sell period

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Handling Delays


In the sales process, especially in the final phases, delays can represent a frustrating gray area that leaves you hanging, wondering whether or not the customer will buy. After you have proposed a solution, one of three outcomes could take place:

  • Decision pending
  • Continuation
  • Stall.

Decision pending is a waiting period in which the decision has not been made. The reason could be that a key decision maker either was not present when the proposal was made or has not yet made up his mind; or that other, more pressing issues have arisen.

Continuation means that the customer seems to be interested in continuing the relationship with you but makes no specific commitment regarding your proposal.

Stall is a situation in which the customer puts you off or seems evasive. A stall usually indicates a hidden objection. Stalls typically occur after you have asked for a commitment. Use the following tactics to handle a stall:

  • Try to find out the real reason for the stall by using your questioning skills.
  • If the customer does not buy, find out why.
  • Get the objections out in the open and handle them, to determine the real reason for not buying.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

The Creative Selling Process


Although it may look easy, creative selling is not a simple task. Of course, some sales are made in a matter of minutes. But others, particularly for large organizational purchase, can take years to complete. Salespeople should follow a carefully planned process from start to finish.

Step 1: Prospecting: Prospecting is the process of finding and qualifying potential customers. This involves three activities:

  • Generating sales leads. Sales leads are names of individuals and organizations that might be likely prospects for the company’s products.
  • Identifying prospects. A prospect is a potential customer who indicates a need or a desire for the seller’s product.
  • Qualifying prospects. Not all prospects are worth investing sales time in. some may not have the authority to buy, and others won’t have enough money. The ones who do have both the authority and the available money are called qualified prospects.

Step 2: Preparing: With a list of hot prospects in hand, the salesperson’s next step is to prepare for the sales call. Without this preparation, the chances of success are greatly reduced. Preparation starts with creating a prospect profile, which includes the names of key people, their role in the decision-making process, and other relevant information such as the prospect’s buying needs, motive for buying, current suppliers, income/revenue level, and so on.

Next, the salesperson decides how to approach the prospect. Possible options for a first contact include sending a letter or cold calling in person or by telephone. For an existing customer, the salesperson can either drop by unannounced or call ahead for an appointment, which is generally preferred.

Before meeting with the prospect, the salesperson establishes specific objectives to achieve during the sales call. Depending on the situation, objectives can range anywhere from “getting the order today” to simply “convincing prospects top accept the company as a potential supplier.” Following that, the salesperson prepares the actual presentation, which can be as basic as a list of points to discuss or as elaborate as a product demonstration or multimedia presentation.

Step 3: Approaching the Prospect: Positive first impressions result from three elements. The first is an appropriate appearance—you wouldn’t wear blue jeans to call on a banker, and you probably wouldn’t wear a business suit to call on a farmer. Appearance also covers the things that represent you, including business cards, letters, and automobiles. Second, a salesperson’s attitude and behavior can make or break a sale. A salesperson should come across as professional, courteous, and considerate. Third, a salesperson’s opening lines should include a brief greeting and introduction, followed by a few carefully chosen words that get the prospect’s attention and generate interest. The best way to accomplish this is to focus on a benefit to the customer rather than on the product itself.

Step 4: Making the Presentation: the most critical step in the selling process is the presentation. It can take many forms, but its purpose never varies: to personally communicate a product message that will convince a prospect to buy. Most sellers use of two methods: The canned approach is a memorized presentation (easier for inexperienced sellers, but inefficient for complex products or for sellers who don’t know customer’s needs). The need satisfaction approach (now used by most professionals) identifies the customer’s needs and creates a presentation to specifically address them.

Step 5: Handling Objections: No matter how well a presentation is delivered, it doesn’t always conclude with an immediate offer that might move the prospect to buy. Often, the prospect will express various types of objections and concerns throughout the presentation. In fact, the absence of objections is often an indication that the prospect is not very interested in what the salesperson is selling. Many successful salespeople look at objections as a sign of the prospect’s interest and as an opportunity to develop new ideas that will strengthen future presentations.

Three basic approaches to overcoming objections include asking the prospect a question, giving a response to the objection, or telling the prospect that you will need to look into the matter and address it later.

Step 6: Closing: So far, you haven’t made a dime. You may have spent weeks or months—years in some cases—to bring the customer to this point, but you don’t make any money until the prospect decides to buy. This stage of the selling process, when you persuade the customer to place an order, is referred to as closing.

How should you ask for the order? Closing techniques are numerous; here are some of the more popular. The alternative proposal close asks the prospect to assumptive close, you simply proceed with processing the order, assuming that the prospect has already decided to buy. Another alternative is the silent close, in which you finish your presentation and sit quietly, waiting for the customer to respond with his or her buying decision. Finally, many salespeople prefer the direct close, where you just come right out and ask for the order.

These closing techniques might strike you as tricks, and in the hands of unethical salespeople, some closing approaches certainly can be. But the professional salesperson uses these techniques to make the selling process effective and efficient—not to trick people into buying when they aren’t ready.

Step 7: Following Up: Most salespeople depend on repeat sales, so it is important that they follow up on all sales and not ignore the customer once the first sale is made. During this follow-up stage of the selling process, you need to make sure that the product has been delivered properly and that the customer is satisfied. Inexperienced salespeople may avoid the follow-up stage because they fear facing an unhappy customer. However, an important part of a salesperson’s job is to ensure customer satisfaction and to build goodwill.

