My name is c.j., and here's the April 2007 bonus issue of Psyche-Selling TM eNewsletter.
This issue's main article is also a practical sales tip on "The Problem with Asking Customers Questions", and it focuses how to make customers share the challenges they face with you, when they haven't learnt to trust you yet.
Here's an on-point summary:
Asking questions is the best way of knowing your customers implicit and explicit needs, their buying processes as well as allowing you to take control of the situation;
Yet, most new prospects and customers whom you are contacting for the first time, they tend to be rather stand-offish, and are not willing to divulge much about their situation and needs;
There are 3 suggestions to overcome the above issue, but each has its own flaws which you have to decide how best to use each method.
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Practical Tips on Selling:
The Problem with Asking Questions
by c.j. Ng
If you are always reading up the latest and most authoritative in sales literature, you 'll find that books ranging from Solution Selling to SPIN Selling to Conceptual Selling advocates sales people to ask customers questions.
In fact, it is a fact asking questions is the best way of knowing your customers implicit and explicit needs, their buying processes as well as allowing you to take control of the situation.
However, if you have been making enough cold calls, you will know that most new prospects and customers whom you are contacting for the first time, they tend to be rather stand-offish, and are not willing to divulge much about their situation and needs.
Those few remaining who are friendly to you on your first call, tend to want some freebies from you WITHOUT ever wanting to give anything back!
So what are the ways that you can build instant trust and rapport, so that you can ask whose questions, get the answers you need, and remain in control of your sales processes?
Here are 3 ways:
Be sincerely speaking from your customer's interest;
Share a reference case;
Avoid cold calling
Be sincerely speaking from your customer's interest
"You can make more friends in two months by becoming really interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you. " - Dale Carnegie
While selling and making friends are rather different, the principle lies in that customers don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care.
Hence, before you ask any questions, you may want to let your customer know:
What are the things that you possibly can do for her;
And in order for you to help her, you would like to ask a few simple questions so as to find out more about what she does (and what challenges she may face)
An example will be, "Hi, I'm Joe from ABC company. I'd like to find out if your company can improve your debtors' aging by as much as 20% over the next 3 months with an easily implemented method. Can I ask you a few questions?"
The downside of being sincere is that customers, especially in a place like China, tends to reply with, "So what are you trying to sell me?"
Still, you stand a far better chance for being sincerely speaking in your customer's interest than if you don't. One good place to find out how you can do so with great finesse is www.unlockthegame.com The owner of the site, Ari Galpher, is an expert when it comes to building instant trust and rapport with customers whom you are calling for the first time.
Share a reference case
When customers say, "So what are you trying to sell me?" or cast any doubts, it's usually because there are too many other sales people out there who have been pushing products without really getting to know their customers well.
Such customers haven't learnt how to trust you yet.
One way of overcoming such responses is to share a reference case with the customer on how you have helped others get better results from your products/ services.
A reference case usually have a minimum of 3 parts:
What did you/ your company/ your products or services did to help; and
What are the results
So when a customer says , "So what are you trying to sell me?" , a possible response can be, "Hang on......I'm not going after your money yet. What I'd like to do is to share with you a successful case where we helped XYZ company to improve their debt collection by using our SuperDuper Debt Reduction service. Eventually, they managed to half the time to collect their debts within 3 months. Would you like to find out more on what exactly we did to help them?"
Of course, as in any cold calls, there will be some customers who will say "No!" no matter what you do. If that happens, that's OK, because your time and energy will then be more effectively used by those customers who say, "Tell me more", won't it?
More details can be found in Mike Bosworth's Solution Selling (see http://www.amazon.com/Solution-Selling-Creating-Difficult-Markets/dp/0786303158/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/103-5229965-9983833?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1176101500&sr=8-1)
Avoid cold calling
There are yet other experts who advocate that cold calling is a thing of the past, and to be successful, you have to have "warm calls" instead of cold ones.
The various ways in doing so are:
Getting referrals from your existing customers;
Getting referrals from business associates;
Doing your own marketing (such as sending e-mails/ faxes) before you call;
Establishing yourself as an expert in the field (just like what I'm doing with this enewsletter. Giving talks and writing books/ magazine articles are also effective ways to make others perceive you as an expert)
Participating in conferences and trade shows (if your company has the budget to do so)
The downside of not cold calling is that you may not have enough leads in the pipeline to work on, especially when you have just started selling in your field of business. In the world of referrals, it's usually operated under the notion of "Givers Gain". That means you have to be willing to share and give (be it referrals for others' businesses or simply your time to cultivate the relationship). That means going the "no cold call" way might need a bit more time (than you can afford) before you generate any sales.
However, here are some resources to learn from if you want to know more on how to get new customers without having to make cold calls:
The Anatomy of Buzz by Emanuel Rosen (see http://www.amazon.com/Anatomy-Buzz-Create-Mouth-Marketing/dp/0385496680/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/103-5229965-9983833?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1176104447&sr=8-1)
Without any doubt, asking questions is the most optimal way of finding out your customers' needs, their buying processes as well as allowing you be be in control of your sales process. There are a number of ways to make your customers talk, and there is no best way to build trust and rapport with them.
My advice is that you evaluate each way and determine which one work best for you. If need be, use all 3 ways mentioned above! Should you need more assistance in this area, feel free to contact email@example.com All information shall be kept in confidence.
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Feedback and Help Needed
If you like what you have read so far, and have contacts at the press or other publications, can you help forward his newsletter to them as well? I would like to volunteer my services as a guest columnist/ contributor for selected publications.
Also, if you find this useful, feel free to pass this to your friends, colleagues and even customers too. Feel free to also adapt the articles featured onto your own letterhead as well, if you think your clients and business associates will appreciate such a gesture from you.
At the meantime, pls. send your feedback on how this can be a better newsletter to email@example.com. Thanks a lot!
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