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Greg Nanigian and Associates, Inc. | Braintree, MA,

Is learning the tricks of the trade a quick path to success?

No! It’s a quick path to failure.

How can that be? Without such knowledge, won’t the competition have the upper hand? Won’t you have a handicap when it comes to maneuvering a prospect into a buying position? No, again. The path to success is not paved with tricks: it’s paved with knowledge and skill.

Success is built on a solid knowledge of your market, your industry, your competition, and your customers’ needs for your product or service. It’s also built on your ability to skillfully apply your knowledge with the appropriate strategy at the appropriate time. Rather than trying to learn the tricks of the trade... learn the trade and build your skill.

How much time do you invest each day learning your trade and improving your skill? If you’re like most salespeople, the answer is very little, perhaps none. So, when do you do the research to stay updated on your competition’s strategies, strengths, and weaknesses? When do you explore industry trends and changes in your marketplace? When do you practice your sales techniques, hone your existing selling skills, and develop new skills?

If you don’t schedule time in your daily routine to increase your knowledge and build your skill, you will likely never get around to it. Allocate time each day for these activities. Get to work an hour earlier and invest that time reading your industry trade journals and the business section of the newspaper. Research your competitions’ marketing and advertising materials and their web sites. Review and practice your prospecting approach. Develop new approaches for helping prospects discover the need for your product or service.

There are plenty of activities you can do each day to build your knowledge and skill. It may be difficult at first—staying focused. But, if you stick with it and avoid the distractions, it will become easier... and you’ll enjoy more success.

What Are You Looking For?

How are arson investigators able to sort through the rubble of a burned out building and pinpoint the source of ignition and the path of the fire?

How are National Transportation Safety Board investigators able to examine the vast debris of a plane crash and determine the cause of the crash?

How are software engineers able to scrutinize thousands of lines of code of a crashed program and identify the offending entries?

How are watchmakers able to inspect the inner working of a broken timepiece and locate the source of the malfunction?

How? By knowing what to look for.

Do you know what to look for when you meet with a prospect?

Are you thoroughly knowledgeable about your product or service? Do you understand the situations it was designed to address, the problems it was designed to solve, and the results it was designed to achieve? Do you know exactly what to look for in order to diagnose a prospective client’s situation as one for which your product or service is a best fit solution?

When you know what to look for, you can develop and ask appropriate questions to explore those aspects of the situation that are addressed by your product or service. Doing so not only helps you diagnose the situation, but also helps the prospect better understand the nature of his problem from the perspective of how your product or service will solve it. The greater the number of questions you ask, the greater the amount of evidence builds and the greater the number of logical connections the prospect makes that your product or service is indeed the best fit for the situation.

When you know what to look for, you and your prospect have a greater chance of finding it, and you have a better chance of making a sale.

Obtain a Commitment with a Virtual Presentation

The prospect, appearing eager to make a decision, asked for a presentation.

You invested a significant amount of time and energy developing it.

You delivered your presentation in a polished professional manner... expecting a decision at its conclusion.

Now, three days later, you’re waiting for the prospect’s call... and his decision.

There’s nothing more frustrating than investing a great deal of time and energy developing a presentation, delivering it, and then waiting for days, sometimes longer, while the prospect “thinks it over” and ultimately makes a buying decision.

To avoid the waiting game and also get the prospect to make a commitment about what is going to happen at the conclusion of your presentation, make a virtual presentation.

Suppose you sold security systems and a prospect wanted a presentation for an intrusion alarm system for a new warehouse. You would have to conduct a site survey, develop an appropriate system to meet all of the prospect’s requirements, draw a preliminary system schematic, calculate material costs and installation times, package all the information in a proposal, and finally, develop and rehearse your presentation. A fairly large commitment on your part with only the hope that the prospect will be persuaded to buy.

Before actually doing all of that work, do it virtually. How? By asking the prospect the following:

Mr. Prospect, suppose I were to conduct a site survey, develop an appropriate system to meet all of your requirements, draw a preliminary system schematic, calculate material costs and installation times, package all the information in a proposal, and make a presentation where I thoroughly demonstrated how our system would do precisely what you require, which is to deter, detect, and document unauthorized access to the premises, what would happen?

In fifteen seconds, you’ve done all the work. If the prospect is not willing to make a commitment to an action that is in your best interest—and, sitting by the phone for days waiting for his decision is definitely not in your best interest—you probably shouldn’t commit to doing the work. If you feel you MUST do the work, charge for it and agree to apply the initial fee to the project if it is awarded to you. That strategy won’t guarantee that you’ll get the sale, but at the very least, you’ll get paid for your efforts.

© Sandler Systems, Inc. All rights reserved.

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