Hundreds of books have been written on the “road to the sale” and how to sell cars with techniques and wordtracks to move your prospect closer to the sale. A cottage industry of sales trainers and consultants has developed to teach and motivate sales teams in the fine art of closing. Never has so much been written on sales skills development as in the past few years of the digital revolution. So, let’s see if we can distill all this information down to its essence.
In the end, sales is a mindset. Your approach and attitude will determine how much success you can and will achieve in a sales role. So, what kind of a mindset is required to move you from ordinary to a true sales professional (remembering that a professional in any endeavour can repeat a desired result in most any situation). After about a decade in car sales and a lifetime studying sales and marketing, I am convinced that the following approaches (mindsets) make up the components needed to be successful in sales.
- Always assume the sale. If you do not believe you are going to make the sale today, you are already defeated. Not only must you be absolutely convinced in your own mind that the car is sold, you must transfer that confidence to the customer who is looking for someone with authority to follow. Your confidence is contagious! Based on watching hundreds of salespeople succeed and fail, I have noted that the rookie salesperson can often have great success (for a time) with limited skills because he expects to be successful and he is too new for any self doubt to creep into his mind. Alas, a few mis-steps can bring a sales streak to an end and the winning mindset can be torpedoed. The successful salesperson puts past “failures” out of his mind as he knows that a negative mindset can sabotage the current sale. It can help if you are a bit naive and invested fully in the prospect in front of you. If you are truly sold on the product and sold on your capabilities, the prospect will want to be sold as well.
- Create value for the customer by solving problems. Discovering the problem is the challenge as the prospect may have trouble articulating why their current solution is falling short. This is often because what we want is a much more powerful motivator than want we need. Once you identify the true problem and offer a solution, you often have another challenge. One of the key problems to solve is demonstrating to the customer in a compelling way that a decision to proceed is much less risky than deciding to delay or postpone. Every buying decision carries the risk that the decision to buy will be regretted later. Your job is to lay out why the decision to buy is the lowest risk alternative. Of course, one of the alternatives is not to buy which must be demonstrated to have a higher risk than proceeding with the purchase. Going well beyond just facilitating a transaction is the mark of a successful sales professional. If you cannot solve the customer’s problem, you are not going to be rewarded with the sale.
- People buy when they believe they will be better off. Once a prospect has convinced himself he will be better off by buying, he will pull the trigger. Getting prospects to this position requires skillful marketing. I use the term marketing here to emphasize that the prospect must “see” in his mind’s eye that better future awaiting him once he makes this purchase. The more skillfully you can paint this picture for him, the more likely the prospect will become a customer because the right decision has been so well framed that it is clear that he will be better off by agreeing to purchase (from you). In fact, marketing your solution skillfully sets the stage for your prospect to see no impediment to buying. In this ideal scenario, the customer is an active buyer and does not feel like he has been “sold”. The better the marketing, the less time needed for selling.
Keeping these three sales mindsets firmly embedded in every engagement with a potential customer will do more to put you at the top of the sales ladder than any novel technique or tricky wordtrack. Work daily on bringing these principles to life with every prospect and a lot of the other “noise” you hear from sales managers and colleagues will not get in the way of your ultimate success.