In order to improve the odds of keeping a satisfied customer after the sale, salespeople should remember to:

  • Handle complaints promptly and pleasantly
  • Maintain contact with customers
  • Keep serving the customers
  • Show appreciation.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Openness to Criticism


Criticism of any decision not only reflects on the actual appropriateness of the decision itself, but also on the decision-maker as well. When making a difficult decision, it is very  tempting to quickly move past it in order to avoid the questions and doubts the disapproval causes. However, the failure to adequately engage the objection becomes its own ethical dilemma with costs to both the individual and the organization when the ethical dimension is ignored. Openness to the criticism and the lessons it contains can be a key indication that the professional is actively integrating ethics and value reflection into his or her professional life.

When one’s decisions are criticized, one needs practical tools and processes to effectively learn from the reproach and to engage the ethical issues the disapproval presents. there are four fundamental steps in such examination described per herebelow:

  1. Accept the discomfort of the criticism and honestly confront the temptation to ignore it. An important incentive for this honest self-reflection is an understanding of the negative consequences of ignoring the ethics of one’s decisions and their consequences.
  2. Identify personal core values, listing them and examining them in light of the criticism being encountered.
  3. Cultivate openness to the ethical dimension of the business life and of business decisions. The role of the moral imagination and reflection will be examined.
  4. The need for practical tools to identify and audit the core values at work in the decision-making process will be reviewed.

These elements will enable the professional to effectively engage the ethical dimension of decisions and their aftermath. Openness to criticism, developing the moral imagination, having practical tools for ethical decision-making, and understanding the need to integrate one’s values into business goals, perspectives, and decisions are fundamental ingredients in integrating both vision and reality.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Handling Customer Objections, Queries and Concerns


Objections can arise in any sales situation, and at any point in the process. At the beginning, when you are phone prospecting, you may encounter resistance from ‘gatekeepers’ or from your intended contact person. At the end, when you are trying to close the sale, objections are typical.

In order to encourage long-term customer satisfaction and loyalty, dialogue about objections, queries and concerns must be conducted early and often. In essence, welcome complaints and concerns – seek them and anticipate them.

Objections must be resolved, or the customer may be lost. Many salespeople are uncomfortable about handling objections and feel threatened by them. However, objections should be viewed as potentially beneficial because they:

  • Are a natural part of the buying process. Getting answers to questions and resolving doubts is a normal behavior pattern in buying.
  • Present an opportunity for educating the customer, as well as for getting more information from the customer.
  • Reveal the customer’s concerns and give you a chance to encourage the customer to become more involved in the sales call.
  • Can result in enhanced trust and a better relationship, if handled well.
  • Show that the customer is actively interested, and not keeping objections a secret.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

The Lacking Commitment


Why do so many senior people appear hesitant and half-hearted? Why are the communications concerning change programs so anemic, especially when coming from those who have little difficulty in putting their points across in other contexts?

We have to get at the roots of ambivalence. The reasons for concern, quiet dissent, and reluctance to commit need to be probed:

  • Apparent support may only mean that those concerned are crawlers, bootlickers and toadies. There is often reluctance to accept the reality that all manner of loathsome and self-serving creatures inhabit the corridors of corporate bureaucracy. Their wiles, and the games they play, which are so transparent to outsiders, and destructive of external relationships built upon mutual trust and respect, go unnoticed or are ignored within.
  • Those who appear difficult may be the individuals with intellectual reservations. These could relate to the application of a program in a particular area, or to an initiative as a whole. The objectors could be the ones who have thought it through and uncovered missing elements. An implementation process needs to incorporate a means of listening to, and learning from, those who have valid objections.
  • Also, not all customers have the same preferences. What is added value for one person may be regarded as an expensive luxury by other.

Bland ‘motherhood’ statements suggest people have not thought through what needs to be done. People judge by what they see rather than on the basis of what is said. The informal messages, the examples and the symbols, can undercut formal communications.

Too often the changes of attitudes that are sought are not reflected in the language used by managers, the anecdotes and war stories that make up the mythology of a company, in symbols such as the allocation of parking spaces or use of exercise facilities, and in how a myriad of day-to-day matters are handled. Changing structures and processes may not be followed by attitudes where managers themselves, and particularly senior managers, refuse to act as role models.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Why I wouldn’t buy from me


Part of knowing your product is knowing all the reasons someone might not want to buy it. Anticipate the reasons. State them clearly in your mind, spell them out on paper if necessary—and have an answer ready for each of them.

 

A good portion of almost any sales effort is spent overcoming objections. Don’t try to convince a buyer that his objections aren’t valid. Concentrate instead on altering his frame of reference.

 

In anticipating and overcoming objections a salesman has to practice a kind of theory of relativity. He has to ask himself, “Compared to what?” Think about a major purchase you have made—buying a house, for instance—and the mental gyrations you went through to get there. At some point you were making comparisons. Compared to another house that interested you, but in a slightly less desirable neighborhood, it seemed expensive. Compared to what you could have bought it for ten years ago, it seemed outrageous. But compared to its resale value, compared to what someone else might have been ready to offer, compared to what you deserve, you were able to justify the price.

 

In licensing the name of an athlete, I know the two objections we are most likely to encounter are the price—the size of the guarantees—and the athlete’s lack of availability to the licensors.

 

By helping the buyer see a different frame of reference, by altering his perceptions, we are able to finalize a licensee deal that has resulted in the company’s most successful line of apparel and in several million dollars of income to our client.

 

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight