Messages from the Masters
Working smart means making the highest and best use of your most precious asset. Sometimes I ask people at sales seminars to name their most important asset. Many say it's their talent -- their ability to sell.
Talent can be developed, and ability can be acquired. But the most important asset you have comes in a limited quantity that can't be increased and can't be stretched. If you're going to be a successful salesperson, you must learn to use it wisely and effectively.
We're talking about time.
It doesn't matter how good you are at selling if you let your best opportunities slip away from you because you don't have enough time to cash in on them.
How wisely do you invest your time?
If you often find yourself saying, "I could make more calls if I just had more time," you may be squandering your most precious and limited resource.
The bad news is that you can't make more time: Each hour has only 60 minutes, each day only 24 hours, and each week only seven days. The good news is that you don't need to.
You can spend your precious time on three types of effort:
(1) Things that lie beyond your range of effective action.
It's great to be ambitious, but it's a waste of time to attempt the impossible. Don't try selling snow cones to Eskimos or fur coats to Fiji Islanders.
(2) Things that you can accomplish easily enough, but that don't lead you toward your objectives.
This is called wheel spinning. It happens when you use all your clever strategies to get an appointment with the CEO, only to learn that the CEO delegates all buying decisions to the director of purchasing. It happens when you devote precious time to selling to a business that's being phased out and offers no chance for future sales and no opportunity for cross selling.
(3) Things that you can accomplish and that take you toward your objectives.
These are the activities you want to devote the major portion of your time to. These are the important activities.
Some people spend far more time on urgent tasks than they do on important tasks. There's a big difference. Urgent tasks are things you have to do immediately to avoid some kind of crisis. Important tasks are the things that move you toward your goals.
You can minimize the attention you need to pay to urgent tasks by taking care of problems before they become urgent. Little problems become big problems when you fail to take care of them at the outset. That big, frisky kitten out there scaring the chickens may be annoying but harmless. But give it a couple of years to grow and it becomes a lion carrying off sheep. Minor customer complaints may be nothing but nuisances, but let them accumulate without attending to them and soon a major customer has defected to a competitor.
The second element in building consulting relationships is to get involved with your customers. By listening, you're able to learn what your prospects want, and you can proceed to sell it to them.
You have to listen to each customer intently and with concern. You respond to each with viable solutions and advice. And you build confidence by proving that your customers can rely on you for guidance.
When you can reach this level of communication and understanding with your client, you are creating a powerful trust bond.
You might call this process "creative communication."
In my seminars and corporate consultations, I share many specific techniques and tactics to improve listening. Here are some important ones:
(1) Make the decision to listen.
If you're going to listen closely, you have to make a conscious choice to listen. If you don't, your mind will be led astray by distractions, you won't hear everything the prospect is saying, and you'll miss out on valuable information and insights. The only way to overcome distractions and really listen is to make a conscious choice to listen and then make yourself stick with that decision. When you go into a dialogue with a prospect, make an inward commitment to listen, then stick to your commitment.
Concentrate on what the prospect is saying. As each point is made, weigh the evidence for and against it. After several points have been made, review them in your mind. And be sure to tune into the prospect's non-verbal communication.
Respond to what your customers say. Ask questions and encourage them to continue. Show that you care. Nobody likes to be ignored.
(3) Listen for feelings and ideas.
This is how you gain a real understanding of your customers. To listen on this level means you try to sense how they're feeling about the subjects under discussion.
Is your customer pleased with past experiences with your product or company? Upset about something? Indifferent about a certain feature?
Reaching your customers' real emotions gives you a competitive edge in a market in which price differential is progressively losing its significance.
It takes selling savvy to position yourself as a consultant with your customers. But professionals realize the value of such relationships.Earning customer loyalty and repeat business provides the major solid foundation for a successful career in selling. Manage your time and listen effectively -- and watch your sales career soar! To learn more about Nido Qubein and/or to receive 20% off when you order his audios or books, visit www.yoursuccessstore.com.