The story goes like this…elite golfer Gary Player was at the height of his playing prowess and pulled off another brilliant shot in what was an extremely impressive round of gold even by his standards. A sports reporter suggests to the golfer how lucky that shot was, to which Gary Player replied …”funny you should say that, because the more I practice, the luckier I seem to get”
You probably heard it before – and nowadays there are arguments about who said it first – but you get the drift.
The funny thing is the more you prepare and practice, for anything, the less lucky you will get. The less luck you’ll need, because you’re removing luck from the equation altogether and replacing it with certainty.
And there we have it…
Brilliant sales results do not happen by accident
Are you still ‘winging it’? Maybe a quick two minute check before making that call? A quick look in the file before getting out of your car? With masses of information at everyone’s finger tips these days, that’s a high risk strategy.
Without preparation in sales you will no doubt still achieve the occasional fluke – but that’s what it will often be, luck, fluke, an order taken, barely earned.
On the whole, sustained sales success certainly does not happen by chance. To be relaxed, confident and in control – and ultimately successful in sales – takes some level of preparation.
From the shortest telephone chat to a week-long exhibition or conference, you need to be clear in what you want, clear in the outcome you seek. You also need to be clear in how you’re going to achieve it – once you’ve defined what ‘it’ is.
Planning for success
Here’s a set of questions to help you prepare for any interaction – whether it be a short catch up chat, a full blown pitch, a presentation or a conference. Depending on the context you can use all, or just some of these questions.
Try these questions before your next sales call, sales meeting, networking event, conference, sales presentation…
Here we go…
What do I want to achieve?
What can I say to open the discussion?
How should I stand/sit?
What kind of Voice Tonality should I use?
What can I do to encourage my client to be at ease and to talk freely?
I think my client’s preferred representational system is…
I think their personality in the context of selling is …
What information do I need to collect?
What level of detail do I need to get to?
What information do I need to impart?
How will I check for understanding (for me and the client)?
What can I do to ensure that the discussion flows smoothly from one topic to another?
What can I do to demonstrate respect?
What can I do to show that I am listening to/interested in what they have to say?
Which open questions would be good to begin with?
Which questions can I use to “funnel down”?
What can I say to close the discussion?
How can I ensure the client knows what is to happen next?
If I do all the above, will I achieve my outcome(s)?
What else could I do to improve on the above?
Concentrates the mind doesn’t it? Well that’s exactly what it’s designed to do!
These questions will help you focus on what you want out of any upcoming interaction. And when you know your outcome beforehand, your brain picks up the instructions and sets out to make it happen.
Build in some reflection time, if not straight away then as soon as you can. Ask yourself…
Was I clear on my direction and focus throughout?
How successful was I in opening the discussion?
Was the client at ease and able to talk freely?
Did I collect all the information needed?
Did I impart all the relevant information?
Did I collect information in sufficient detail?
Did I provide clear understandable information to the client?
Did the discussion flow smoothly from one topic to another, without awkward pauses?
Was I Courteous, tactful, etc?
How did I show I was listening?
Did I ask open-ended questions and expand where necessary?
Did I ask leading questions or answer my own questions?
Did I talk too much?
Did I listen?
How successful was I in closing the discussion?
Does the client know what is to happen next?
Did I achieve my outcome?
Just thinking about these elements AFTER your meeting/call with the customer will help you focus on what went well and how you will change things next time.
By the way, Gary Player is 80 years old now – and still ‘practices’ 1300 sit ups per day.
He’s not leaving his fitness to chance is he? Nor should you leave your sales success to chance.