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Archive for the ‘Selling Skills’ Category

by Paula Jayne White, PhD

Mad MenI start with an admission: I am passionately, unapologetically in love with AMC’s workplace drama Mad Men. The period setting, the costumes, the gorgeous cast: I love it all.  And while much has been written about both the egregious antics of the Sterling Cooper crew and the dazzling ad campaigns, I also love how this show, week after week, incorporates timeless principles for effective selling—principles that demonstrate that you don’t need the good looks of Don Draper, or the charisma and power of Roger Sterling, to be a great seller.  Here are a few examples.

 

The principle: Clients buy from people they like.  Your pitch is secondary.  

The evidence: At a party, