This is what I am covering this month:
1. Attitudes of Successful Salespeople: The profession, setting your goals, attitudes of successful salespeople and getting and staying motivated. This is the basic overview of the profession of selling. Selling is a noble occupation, even though some people might think otherwise. In fact, we are all in sales. We are selling people every day. In addition, our attitude as well as getting and staying motivated are vitally important and will make or break a salesperson. We covered this at the beginning of the month.
2. Prospecting. Sales and success is a numbers game. I will covered the importance of and how to get in front of a large number of people to close a higher percentage of sales calls. I also showed you the importance of “knowing your stuff”—what you need to know about you, your prospect and your product. Then, we looked briefly at the importance of understanding how to sell to different personality types.
3. Building relationships that position you as an educator/consultant to your clients. In last week’s edition, I touched on listening skills and making the sale. We also looked at the all-important issue of relationships. Relationships are in selling, as in life, the most important factor. We don’t sell to companies, we sell to people! People always make the decisions. We looked at how to be a great listener and also discussed how to reposition yourself from being known as a salesperson to being seen as an educator and consultant who helps people make the best buying decisions.
4. Getting referrals/Negotiation skills. This week, I will take a look at how to get referrals so your business is ever-expanding. That is the key to a successful sales business—the ever-expanding network of people to draw sales from. I will also cover the basics of negotiation. This will have an emphasis on how to get both sides into a winning position so they can be happy with the sale. I will give you specific skills to get into win-win negotiations.
Win-Win Negotiation Skills
The word negotiating can automatically make some people feel uncomfortable. Often their perception is of two people, each trying to get the advantage over the other. In many instances this may be true. But if we are living according to the kinds of values and principles that we have talked about extensively related to giving and win-win relationships, then we want to find a better, higher way. And the good news is there is a better way!
Here are eight keys to creating win-win negotiation opportunities:
1. Accept negotiation as a part of life and business. When you are talking to your spouse about what to do on a Friday night, you are negotiating. She wants to go to dinner and a movie and you would like to go listen to some good jazz music. The negotiation begins. Perhaps your children want to get a puppy and you don’t think it is a good idea. They will push for negotiation. Maybe the neighborhood decides to have a garage sale. Where will it be? When will it happen? You have strong opinions—and so does your next door neighbor. There will be negotiations. You see, we negotiate often in our lives. Anytime there are two parties there will be two different opinions on what should be done, and there will be a need for negotiations. It is true in life and it is true in business. We should accept that fact.
2. We must approach the other party with an attitude that desires that they also win. It is a given that we will look to win ourselves. That is human nature, to cover ourselves and make sure that we get what we need. It is not human nature, however, to look out for the other guy. So, if we want to develop long-term relationships that prove to be mutually satisfying, we should approach the situation with an attitude that desires to see the other side come out as a winner too.
3. Be willing to listen. When negotiating, perhaps the most important skill is listening. Decide beforehand that you are going to listen intently to what the other side has to say. Perhaps you can write down some questions you would like answered and bring them to the meeting and then write the answers down as you hear them. The key should be to make sure you hear the other person. What do they want? How do they think? What do they feel? What are their goals? These are things you can listen for that will enable you to come back with a way to help them achieve what they want while positioning yourself to win as well.
4. Be clear and concise in your desires. Often, people talk too much. What is it you want? What are the boundaries outside of which you will not negotiate? Know what they are and be able to clearly and concisely communicate them. Start with the most targeted version of what you would like and state it. Then as you go back and forth, work from there, as long as you stay within the boundaries of what is acceptable for you. The key is to communicate in such a way that the other person can state what your needs are in a brief way.
5. Keep emotions out of the dealings, if at all possible. Many times the downside to negotiating is that people get emotional. If you offer something too low they may feel offended, as though you don’t appreciate them as a person or appreciate their product or services. There are many reasons you may have presented a low offer, none of which have to do with what you think of them as a person! Sometimes, you may be the person who allows emotions to creep in. The key here is to continually remind yourself to see the facts clearly, and nothing else. What are the facts? If you are expecting $10,000 and they offer you $5,000, don’t get mad. Just look at the facts. Know what number you need to make it work. Don’t make emotional assumptions about the other person or their motives or intentions. Work on the facts. Your next step should be to negotiate that number, not to discuss how offended you are!
6. Make sure each side understands the other. A couple of good statements to make from time to time are these:
“Let me see if I understand you correctly. What you would like is…” (to make sure you understand them).
“So, based on what I have told you so far, do you mind repeating back your understanding of what I’ve said?” (to make sure they understand you).
