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Intent: The #1 Factor to Increase Sales Results
|Sales Leadership - Developing Your Team|
|Written by Colleen Stanley|
How does a sales manager teach intent? It’s by far the most difficult sales knowledge for a sales manager to impart to their team.
What makes teaching intent so difficult? It's not a verbal skill and can't be practiced; it's inside the salesperson and begins with good character and good will.
A salesperson who enters a sales call with a sincere desire to understand the prospect's business and challenges will close more sales than the articulate, polished, lower-priced competitor.
Human beings are wired to sense dishonesty and lack of authenticity. Likewise, they can spot a person who is genuine and desires to do the right thing. Who would you rather do business with?
So how do you teach your sales team to approach every sales opportunity with the right intent? Here are three questions to ask that will help:
• Are you showing up at the prospect's office to sell or consult?
When a salesperson enters a selling situation with the mindset of closing the deal, something else happens. The prospect's mind closes because they recognize the questions asked are designed to elicit a "yes."
For example, a prospect is sharing their pain and problems with a salesperson. The salesperson hears "buying signals" and follows up with a leading, closing question:
"If we were able to improve this situation, would you want to?"
This is the dumbest question a salesperson can ask on a call. What's the prospect supposed to say? "No, I'd like to continue to have this problem, continue losing thousands of dollars and my best customers."
The salesperson whose intent is to consult and understand won't jump on buying signals.
A good sales consultant is relaxed and curious. They approach each sales meeting like an investigator on "CSI"; they want to know why it's a problem, how did it get to be a problem and what is the impact on the business. The sales consultant knows the more pieces of the puzzle they gather, the better solution they'll deliver.
• Are you seeking the truth or the answer your want?
It starts with the right intent and continues by refusing to engage in game playing, which often occurs on a sales call. Have you conducted a sales call with a prospect who's not engaged, holds their cards close to the chest or just doesn't seem to have any real pain? The truth is this prospect already has made the decision, believes in win-lose partnerships or confuses the action of meeting with a salesperson with actually doing something about the problem. (You know the type: If you talk about losing weight, it just might happen.)
If your intent is to seek the truth, you must speak the truth. And the truth sounds like this, "Mr. Prospect, I get the feeling that you:
(1) Have already chosen a company to partner with on this project." Or,
(2) "Are not comfortable sharing the information I need in order to make a recommendation." Or,
(3) "Have some issues. However, I'm not sure they are big enough to address at this time."
When you seek the truth, you become a big-game hunter and call the "sales elephant" in the room -- the one that's not getting any attention as it bellows and raises its long trunk.
When you speak the truth, the prospect will speak the truth and a real dialogue begins. While I can't guarantee a sale every time, I can guarantee you won't waste time on prospects not ready or qualified to do business with you.
• Are you there to impress or influence?
This was the question Willie Jolly, a motivational speaker, asked an audience filled with professional speakers and trainers. "You can dazzle the audience with your style and flair," Jolly said. "They will be impressed. However, they may not be influenced.
"The successful speaker connects with the audience, and something in their life changes because of your ability to influence. Which would you like to do? Impress or influence?"
We're given the same choice in sales. Too many times, salespeople show up at appointments with the goal of impressing the prospect. Product knowledge is recited, fancy PowerPoints presented and seven-syllable words are used throughout the conversation.
When a salesperson is worried about impressing, the focus in on them, not the client or prospect. It's not hard to figure out that prospects and clients don't do business with self-centered people.
Check your intent. Speak the truth. Choose to influence.
The prospect knows the difference. Do you?
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