Update 3 Common Sales Terms to Bring in Business

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Posted: May 5, 2010

"Trust," "needs analysis" and "closing" are "commodity words" in the profession of sales. They are used frequently, but often the accompanying actions reflect little value. Let's see if we can change this sales lingo to add value.

Trust
How do you build trust? It starts with intent. If your intent on a sales call is to go in and "close the deal," you have lost sight of building trust. A prospect knows and senses your intention is self-centered: hitting your sales quota. It's similar to a surgeon meeting with a patient in hopes of getting another surgery on the calendar.

How open would you be to sharing your ailment with a surgeon knowing that "closing the surgery" is foremost on the surgeon's mind? The same holds true on a sales call.

I have seen way too many sales calls where the prospect shares their "ailment" and the salesperson starts to close the deal. The salesperson doesn't even run a diagnostic to see if the ailment needs a Band-Aid or surgery.

Intent is a tough skill to teach because it's a mindset more than a skill set. If you want to build trust on a sales call, enter the meeting with the intent of understanding, not closing. As a result, the prospect will disclose problems on a deeper level, allowing for a better diagnosis of the problem.

Needs analysis
I just want to yawn when I hear this phrase.

We have seen an evolution in sales. In the early days, a good sales professional was paid for their product knowledge and presentation skills. Along came the information age and the commoditization of product knowledge. Selling skills evolved to asking questions, finding the need.

Now, there is nothing wrong with asking questions. It's just that any good competitor also is asking questions to find the need. If you want to stand apart in a crowded field, go into a sales call and make the prospect's brain hurt. In other words, replace questioning skills with thinking skills.

What is the difference between them? The person that employs questioning skills asks questions only about the problem presented by the prospect. Thinking skills require asking questions about issues not presented by the prospect.

Let's take my world of sales consulting. I often am contacted by companies for sales training. The company believes if the sales team members were better trained, they could sell and close more deals.

The first thing I do is start thinking and questioning everything besides the problem laid out in front of me.

Do they have the right salespeople in place?
How clear are expectations for success?
How competitive is the sales compensation program?
Is technology helping or hindering their sales effort?
How effective are the sales managers at training and coaching the team?
How is market penetration measured?
What products bring you the most margin and best clients?

By the end of the call, we may decide sales training isn't the solution. The problem really might be installing a more effective selection-and-recruitment program or taking a closer look at compensation. Do your prospects a favor and make their brain hurt from thinking and looking at problems from a different perspective.

Closing the deal
I agree. We need to close deals or the business world doesn't move forward. The problem I have with this phrase is that closing the deal seems to be a one-sided goal, can involve game-playing, and many salespeople still believe closing happens at the end of the call.

STOP.

Most of the above problems can be addressed during the first five minutes of a sales call by establishing the purpose of the call together. This is an easy conversation with your prospect. You discuss what both of you hope to get out of the call, determine if business philosophies are mutual and decide together if you want to take the next step.

Closing the deal isn't about a lot of overused assumptive closes or trial closes. I'm still amazed at how often I hear, "If we could ... would you?" Where did we learn that language? Do you use this phrasing in any other place in your life?

Let's go back to our surgery example. Can you imagine a physician saying, "Now, if I could save your life, would you want me to do that?" (I know, I know, a little ridiculous, but I am trying to make a point.)

Closing the deal is figuring out, with your prospect, if he/she has a problem that's big enough to fix. If the problem isn't big enough to fix, no amount of closing is going to make the prospect invest time and money.

Reverse your thinking. Remember, the prospect is the one with the problem. Only the prospect can convince themselves the problem needs to be addressed, fixed or changed.

Examine your intent, establish a partnership sales call and let the prospect ask for the order. Now, that's selling in the 21st century.