When I think about major influences on my sales training, I think of Tom Hopkins. He was an outstanding salesman who become a gifted sales trainer, and I still receive and read his newsletters.

I was so impressed with his May 1 newsletter that I requested permission to reprint parts of it here. The Salesperson's Real Job

Let’s get to the heart of the issue. Many sales people think they are paid to give sales presentations. They mistakenly believe that the presentation is the single most important aspect of selling and as a result, they put all of their time and attention into giving it. They believe that with a little bit of small talk and one memorized way of presenting their product, they can build a sales career.
. . .
Unfortunately, few sales people understand that showing off what their products can do is not really selling. Presenting and then expecting the buyers to whip out their checkbooks, credit cards, or purchase orders has a name in the sales industry. It’s called “wait-and-see-selling.” Sales people who rely on that type of selling work harder and earn less money than those who are willing to invest time in developing their skills in the other steps of the selling process.

Wait-and-see-selling does not address the unique needs of each buyer. Instead, it leaves buyers feeling like they are hearing a stereotypical sales “pitch.”

The sales person throws the information at them. The buyers have to catch it and then sort it out to determine what’s relevant to them. It’s no wonder that so many buyers are resistant to sales efforts.

Those same unprepared sales people give the reins of the sale to the buyers by never asking questions; never getting to know the individual buyers’ needs, wants, fears, and desires. That’s counterproductive.

In selling, the person asking the questions controls — and leads — the sale.

If the buyers take the lead by asking questions, they could drag the topic all over the place. Sales people can easily lose control.
. . .
Your job is to present the right solution – not just to present a one-size-fits-all solution. Your custom solution will persuade your buyers that your product is the right answer for their particular wants, needs, and desires. It will provide your buyers with the information they need to make wise buying decisions.

For the buyers, the “main show” is the presentation. For the salesperson, the “main show” is the closing of the sale. Here’s what happens during the close:

1. You summarize their challenge
2. Review the benefits your solution provides, and
3. Ask the buyer to take immediate action

. . .
Sales people are paid to persuade buyers to take action.

The presentation provided the information in a persuasive manner that led buyers to the point of decision. The close includes those uncomfortable moments of uncertainty when buyers balance precariously between action and inaction. Part of your service to buyers is to guide them through those emotional and mental aspects of decision-making, leading them to a conclusion that makes sense for them and for your company.

Wishing you greatness,
Tom Hopkins
Tom Hopkins International Inc

In construction, all too often the sales presentation is focused on telling the price of the job to the potential client. That isn’t sales, it’s order taking. The important thing isn’t the price; that should be low on their priority list when it comes to choosing a contractor.

You need to be asking questions about the job, finding out the start date, finding out what the criteria will be for picking the contractor, and most important, getting the budget set. When you ask questions, you can present the right solution for your client, giving them the information they need to make a wise buying decision.

You do this by asking questions. Lots and lots of questions. It isn’t done with free design work, several estimates, or trying to impress potential clients with how much you know. It’s done by asking questions. We talk about this process in our book, Profitable Sales; A Contractor’s Guide.

May the profits be with you.

Related Articles:
Pay Salespeople Fairly: Commission Sales
Paying a Salesperson: Commission on Sales, not Profit
The Downside of Commission Sales
Penciling a Salesperson
Should Salespeople Have to Generate Leads?
Referral Fees and Sales Commissions

Michael Comments

Last week’s newsletter about collecting the final payment from dishonest clients generated a few private notes. One presented a point of view that we want to make sure you see:

“My ex-father in-law was a home builder and one of the biggest crooks in ____. He used to brag about trading names of contractors he ripped off with his crooked partners. They traded the contractors who wouldn’t fight to collect like baseball cards.

If this contractor walks away, I guarantee you he will be sought after and targeted by other dishonest clients. . . The contractor’s reputation for doing good work is just as important as a reputation for collecting monies due.

It’s not about standing up to bullies or about past stresses. Its business. Protect your reputation to collect and people will not be so willing to try to cheat you. It’s a small world especially with the internet. And if your client’s name comes up as being taken to court and losing, it will be very difficult for him to find new people to cheat.”

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