Advice from giants of sales
John Henry Patterson
He invented the fundamentals of modern selling as a definable and repeatable process. Eventually, somebody might have discovered the value of a structured approach. Maybe that person would have promoted it zealously.
Maybe people who were trained in that method would have gone on to lead dozens of other companies and thus spread the sales method throughout the economy. But with that many ‘‘maybes’’ in the equation, it seems likely that without Patterson, the development of professional sales would have been delayed by a generation or more.
All Process oriented sales training traces its DNA to Patterson Professional Selling Skills (PSS), Strategic Selling, Solution Selling, SPIN Selling, or any other process-oriented approach, no one would blink twice. They fit right in. Some of the various sales methods that can trace their DNA back to Patterson
The Dale Carnegie approach is fundamentally about improving our relationships with other people, not about selling them more stuff. The Carnegie approach is about getting what you want by helping someone else get what he or she wants. In that sense, it’s very much about establishing a trusting relationship built on sincere acceptance of the other person’s point of view, on honest communication, and on sharing an open agenda.
Dale Carnegie 's 1st Principle
Act As If
One of Carnegie’s fundamental principles was that people could change their attitudes by changing their behavior. If you were scared and worried, you could overcome those feelings by acting as if you felt confident and serene.
Dale Carnegie's 2nd Principle
MAKE THE OTHER PERSON FEEL IMPORTANT
One of the fundamental Carnegie principles was that you can win friends and wield more influence if you can force yourself to pack your own ego away and focus on making the other person feel important. Everybody is a hero in his or her own mind, Carnegie felt, and would welcome any external evidence that supported that belief. Carnegie maintained that the desire to feel important is one of the characteristics that make human beings human.
Dale Carnegie's 3rd Principle
INSTILL AN ‘‘EAGER WANT’’
A third Carnegie principle is one that salespeople have applied in their work for generations.
Action springs out of what we fundamentally desire . . . and the best piece of advice which can be given to would-be persuaders, whether in business, in the home, in the school, in politics, is: first, arouse in the other person an eager want. He who can do this has the world with him. He who cannot walks a lonely way. Carnegie was convinced that this principle worked. If we wanted to persuade someone else to do something, we had to make him want to do it. It was an absolutely vital principle for sales.
Carnegie’s magic Dramatizing formula Begin dramatically, tell a good story, make a point, and deliver a benefit.
As a trained actor and a champion debater, Carnegie knew the value of making a vivid impression on the audience. In his public speaking classes, he encouraged students to make their messages vivid.
‘‘This is the day of the dramatization,’’ he wrote. ‘‘Merely stating a truth isn’t enough. The truth has to be made vivid, interesting, dramatic. You have to use showmanship. The movies do it. Radio does it. And you will have to do it if you want attention.
Dale Carnegie’s ideas on building rapport with prospects
1. Be your professional self. Don’t try to act like somebody other than who you are. If you do, it’ll come across as insincere or false. You can listen with interest and enthusiasm as a prospect talks about his recent trip to watch a NASCAR event, even if auto racing is about as appealing to you as having your teeth drilled. Remember—it’s his story. But don’t try to pretend to be a ‘‘good old boy’’ and fake a personal interest in racing that you don’t have.
2. Dress simply and professionally. Minimize jewelry, and wear a good watch and polished shoes. Keep the focus on the customer and away from your wardrobe.
3. Be forthright. Extend your hand, look the other person in the eye, and tell him how good it is to meet with him.
4. Take a second to scan her office. Do you see signs of a similar interest? Pictures of the family or a hobby, office layout? Awards she/he has won? Make a connection. If you truly don’t have the same interests and cannot see a personal connection, look for a professional connection.
5. Always set a time frame at the beginning of the meeting, whether it is on the telephone or in person.
‘‘Beth, I’ve planned an hour for our meeting; does that work for you? We’ll wrap up by 2:00 pm.’’
