A Look At Sales Techniques
As I mentioned earlier in the year, I am currently working in a role that is sales/commission based. I am part of a fantastic team, very little cutthroat, quite supportive and am happier than I have ever been. My team is comprised of a manager and one other account manager. All three of us have a certain number of clients that we are responsible for and of course we are all focused on getting new accounts. The service we sell is the exact same – yet we each have very different approaches. This isn’t an “Art of the Deal” type of post; I don’t profess to know everything there is to know about selling/closing. The approach I strive for isn’t important either – I’d love to hear your feedback on which you think is the most effective. A combination of the three is the easy way out – but if you HAD to choose, let me know what you think.
The first account manager (aka sales rep) I would like to discuss is the Dancer. This approach is to schmooze the client, make them like and trust you – then let the purchase orders start coming your way. It starts with a friendly drop-in, a cup of coffee or maybe a free lunch. When you are the master of this approach, you can sell something without any knowledge of what you are actually selling. You craft a set of transferable skills so the product or service does not matter.
To a passerby it may not even seem like work – you are just having a conversation and making a connection with someone. The Dancer requires confidence. The sale is already made before you walk in the door, just a matter of time. When you walk out, the client may not even know what they’ve purchased but they feel good about it.
Our second account manager is The Expert. The Expert may have the ability to connect with a prospective buyer, but where The Dancer sells themselves first and the product second – The Expert focuses on the product. Just like The Dancer – confidence is key. You go in knowing your product will be good for this client and your goal is to find a way to get them to see that. The sale is a solution to a problem they may or may not know they have. You are The Expert, you can show them the way.
The Expert spends a lot of time going over spec sheets, attending seminars and working directly with the product or service they are selling. You have to be honest when they don’t know something, but the goal is to have the answers for anything that comes flying your way. When you walk out, the client knows exactly what they are getting and why they need it, but they may not be happy about having to spend the money of course.
Lastly we have the Inquisitor. This account manager doesn’t require a ton of pizazz like The Dancer; nor do they need a lot of product knowledge. The Inquisitor knows the questions to ask, and knows a way to ask them that gets extremely valuable information. The only really important piece of information the Inquisitor needs to know going into the sales pitch is what their bottom line is. At what price is the job not worth it?
The question may be as simple as “What are you paying right now?”, immediately followed by “I can do better than that” as long as it is above the bottom line. The Inquisitor relies on having a price already in place from The Expert and/or downplaying The Dancer. They know if The Expert is doing it for a certain price, that the price is likely fair.
If the client gives a price and it is too low – the Inquisitor asks you questions that make you believe you’ve been taken advantage of by The Dancer. “Are they including this, I’m going to include this which is why my price is higher – if you don’t want it done properly I’ll match their price”. The Inquisitor likely closes every deal where you get answers to your questions. Without the answers – you crash and burn. When you walk out – the client has no further information, but they know they are paying less than they were so they are happy you came.
It IS For Closers
Regardless of if you have the dance, the knowledge or the right questions at the end of the day what matters in sales is closing the deal. Ideally, you want to be first in mind when that customer needs another of whatever you are selling. If The Dancer closes, they have managed to establish a relationship with the customer and leave a lasting impression. When The Expert closes, the client knows they are the person to go to for any answers. When The Inquisitor closes, the customer knows where to go for the best price. All three of us close on a regular basis – selling the same product to the same people. So without using results as a benchmark – which is the most effective selling technique?
Sarah and I are strong believers that EVERY role is a sales role, regardless of industry (teachers included). If you are in (or have been in) a direct sales role, which technique do you use? Feel free to go off book if you have a different technique altogether – I know there are a lot out there!