By Allan S. Boress, CPA, CFE, and Michael Cummings
Would you like to close more sales - faster -easier? Work with a better quality of client? Never be concerned about where the next client is coming from?
Mistake #1 Selling On The Customer's Turf
Problem: Professionals try to qualify and close at a prospect's office -- because it is more convenient for customers and makes it easier to get meetings.
Solution: NEVER conduct the initial sales interview on the client's turf.
If you do, two problems occur. First, this approach puts the client in control. You must always be in control of the selling interview.
Next, the client will be distracted. Wouldn't you know it? -at the single most important point of the interview the phone rings or the secretary comes in. It's too hard to sell with distractions!
You must get the clients out of their environment, preferably to a private dining room in a club or restaurant - or a conference room at your office - where you can turn the "sale" into an interview, with much less pressure on you.
Make them comfortable. Get them to answer the questions you need. These meetings will flow beautifully. And the client either tells you how you can help them or show that they were just on a fishing expedition.
Mistake #2 Presenting Solutions Too Soon In The Interview
Problem: Professionals see the sales call as a time to "pitch" ideas, products and services. They fail to get the prospect to be open and engaged.
Solution:Interview for 80% of the sales call
Repeatedly, we have seen people launch into some kind of boring discussion of their company, the service expertise they are pitching - without enough good questions that open the client up as a business therapist would. That's not selling - that's giving away your ideas, boring people to death, and never finding out if the people you are talking to are real potential clients! Two rules: 1) Clients MUST qualify for a presentation 2) All presentation must be personalized by the ammunition you get by interviewing.
Mistake #3 Failing To Interview Like A Doctor Does
Problem: Professionals often ask a generic set of service-specific questions rather than getting to know the prospect's personal story
Solution: Be prepared with a customized questioning strategy
Even in situations where MILLIONS OF DOLLARS of fees are on the table, many professionals venture out on first interviews giving little thought as to what is going to happen because they think they are naturally prepared due to years of experience, knowledge, degrees, yada yada. How would you feel if a doctor didn't review your history and ask you a thorough set of questions tailored to your history? You must create a complete, customized questioning strategy before you go - questions that will give you exactly the information you need to know how to proceed and QUESTIONS THE CLIENTS WANT TO ANSWER
Mistake #4 Listening Superficially
Problem: Professionals listen selfishly -- just waiting for an opening to pitch services and benefits. They fail to personalize the interview and prospects know it.
Solution: Listen like a best friend or professional therapist
Prospect's don't care about what you have to say! They care about themselves and their problems. They want somebody to listen to their problems.
You want prospects to be open and honest. Superb listening skills are essential to make this happen. Listen first to see if this is a REAL prospect - who is telling you why they must do business with you. Next, prospects must tell you how to sell them.
You must learn to listen to the client without interruption, without interjecting your brilliant ideas at the wrong time, by not using unexplained terms or words, and being so open that they are open with you.
Mistake # 5 Being Generic
Problem: Most professionals do not have a personal value proposition for the customers they interview.
Solution: Define what makes YOU unique, valuable and relevant for this customer.
A prospect is always thinking - "Why should I buy this product or service from YOU - not your company! Why should I establish a working relationship with YOU? The way you conduct the sales interview SHOWS the client what it is like to work with you. Do you listen? Do you offer a thoughtful range of options? Why is your background or experience relevant to me? What EXTRAS do I get from you vs. another financial professional?
Our 'I Hate Selling' DVD answers all of these problems and is the most complete, holistic and proven selling system for professionals published. Visit http://www.sageselling.com/products2 to order. For the past 20 years, Michael Cumming and Allan Boress have worked with industry leading professional firms and financial services companies as trainers, coaches and business development consultants. Award-winning speakers and instructors, they have built the entrepreneurial skills of thousands of professionals at hundreds of firms, skills that include personal marketing, building referrals, and cultivating relationships with customers.