6. At the start of a meeting, resist the temptation to show off all you have learned about the customer’s business and industry from reading the company’s 10-K and annual report. You’ll make a bigger impression if you wait to display your knowledge by asking an incisive question later, after you’ve established rapport.
7. When the customer talks, listen. Look directly at him. Nod. Don’t interrupt. If you like to take extensive notes, ask permission to do so. (People don’t like to have someone writing down every word they say—it’s too much like giving a deposition and too little like having a conversation.) When the other person has made his point, wait for three counts before you say anything back to him. Linger over what he’s said. Give him a chance to take a breath. Show him that you are listening by stopping to absorb what he just said. One effective technique for remaining focused and interested, yet keeping your own ego in check and your emotions in the background, is to pretend that you are a journalist whose assignment is to interview this businessperson. What questions would you ask to encourage her to talk? What mannerisms and body language would you use to convincingly act the part of a professional interviewer? How do interviewers on television look at the person they are interviewing? How do they communicate interest nonverbally? You can use those techniques, too.
8. After listening, always feed back what you heard. This is the highest compliment you can pay someone. It is the most important sign of a truly conscious relationship. You listened, and you want to get it right. ‘‘Let me make sure I have this right, Mary. As you said, you’ve been in banking for 20 years, and you’ve never seen banking fees so low. Your concern is finding alternative sources of revenue to make up for what’s being lost from fee reductions. Is that right?’’
You should always recap at the end of a meeting, but it’s also a good idea to take these small validation steps every 10 minutes or so. One of the most important questions you can ask is, ‘‘Why?’’ after you’ve fed back what you heard.
9. Stay on the topic, but don’t try to control the conversation too tightly. If the customer wants to talk about how the war is affecting the company’s profit, listen; you may gain insights into business needs that you would never get by asking directly. As need statements emerge, be sure to write them down so that you can later match a solution and/or benefit to each need.
10. Treat your customers or prospects as your equals, as partners in having a successful meeting. Let them explain their problems and how their business and their decision processes work, and then carefully explain to them how your sales cycle usually progresses.
11. Never argue with the customer. Instead, if you disagree, take a few minutes to make sure you understand his position. Go back to tip 8 and feed back what you heard. Make sure you truly see the customer’s point of view. You are not there to judge him, you are there to solve his problems and provide a benefit to him and his company. One of the best ways to resolve conflict is to ask, ‘‘Why?’’
12. When leaving, extend your hand and offer a firm handshake and a smile, look the customer in the eyes, and thank her for her hospitality. Remind him/her of your next agreed-upon step.
‘‘Don’t sell the steak, sell the sizzle.’’
It’s more effective to ask customers which than to ask them if. When they are asked which type of a product they want, customers are more likely to choose one of the options you give them. In contrast, asking them if they want a product at all is more likely to produce a clear no. Elmer Wheeler’s focus was on the importance of using language in the most effective way possible to stimulate sales. You may have heard the phrase, ‘‘Don’t sell the steak, sell the sizzle.’’ Most people have. It has achieved the status of a proverb or a bit of folk wisdom. But it was invented by Elmer Wheeler as a way of making the point that bland, factual details don’t work. You have to show the customer what the benefits are.
Having the staff ask, ‘‘would you like any wine with your meal?’’ was only a tiny bit better. It was too easy for the customer to answer, ‘‘No.’’
Wheeler’s approach was to train the staff to ask diners a different question:
‘‘Would you prefer red or white wine with your meal tonight?’’ When the question was phrased that way, sales of wine shot up dramatically.
Having pump attendants ask ‘Shall I fill it up?’ instead of “ how many gallons you want “ gasoline sales shot up
• Wheelerpoint 1: Don’t sell the steak, sell the sizzle!
• Wheelerpoint 2: Don’t write—telegraph.
• Wheelerpoint 3: Say it with flowers.
• Wheelerpoint 4: Don’t ask if—ask which!
• Wheelerpoint 5: Watch your bark!
DON’T SELL THE STEAK—SELL THE SIZZLE!
So what’s a sizzle? And why should we focus on selling it instead of the actual product?
