In order to close sales in today’s economy, sales people must be different from the rest of the pack. By being authentic and aiming to understand your prospects, you come off as unique from the majority of sales people out there. Think of yourself as a doctor, rather than a sales person.

How to Close the Sale in the New Information Economy

In today’s technology-driven world, information is cheap. The internet has changed everything for prospects. No longer do they need the big sales pitch explaining all of the features and benefits of a product. There’s a website for that—and probably many of them. Prospects are savvier than ever now that they’re armed with so much information. They are also more guarded because of the way sales people have been portrayed over the past fifty years in the media. Finally, prospects are also busier than ever in history—the average corporate employee has well over a full week of work piled up on her desk right now. Times are different in the twenty-first century—sales people and business owners must adapt or die.

A sales person’s job now entails helping prospects identify whether they’re the right fit for a particular product or service. Most importantly, the ability to close a sale in today’s economy depends more on one’s mindset than his specific closing technique.

Bill was the sales manager at a mid-sized construction firm that struggled with sales despite having an intelligent and charming sales team. The team had been trained by an old-school sales trainer to smile a lot, turn on the charm and give rehearsed pitches based on some preliminary probing questions. The result was that they were simply not closing deals—and the deals they did close were won through very competitive pricing.

Bill didn’t understand what the problem was. His sales people would often get positive feedback from prospects about how they were treated, and people always mentioned how his sales team had “the gift of gab.”

By giving rehearsed sales pitches based on little information, being insincerely smiley and friendly, and trying to persuade prospects rather than understand them, Bill’s sales people were acting like all of the other sales people the prospects had ever met.

It’s not that this stuff is inherently wrong; it’s just extremely common. When the sales people were perceived as being like every other sales person out there, they instantly appeared lower value to their prospects.

The New Mindset

In order to close sales in today’s economy, sales people must be different from the rest of the pack. By being authentic and aiming to understand your prospects, you come off as unique from the majority of sales people out there. Think of yourself as a doctor, rather than a sales person.

When you go to the doctor with a problem in your elbow, the doctor doesn’t say, “Well, I have a solution for YOU! You are simply going to LOVE this fantastic arthroscopic surgery that we can offer. It is so great!”

That would be ridiculous and insincere, but that is what most sales people are doing right now.

A good doctor asks you where it hurts, what it feels like, and what you’ve been doing that might have caused the pain. Mirror the doctor-patient dynamic in your selling life. Replace all of that enthusiasm with a genuine desire to understand where prospects hurt and determine whether you can help them.

People open up to those that they perceive as a real person who understands them. A connection with a prospect is ultimately created when they feel that you seek to understand their situation.

That is why sales people must change their goal when with prospects. The entire focus of sales meetings must be on the prospect and his situation. This is achieved when you ask questions that begin to dig into where the prospect hurts in regards to his current situation.

For example, rather than begin a sales meeting by talking about the benefits of your product, begin with one of these questions:

1. “Tell me about your challenges with regards to…[your category of service or product].”
2. “Give me an example of that challenge.”
3. “Tell me a little more about [prospects challenge].”

It goes back to that doctor’s mindset. A good doctor will thoroughly examine a patient before telling the patient if there is a solution. Only a quack doctor will offer a solution without identifying the real problem. Sales people must have this same mindset with their prospects. Realistically, about fifty percent of your prospects will not be a good fit for buying from you. This could be for a wide range of reasons—from they don’t need your stuff to they don’t have any money.

Whatever the reason, it is your job to discover as quickly as possible whether they are or are not a fit for you and your company’s product or service by using your doctor’s mindset.

As life has become more complicated, many sales people have sought more complicated solutions to their selling problems. However, the solution is not complicated. In fact, it is as simple as a small shift in mindset.

Vince Lombardi once said, “Some people try to find things in this game that don’t exist but football is only two things—blocking and tackling.”

The same is true for selling. By changing your mindset to think more like a doctor, rather than like the traditional sales person, you immediately move into an elite group of sales people who stand out from the pack. This is the difference required to close the sale in the new economy.

About the author

Marc Wayshak

Marc Wayshak is the author of two books on sales and leadership, Game Plan…

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