If you want to close more sales, learn how to open them. Cathleen Fillmore, who runs the speakers bureau, Speakers Gold, recently asked me to participate on a conference call she had arranged for several of her clients. Here's a portion of what came out of that call.
Whether you're a corporate sales professional, a self employed income earner or a home based business entrepreneur, the principles uncovered in this interview will work for you. Enjoy and to your Success!
Want To Close Sales? Learn How To Open.
When he gets inquiries from meeting planners & prospective customers, Howard Olsen’s closing rate is astronomical. Howard is internationally known as a sales transformation expert and has done multi-million-dollar sales on nothing more than a handshake.
“I close more than 90% of my qualified opportunities with meeting planners and prospective customers where I can have a good initial chat with them first. A couple of years ago, I got a call from the VP of sales at a very large internationally known company saying 'We’re told that your content is excellent and you're dynamic in front of an audience, so we're considering hiring you for our next conference.' ”
“I responded that the most important thing is to make sure that I'm the right fit and that I can provide what your organization is looking for. If not, I'd be the first to tell you I can't help you. ”
“Since their office was not far from my home, I offered to meet the planner in person. When we met, I asked whether this was an annual conference and how long she’d been running them. She responded that this was her tenth year. I then inquired about what she liked most when running conferences, then just listened. I then asked what where the most important outcomes that she was looking for. She responded and of course, I was able to deliver on those outcomes. ”
And my final question was, “You've been running this conference for 10 years and you love it. May I ask what do you like least about running conferences?” She paused and considered her response and then she said, 'Speakers who don't deliver what they said they were going to or who are so old school that they're not relevant to our young audience.'” It was a very uncomfortable moment. But a beautiful uncomfortable moment.
“She said it had been a problem the last three years in a row and that she had hired some name brand speakers who were old school, disingenuous and unengaging, adding, 'If it happens again, I could lose my job.' ”
It's All About Outcomes - Their Desired Outcomes
“I realized my job was not to convince her that I could teach her people how to sell better but to demonstrate that I not only had the subject matter expertise they're looking for but that I would do everything in my power to engage the audience and restore her credibility in the eyes of her peers. ”
“I promised to deliver a presentation that was going to show her as the rock star that she deserved to be seen as. The next day she called to say, 'Congratulations, we’d love to have you address our group.' I got the engagement, simply because I took the time to figure out what her greatest challenge was and I then presented the solution to that challenge.”
“The same is true for all of you. Marketing and Prospecting is all about generating interest; but once that interest has been created you have to have a conversation to determine the specific outcomes and challenges they seek to address so you can make a relevant presentation to capitalize on the opportunities in front of you. Ask questions such as 'What's your greatest challenge? What do you like most about doing this? What do you not like about it? And then just listen. The customer will often say something very insightful, profound and very revealing which helps you discover the key to closing the sale. ' ”
“Your customers aren't looking for products or services; they're looking for outcomes and solutions to challenges or problems they face. They want to know what their life will look like as result of engaging with you, your product or service. But often they don't know how to express the outcomes they're after. It's the opening conversation around the questions that you ask that helps them tell their story and define those outcomes for both of you."
No one ever hired me because they wanted a training a program or a speech. In my case, through training, they either wanted to improve sales results, create a unified process or learn how to position value over price. My expertise only qualified me for the conversation; I still needed to determine their specific outcome and present a solutution that addressed it in order to close. In the case of my speaking programs, tthe decision maker typically wants to shift a perspective, inspire new thinking ad motivate change. For meeting planners, often they're looking for expertise that fits the meeting theme but is delivered in a high value way so that this year's conference attendees will want to attend again next year - in other words it all about value added content and delivery that sells more tickets! My speeches and training programs are not the end in and of themselves, they are the vehicles I use to deliver the outcomes the customer was after. The same will be true for you. Determine the outcome your customers are after then show them how you can provide it; your products and services are simply the vehicles through which you deliver those outcomes.
If you want to close more sales, learn how to open them!