|Winning Sales Strategies
of Top Performers
by Barbara Sanfilippo
achieve the critical edge over your competition, consider these seven
sales strategies of top performers.
ATTRACT BUSINESS TO YOU
Imagine being flooded with phone calls and emails from hot prospects
requesting information on your products and services. Top performers
have a philosophy that works. "Don't make cold calls - attract warm
By infiltrating key target markets and positioning yourself as "the
expert", you can achieve celebrity status in your niche. To do this,
simply ask your best customers and prospects three key questions:
- What professional industry association do you belong to?
- What industry magazines, journals or newsletters do you read?
- Would you be willing to help me by guiding me on how I can join,
attend or speak at your association meeting and submit an article for
your industry publication?
I remember advising Mark, a sales rep years ago after a workshop. At
the time he was struggling selling advertising space for a newspaper. As
I suggested, he went back to some satisfied customers for help. One of
his customers was a printer and suggested he get involved with his state
printing association. Mark joined the association, attended the
meetings, spoke at one meeting and wrote a series of mini-articles in
their newsletter. As a result, his business increased significantly and
he is enjoying his celebrity status in the printing industry.
|ESTABLISH CREDIBILITY AND DIFFERENTIATE
How can you stand out from the pack of sales professionals and
consultants all offering similar services? It certainly helps to package
yourself professionally. Consider including the following items in your
- A jazzy bio sheet listing your experience, training,
certifications and industry associations, etc. (This is not a resume.)
- Your personal mission statement describing your commitment to your
- Your service standards and guarantee.
- Client testimonial letters.
- Articles published in your industry, trade magazines and
newsletters or those read by your customer.
PREPARE, PREPARE, AND PLAN YOUR CALLS
Today's customers and prospects have very little time to waste. They
want solutions. A sales consultant who demonstrates a keen understanding
of customers needs and shows up "prepared" will earn the business.
Gathering information on your prospect and the company is critical to
your success. Try the following suggestions:
- Review their web site.
- Call ahead for the latest product brochure and annual report
- Ask for a copy of their strategic or marketing plan and see if you
can tie your service to the strategic goals of your customers.
- Ask for a copy of the organization chart to get familiar with the
various departments and identify key decision makers.
- Ask for some staff and customer newsletters.
- Interview a few of the key people in advance of your meeting.
In addition to reviewing key documents, it's helpful to review the
following questions in advance:
- What is your objective for the call?
- Who is your competitor for the business and how are you better?
- What services do you anticipate this customer needs?
- What key "open-probing" questions will you ask?
- What are the benefits you will stress?
- What are the most difficult objections that may arise?
- Who are the key decision makers and influencers?
COACH AND CRITIQUE YOUR SALES CALLS
When was the last time you had a sales manager or respected peer
critique your call? It's amazing how sloppy we can get over the years
and not even know it. Top performers never say, "I'm a seasoned sales
professional." Seasoned sometimes stands for stagnant. Superstars are
like Olympic athletes -- always looking to improve their performance.
Can you guess what the top three weakest areas are for most sales
professionals? Number one is probing, particularly open-probing. Most
salespeople talk too much and listen too little. Second is not asking
for the business. Finally, many sales professionals are unprepared and
waste the prospect's time.
So why not decide to be the best? Ask to be critiqued. Invite a sales
superstar to be your coach and mentor and take them on a call.
COMPETE ON SERVICE NOT PRICE
Chances are there will always be a competitor who can beat your price
and a customer looking for the lowest price. We can rarely win at the
price game, however, we can compete on service.
Most customers will pay a little extra if they can be sure of receiving
reliable, dependable and consistent service. To become a more
customer-focused sales professional, try the following:
Randomly sample at least 5-10 customers a week or month to rate their
satisfaction. For relationship sales, conduct a quarterly or annual
client review meeting with your best customers.
Survey your customers to find out what they expect from your product or
service and what good service means to them. Use the information to
create measurable or verifiable written service standards.
BE PERSISTENT AND CONSISTENT
Top performers don't give up easily -- they are persistent. Most sales
professionals will call a prospect 2-3 times, nearly half will follow up
4-5 times and only the top 10% will make the 6-10 contacts necessary to
get the business. These 10% have a good sense of who is likely to buy
and who is a qualified prospect. A brief email, handwritten note,
article or fax is all you need to keep your name in front of the
The key is to have an excellent contact management system such as
Goldmine to keep conversation notes, determine the next step and
schedule a reminder call or note. Be persistent in your sales efforts
and consistent in your follow-up!
DREAM BIG! -- MAKE A DREAM BOARD
While waiting for your sales to increase and your dreams to appear, it's
important to focus on success and avoid discouragement. Pictures are a
powerful visual reminder of your future dreams because they impact your
emotions and increase your desire. Bob and I took pictures of
Mediterranean dream homes around the San Diego area several years ago
even though we did not have the money. We looked at the photos often and
imagined living in a spacious, light home with canyon views. A year
later a builder sold us one of the distressed homes for nearly half
price and we moved into our dream home shortly thereafter.
An average performer believes, "A dream is a fantasy event in my life
never meant to occur." A top performer believes, "A dream is a future
event in my life waiting to occur." To increase your sales effortlessly
and achieve your life's dreams, you must believe you deserve it. Act as
if your dream is coming and make your own "Dream Board."
|Once referred to as a "diminutive dynamo", Barbara
idea-packed, energizing and interactive programs that not only inform,
but inspire people to "make it happen!"
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