We’ve all heard the saying, “If you continue to do what you’ve always done, you’ll continue to get what you’ve always gotten.” Although the origin of the adage has not been attributed to a single person, Mark Twain and Tony Robbins have been credited with versions for years. Regardless, the message rings true.
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Breaking any habit isn’t easy. Self-evaluating and committing to improvement takes effort. We’re talking consistent effort and execution, not just when you’re under the gun or spotlight. Whether it be in sports, diet, relationships or our chosen profession, if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right. If not, you know what you’ll get; average at best.
When was the last time you asked yourself the following questions after a sales meeting, phone call, negotiation, or any situation where you were looking for a win or forward action?
• Did I provide a statement of value, a WIIFM (what’s in it for me), or a compelling why-should- I-listen-to-you opening?
If the answer is yes, great. If not, take a step back and refresh your approach. Did you take the time to plan your call and truly define your objective and back-up objective? Or were you “winging it” when you walked into the meeting or dialed the phone? If your pre-call planning was complete, did you ensure your WIIFM passed the “so what” test? If your opening statement is blah, blah, blah, why should you gain access to the golden palace? What do you have to offer? Why should they listen?
This is not a guessing game. Make it easy for your clients to understand how they will benefit.
If your relationship with an account is already grounded in trust, you have much less of a battle in terms of gaining access, cross-selling or introducing value-based services and technologies. But you still must challenge yourself to bring new and improved ideas to the table. Stay relevant, and ensure your openings are inspiring, not tiring. If not, you will continue to get what you’ve been getting. Oh, you’ll have a win occasionally. But doesn’t winning regularly sound a whole lot better?
I hear frequently during coaching and sales training that, “If I could only just get my opening down, everything else would fall into place.” There is a tremendous amount of truth to that. Yet many of us in sales fall short of preparing the right approach.
• Did I discover a need or pain point that I can satisfy or heal? Did I stir enough emotion to elicit a response from the prospect?
Every dental practice experiences some need or pain. Be it productivity, profitability or perception (image), pain is alive and well. How many of your clients actually communicate that they are fully satisfied with their patient flow, new patient acquisition, or bottom line? If you don’t know, you should. Understanding the challenges your customers face enables you to address issues that allow pain to bubble up. What do you have in your bag of tricks that would help your practices to improve or accomplish something? When you are able to link what you have to offer to offsetting a client’s pain, you both win.
• Did I effectively influence with relevant benefits?
One of the biggest challenges we face as sales professionals is talking too much. Effective influence requires cutting to the chase. Be bright, be brief and be quiet (or be gone). Only communicate the benefits that are truly relevant and meet the customers’ specific pain points or needs. Easier said than done. If you miss the mark, you will see this on your customers’ faces. If they have additional questions or concerns, address them specifically, gain alignment and move on. Questions or concerns are not deal breakers, they merely show interest.
• Did I ask for the business?
At this point in the sales process, if you have delivered an effective opening and nailed the pain with relevant impact statements, the close is the next easy step. In many cases, the customer does the closing for you. Still, many sales people wait for the customer to ask. Often, a simple “How would you like to get started?” is enough. A little nudge goes a long way.
• Did I set myself up for success now and on future calls?
I will address this question in a future column, as it demands additional attention. However, ask yourself: How are you consistently setting yourself up for success on your next call?
The success of any effective sales professional lies in the ability to honestly answer these “Did I?” questions. Doing so, and taking subsequent actions where you may have fallen short, will greatly improve your selling skills and income. The choice is yours.