What Wheeler means by a ‘‘sizzle’’ is the primary appeal to customers— the aspect of our product or service that catches their attention and makes them think about what the product will do for them. It’s the fact or detail that is most closely linked to the interests of the receiver.
People want to know, what’s in it for me?
And until they see that there is something in it for them, something that they want, they’re not likely to listen to our sales pitch.
Have you ever sent a telegram? They’re pretty rare these days, but in Wheeler’s time they were a common way to send urgent messages. They were extremely expensive, though, so people had to communicate as much as possible in as few words as possible. That’s what Wheeler is getting at in this principle: You need to get the customer’s ‘‘IMMEDIATE and FAVORABLE attention in the fewest possible words.’’
SAY IT WITH FLOWERS
What Wheeler means by this principle is that you must prove your claims.
If you say to your spouse, ‘‘Happy anniversary,’’ that’s good, but if you also hold out a bouquet of flowers as you say it, that’s better. As he says, ‘‘Give a quick customer benefit—but then prove it the next second.’’6
Wheeler seems to be suggesting that we use two different kinds of proof.
On the one hand, we can substantiate our claims of benefits by offering a factual example or proof statement. On the other hand, we can provide emotional proof that we believe in our claims by demonstrating the kind of body language that communicates sincerity.
DON’T ASK IF—ASK WHICH!
This is one of Wheeler’s best insights. As he explains you should always frame your words (especially at the close) so that you give the prospect a choice between something and SOMETHING, never between something and NOTHING.’’ Most parents of toddlers have stumbled on the magic of this approach, but we may not see how the same psychology works with adults, too.
When asking for the order, when asking the customer to agree to move to the next stage of the sales process, when simply asking for an appointment— ask the customer in such a way that she or he must choose between two options, both of which you are happy with. You can ask which of a couple of options that customer wants to buy, when the product should be delivered, how many items should be in the initial order. But you don’t ask if the customer wants to buy.
WATCH YOUR BARK
Wheeler’s final point means that you need to deliver your message effectively.
It’s not just using the right words; it’s saying them the right way that delivers results. In his own words: ‘‘The finest ‘sizzle’ that you ‘telegraph’ in ten seconds, with huge bouquets of ‘flowers’ and lots of ‘which,’ ‘what,’ ‘where,’ and ‘how,’ will flop if the voice is flat.’’9
In face-to-face selling, using a monotone or speaking in a whiny voice will undercut your message. Nervous gestures like wringing your hands together or playing with your hair, will suggest that you are not confident of what you are saying. Communicating optimism, enthusiasm, and energy through your voice and gestures helps create those same feelings in the audience.
This is a point that Dale Carnegie made, of course, and one that his disciple Frank Bettger repeated . . . enthusiastically.
One of Wheeler’s strongest ideas
Ask ‘‘Why?’’ when you get objections, and don’t forget to ask ‘‘Which?’’ when it’s time for the order.
Joe Girard sold more cars by himself than 95 percent of all the dealerships in North America. In fact, he was so successful that Joe Girard is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as ‘‘the world’s greatest salesman.’’
So how did he do it? And what big idea did this car salesman contribute?
Girard is basically a relationship salesperson. He’s pretty explicit about it, in fact: ‘‘Make [the customer] a friend and he’ll work for you.’’ Even though Girard sold what anybody would call a commodity—Chevrolet cars and trucks—he actually saw himself as selling a relationship
JOE GIRARD’S LAW OF 250
The principle is this: Most people have about 250 other people in their lives who are important enough to invite to a wedding or to a funeral.
Pretty simple, isn’t it? But really powerful.
Each person I do business with represents 250 other people. If I do a great job, 250 more people are likely to get a recommendation to buy from me. If I do a lousy job, I have just made 250 enemies.
Consistently doing a good job—building strong relationships, treating people fairly, and giving them what they want—will make selling a lot easier in the long run.
Excerpts from "The Giants of Sales" Book by Tom Sant