The idea is to make sure that you are hearing what they want you to hear and vice-versa. Just because you say something doesn’t mean they hear it! The only way to make sure this happens is to clarify, clarify, clarify… until you both know that you understand the other. Only then can you make satisfying agreements.
7. Focus on solutions. The key to having good negotiations is to focus on solutions, not problems. What are the solutions to each of the issues? They need it at a certain price and in a certain time frame. You need a certain profit margin. The agreement will come when you negotiate a situation that solves each of your needs. So, keep coming back to this question: What is the solution to this?
8. Cultivate this negotiation so that the end result is a platform for a future business relationship. When all is said and done you do not want this to be a one-time deal. The most successful businesspeople do multiple deals with repeat customers that produce ongoing and increasing profits and solutions for each party. This means that as you negotiate, you should do so in a manner that keeps the ongoing relationship intact, so you can continue business. For example, would you rather negotiate too hard and get a one-time $2,500 profit or negotiate a win-win solution, give up a little, and come away with a relationship that will produce a monthly profit of $1,500? That ongoing profit adds up, doesn’t it?
Win-win relationships are possible, even in relationships where you have regular opportunities to negotiate. The key is to focus on the principles and philosophy that govern your actions and will in turn produce mutual satisfaction.
Until next week, let’s do something remarkable!
Let’s talk more about building a referral base. We touched on this last month a bit, but this is such an important part of any successful business that we want to cover it again with you this week.
There are two primary ways of getting referred.
The first is to ask a person to refer you to someone else. This is where you ask for a name and they give you one and you then follow up with a phone call and mention the referring person.
The second is to have someone refer you to someone else without your knowledge. Then that person calls you seeking a discussion about potential business. For example, Bob tells Joe that he needs to buy some more life insurance. Joe then tells Bob that you are a great insurance salesman and gives him your number. Bob then follows up with you. This is the most powerful way to get referrals.
Let’s talk about the key elements to each kind, because each kind is important in developing our networks.
Here are a few pointers for asking others to give us the names of referrals:
1. Ask. That’s right, ask. Many times we let referrals fall through the cracks because, for one reason or another, we decide not to ask. Remember the old saying that “If you ask, you shall receive!”
2. Be specific. Bob Burg teaches that we should not just say, “Do you know anybody who needs life insurance?” That is way too broad! Bob says you really should give them a place to start. The better alternative is to say, “Do you think any of your Friday afternoon golf partners might be in the market for insurance?”
3. Be good to the person you are asking for the referral from. Why? Because they will rightly assume that you will treat the referral the same way. If you are too “hardball,” they may tolerate you themselves, but never refer you to a friend or family member.
4. Tell them exactly what your process will include and then do it. One thing you need to do is calm the fears of the person. They want to make sure that you aren’t going to call their friend 50 times. They want to make sure you won’t put them on some e-mail spam list. Let them know exactly what you are going to do.
5. Follow up with them to thank them for the referral and let them know how the referral worked. This will give them the information and feedback they need to know in order to make their future referrals better suited for you. (You want them to continually make referrals for you!)
Here are some pointers for having others refer us, even when we aren’t there:
1. Let people know what you do and that you would like their referrals. Do people know what you do? Everybody you know should be aware of what you do. This is the first step in getting your name plugged into their brain so they can refer you. Secondly, be sure to let them know that you rely on referrals to increase your business. The first step plugs you into their brain, while the second step programs them to think about you when they hear that someone is looking for someone like you.
2. Be likable. That’s right—people will only refer likable people. Do they like you? If so, they will refer you. If not, they won’t. Sorry, that’s the way life works—no way around it. What is “likable?” Friendly, helpful, having a positive attitude and being generous are great places to start.
3. Be good at what you do. If you are good at what you do, it will go a long way. If you are excellent at what you do, you are probably a lock for referrals.
4. Treat the referral well when they call you. Take care of them. Do them right. They will surely tell the person who referred them how well they were treated. That will determine whether or not that person refers you again.
5. Say “thank you.” If someone refers someone else to you, be sure to say “thank you” to that person. And make the thanks regardless of whether or not the referral does business with you. At least send a card that says you appreciate the referral. If the referral does do business with you, be sure to make the thank you commensurate to the value of the referral. If the person buys $50 worth of goods from you, send the referrer a gift certificate for a free coffee latte. If they buy $10,000,000 worth of goods from you, send the referrer and their spouse on a week’s vacation to Jamaica!
These are the basics of the referral game, but if you master the basics, you will go far! Memorize them, apply them and stick to them. If you do, you will see your network grow like you have never seen before!
And in all things, obey the golden rule: Do to others what you would want them to do to you.