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Quick tips to help improve your sales techniques
By Art Sobczak

Sometimes, the simplest, easiest answers to our problems are right in front of our faces. Although we might not be able to see them - a case of the proverbial "can't see the forest for the trees" - objective outsiders who are distanced from the situation can.

Such is sometimes the case when it comes to sales techniques. If you or your salespeople are struggling in this area, improvement may just be a matter of being pointed to the solutions right in front of you. So consider these six simple steps to help improve your sales techniques:

#1 - Use "you" instead of "I"
Minimize your use of "I" statements, such as "I want to tell you about..." and "I think that...." Prospects don't care about what you want or think. How something affects them is what grabs and keeps their interest. So use words and phrases like:

"You'll find..."
"You'll notice..."
"You'll enjoy..."
"You'll see..."

#2 - Focus on the reasons for wanting to buy, not the resistance to buying
Think of how you would react to this statement: "On the one hand, we really like your program. However, the (insert objection here) is going to stop us from working with you." Many sales reps would jump in and attack the objection. Wise sales pros take the other path and instead focus on what the prospect or customer likes: "OK, let's talk about that. But let's first go through what you've identified as the reasons for wanting our program."

Let them talk, but prompt them when necessary. You'll probably find they talk themselves into what you have while minimizing their reason for resisting. This is a much better approach than helping them focus on the objection.

#3 - Review your voicemail messages
Listen to the messages you leave on other people's voicemail if given the option. You might find it took you 100 words to make a point that could have been communicated with 50. Edit it down and re-record it.

#4 - Help prospects realize they have nothing to fear
A common saying is that the word "fear" stands for "False Evidence Appearing Real." Many times, fence-sitters who are afraid to take the leap don't have a logical reason for their inactivity, yet they fear making a decision. And they probably can't explain why. So help them recognize their irrationality with comments like:

"What's the worst thing that could happen if you did this?"
"Let's look at the worst-case scenario if you moved forward."
"Let's think in the future for a moment and assume that you did get this system. Can you think of any downside?"
"What if you just went ahead and did it? Is there any real disadvantage you can think of?"
"What would be the drawbacks if you purchased today?"
"Let's say you did nothing. Then where would you be?"

#5 - Determine how you affect the bottom line
Do you know specifically how your product or service affects the bottom line? By this, I mean being able to confidently and accurately point out how customers can increase their long-term profitability or cut their costs (same thing). People buy and continue buying because of price, quality or service. Quality and service can be broken down further into value derived, when you ultimately can attach numbers to those, as well.

#6 - Learn the prospect's priorities
Some prospects can string out the sales process indefinitely. Others have no intention of ever buying, robbing you of valuable time. If you have that feeling, ask a direct question: "Ms. Jones, we've spoken several times now, and I thought we were in agreement that my offer would provide you with significant benefits. Tell me, how much of a priority is it for you to implement a new security program?"


Art Sobczak is president of Business By Phone, a telephone sales training and consulting firm, and the publisher of Telephone Selling Report.

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