In Outside Sales, the Word “Interested” is for Wimps, Plus …

…  How to go from “I’ll think about it” to a close. See #5.

“Natural born” salespeople stink. See #6.

“That’s not my industry,” “My customers are different” and “You just got to understand my market…” Words that signal a closed mind and a lean wallet.

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Are you curious and open-minded enough to learn from others, or do you think “That’s not my industry” and lose the edge one good idea will bring you?

Let me share five universal selling principles that were proven yet again to me, in a very different selling environment than I am used to.

I live in a seaside community that swarms with tourists in the summer. A friend of mine, Andrea, is an extremely talented designer creating very unique sand dollar shadow boxes, posters, calendars, cards and T-shirts. Her work just pops. But, she is being held back in her business as she would rather eat glass then approach merchants to carry her lines.

Sooooooooooooooo, as she was helping me, I volunteered to approach some local outlets. Here is what was reinforced to me that is almost universal.

1. I was uncomfortable with the unknown.

It was kind of funny. Here I am the big sales coach working in a major sales environment for decades, nervous about approaching local merchants on Main Street about carrying some posters and artwork.

That is a normal feeling. Many people let that feeling be a permanent barrier to discovering new approaches. Feeling awkward is part of the learning process. If you wait until you feel more comfortable, you probably won’t do anything.

2. The initial approach is key.

How do you arouse curiosity, tell them what you do, project value and credibility and ask for what you want in 30 seconds.

Once they have the perception that you are a pest, a salesperson who is going to waste their time, NO MATTER WHAT YOU TELL THEM, you are toast. Done. Get out.

Getting that initial foothold in their mind is critical to earning another minute of attention, where you then earn the next step.

Here is how I approached the merchants. Since it was an in-person call my objective was for them to see and hear my message within moments. So I arranged the goods in such a way that I had posters sticking out of a carrying bag, and the elegant shadow boxes with a T-shirt design balanced on the other arm.

When I approached the merchant, I held up the bag so they could see the poster and held out the shadow box and T-shirt with the other arm, then said….. “Hi, my name is Scott and I have a friend Andrea who is a local artist who has had a lot of success selling shadow boxes, posters and T-shirts to friends, co-workers and on the internet. Do you think that your customers would want these items?”

BOOM!!!

They see it. They hear a credibility statement. They know what you want.

If you approach somebody with…

Have you got minute?

I’m a salesperson. Is this a good time to talk?

What are you doing that earns you the next minute? Nothing. Their minds shut down and you are toast.

3. Stop coddling those who will never buy.

Laser focus on saying and doing that which would enable those who do have the need and ability to buy from you to do so. Forget the rest.

Are you watering down your approach because you get so many no’s that you subconsciously expect it to come, so you present in a way that makes it more comfortable for you to hear it and the prospect to say it?

Think about that.

If you approach somebody with “Got a minute?” or something similar…

If they had a need you could fill and had the ability to buy on your terms… have you provided any information describing what you do, how credible you are or what you want?

No.

So at that critical point somebody who is a great prospect lumps you in with all the other knuckleheads that waste their time, misses out on a great vendor and you miss out on a great account, simply because YOU chose an approach that did not give someone who has a need you can fill any information to determine you are worthwhile.

Say and act only with those who would buy from you in mind. Do what is necessary to earn the next minute with them. Forget the rest.

4. Eliminate the word “interested” from your sales vocabulary.

Never utter the word “interested” again when speaking to a prospect. That tells you nothing. It’s non-specific as to what they really want or might do next.

We don’t want to know if they are interested?

Do you need this? Do you want this?

We need to know this.

What specifically are you willing to do next?

We need to know this.

The word “interested” is for wimps.

You make it easy for people who will never say “yes” to never say “no.” They waste your time. You are not enabling those who have a solid need to identify themselves to you. Be more specific.

5. Be prepared for common responses.

One buyer I presented to actually started jumping up and down with delight yelling out to customers in the store “Look at this, aren’t these beautiful,” and told me “I want these in my shop, I don’t care what they cost.” That one was easy.

The one’s that looked at me like I was an idiot and said “No.” They were easy.

But one guy, he paused awhile then said…. “I got to think about it.”

So super salesguy Scott says, “OK. That’s fine. No problem. May I ask specifically what you are thinking about?”

He pauses again. “Well, I don’t know where I would put that stuff.”

So super salesguy Scott says, “Well, if you were to find a place here, what would be the most likely spots?”

He points slowly to a counter. “Probably over there by the window.”

I then asked, “What are your concerns about placing it there?”

He says, “I have nothing to put them in and I’m afraid the poster will get dirty.”

Super salesguy Scott says, “OK, if we could solve those two issues, is there any reason you wouldn’t carry this line?”

“Nope. That would be good. I would give it a try.”

“Great. Have a few options to solve those problems, when can I come back to set it up?”

“Tuesday 9:30.”

“See you then. Bye.”

Now if I had started with ….. are you interested? Would I have closed that guy? No. Not a specific enough approach. Would never have been able to drill down to the real issue.

My point on this one is that “I need to think about it” is a very common form of resistance in any sales environment. If your response to that is “OK, when should I call you back?” You are a wimp. You are losing out on sales standing right in front of you.

People who will buy respond to specific questions.

People who will never buy get annoyed with specific questions. Let them be annoyed.

6. Don’t be fooled by slicksters.

Standing in one shop waiting I observed a super slick sales guy working the owner. He’s talking Red Sox, overly friendly, fake smile, loud laughing, what a moron. Most people would think that this “natural born salesman” is what a salesperson should be. But, when his back was turned the owner was rolling his eyes and a clerk gave him a finger salute.

People don’t want to be manipulated and people “sell” them all the time. Just be natural. Communicate value. Communicate value. Ask good questions and be prepared. That wins sales consistently. You don’t have to be slick. You just need to know how to work toward a close. Being slick has nothing to do with it.

The point of all this….

Andrea’s designs are now in six local shops and it took about 10 hours.

The strategies that accomplished that are the same core strategies used to make major sales B2B.

Good selling is all around you. Learn from what is working in other industries. Many of the core concepts can be applied to your situation. Think.

Best wishes for great selling,
Scott Channell

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