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The Green Sheet Online Edition

August 27, 2018 • Issue 18:08:02


Always be improving

Whether you win or lose a sale, there is always room for improvement. But how do you pinpoint how to do even better on your next call? One way is to ask yourself probing questions.

In Good SellingSM: The Basics, Paul H. Green suggested merchant level salespeople (MLSs) ask themselves five questions after each appointment, whether deals are won or lost:

  1. Did you talk less than a quarter of the time?
  2. Did you focus on results?
  3. Did you find out what the prospect wants from your type of service?
  4. Did you find out how the prospect could benefit from your service?
  5. Did you ask the most important question? Did you ask for the sale?

"No matter how your appointment ended, hit these points and you'll have a better grasp of the merchant's needs and how you can position your service to fill those needs next time," Green wrote.

Jeff Fortney expanded on this sage advice in "Perry Mason and the post mortem," The Green Sheet, Sept. 10, 2012, issue 12:09:01. "First and foremost, a post mortem is not an effort to assign blame or fault," he wrote. "It is not an effort to ridicule or to denigrate. It is not a tool to measure failure, and it should not be an emotional process. Rather it is an effort to identify areas of improvement, to track the effectiveness of different sales approaches, and to learn what should be repeated as well as what should be avoided."

Questions Fortney suggested for self-reflection included:

  • Did I first identify if the merchant was a good fit or if he or she needed my services?
  • Was there a point at which the tone changed? Did the merchant first seem interested but later backed off?
  • In hindsight, did I miss a closing opportunity or a pain point?
  • Was my approach the correct one for this merchant?

In certain cases it's not a matter of win or lose. Some merchants require long sales cycles that necessitate follow-up phone calls or visits. But how do you maintain momentum without being annoying? In an April 14, 2017, Sales Hacker blog post, John Barrows wrote, "It's a tough question and varies based on the situation, but there are a few things you can do to increase your chances of maintaining an open communication flow, and decrease the dreaded 'gone dark' scenario."

He offered the following five tips:

  1. Ask for guidance on the best way to follow up with them while adding value and not being annoying.
  2. Ask what their preferred form of communication is and if they will respond.
  3. Make sure you always end each conversation with a clearly defined next step.
  4. Summarize your conversations and get written confirmation.
  5. Always have a specific reason to contact your prospect. Never just call to touch base or check in.

So remember, whether it has been a good day or a bad day for your sales efforts, you can ask questions that will give you insights that will help prepare you to do an even better job on your next call. end of article

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