Customer Experience News & Trends

The No. 1 skill salespeople need for closing

There’s a saying among salespeople that customers buy with emotion and justify with facts. But the bottom line is: If your customers don’t feel comfortable with you, your closing rates will suffer.

According to recent research at both Harvard and Stanford universities, the number one sales skill for success in the 21st century is the ability to connect with prospects and customers. If you don’t connect with prospects early, there will be no closing.

The first 10 seconds

In the first 10 seconds you have to intrigue prospects enough that they will say, “Tell me more.” The first words out of your mouth can’t be the specs of your product or service or a 10-point comparison of your product with the competition’s.

If you connect with the business problem only and don’t take the time to relate to the prospect, chances of closing the sale are reduced. You also need to connect on a personal level.

Think of ways you can introduce yourself and position your business so that you will always make a human connection.

Discipline required

Introducing yourself in 10 seconds can be one of the most challenging things you will ever learn to do. Most salespeople can talk about their business for hours, but crystallizing what they do in a couple of sentences and then stopping takes discipline.

Your message should be succinct, compelling and have a hook. A hook may cause a prospect to say, “Really? Tell me more,” or “That sounds really interesting.”

Test your introductions

It’s a good idea to develop two or three compelling introductions and then test them with your prospects. Your goal is to develop several dynamite introductions that are fresh, interesting and intriguing. Look for the one that gets the most positive response — that’s the keeper.

Find the hook

Write down the first thought that comes to mind as you answer these five questions:

  1. What’s the most unusual aspect of what you do? Try to think about several customer examples and the results you delivered.
  2. What does your product or service deliver that the competition doesn’t? Try to come up with an example of a customer who chose you because of the benefits competitors couldn’t match.
  3. What’s your most interesting customer story? What story would leave your listener spellbound?
  4. Most exciting? Tell a positive story about how you had to deliver under pressure.
  5. Most dramatic? Try to come up with an example of a sale or delivery that helped a customer solve a difficult problem.

Stories help

People will pay more attention to a story than to your bragging about what your product or service will do. Try to keep the story to 30 seconds and follow this format: state the situation, describe the action you took, and then articulate the results you achieved.

Adapted from the book “No More Cold Calling,” by Joanne S. Black, a leading authority on referral selling. Her clients include Charles Schwab, the Marlin Company, the Mechanics Bank and Wells Fargo Bank.

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