Guest blog: The three biggest challenges in sales: and how to overcome them

Sean McPheat is the undisputed king of sales, and founder of MTD Sales Training. He shares his expert tips on tackling the three greatest sales challenges small business owners face. You can get more advice from Sean and ask him questions this Friday at 1 pm in our sales surgery with him.

Problem #1: Cold calling

First off, learn to identify a gatekeeper (read how here). Try to sound like you're well known to the decision maker - and be polite.

Instead of saying: "Hi, it's Sean, could you put me through to James please?"

"Hi Jenny, it's Sean, could you let James know that I'm on the line, thanks"

By using 'thanks' at the end of the sentence it assumes you'll be put through and a lot of gatekeepers will assume that you know James and instead of giving you a grilling.

You need to spend a lot of time trying out different openings to your calls. Keep detailed records of the calls you make and answer-phone messages you leave: what you said, the response you get, how many returned calls you get. Then perfect your opening.

If your calling objective is to set an appointment then sell only the appointment! Don't go into the latest and greatest benefits of your products and services. Ok, so they don't want an appointment. You need to have a back-up objective in mind. Can you find out who their existing supplier is? The length of the contract? There's plenty of info you can find out!

Even if you close 10 out of 10 calls on the bounce please keep going and carry out your planned number of calls for that day. A 100% success rate is not sustainable!

Problem #2: Consultative selling

Doctors ask lots of questions before writing out a prescription - you need to use the same approach. In order of importance, your buyers will take action more on pain, fear, then pleasure. Focus on them, not winning the deal. Come from the mindset that you are there to help them and get what's best for them.

Beware if your buyers are not open to what you're asking, or if they're being difficult. They might have already made up their mind on who they are going with and are just using you for either further education and ideas, a comparison, or because company policy states they need to get quotes from three different vendors. Don't be afraid to walk away if it's not right.

And don't treat others as you'd like to be treated yourself. Yes, that's right! Instead, treat them as they would like to be treated! Selling is not a one size fits all approach. Some buyers will need facts and figures, others want a high level overview and the bottom line in a 'no fluff' way.

Problem #3: Handling objections

Faced with an objection? Always ask: "What do you mean by that?"

Prospect: "It's just too much money"
You: "What do you mean by that?"
Prospect: "I just haven't got enough money left over from wages this month to fund this piece of kit."
You: "What could you afford this month?"
Prospect: "About £100″
You: "And you could pay the remaining £60 next month?"
Prospect: "Oh yeah. No problem"
You: "Ok, let's do that then…"

You need to qualify what the objection really means. In this example, 'too much money' did not mean that the prospect could not afford it. Instead it meant 'I can't afford to completely pay for it this month'.

So many sales people just hear 'it's too big', 'it's too much', 'the time is not right' and then don't question what they mean by it. So many sales are lost with this approach.

So my ultra important lesson for you is this: ask 'what do you mean by…?'

It will get you a lot more sales!

Get more advice from Sean in our live sales surgery this Friday at 1pm.

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