As published in Scotsman Guide's Residential Edition, December 2005.
Selling success does not require a lot of high-tech gadgetry. Snazzy spreadsheets, complicated flip charts or four-color brochures are not needed when meeting with prospective customers.
If you have these tools, by all means use them. But don't let them interfere with why you showed up in the first place -- and that is to ask the right questions.
One of the keys to being a sales superstar is being a diagnostician, a highly effective questioner. Effective diagnostic questioning takes time. It should occupy at least 70 percent of face-to-face sales time.
Effective questioning is designed to peel back the onion and get answers to basic questions like, "What are you trying to accomplish here? What are your overall objectives? What problems are you currently facing?"
Sales superstars use the gold-medal technique of letting prospects tell them what they most desire to gain or where their real pain is. The selling elite give up the need to present their products all the time, and they let prospects have the floor. Top sales achievers give prospects plenty of room to breathe before making any recommendation on what they might have to offer. In short, they are patient.
Because diagnostic questioning is at the heart of selling, several fundamental, distinctly low-tech tools are needed. The following five low-tech tools make the questioning phase more effective no matter what else you bring to the sales call.
1. Your appearance
No matter how fancy your brochure or personal desktop assistant, if you have an unprofessional appearance, you will not be taken seriously. If your clothes, hair or teeth are not well-kept, you have an obstacle to overcome. The initial purpose of any questioning is to get the prospect to open up to you, and good grooming is essential to that.
2. Your briefcase
Make a stylish, attractive briefcase your only accessory as you walk into the room for the first time when meeting with prospective clients. As with your appearance, you only get one chance for a first impression. You do not want to blow it by walking in juggling boxes or other items.
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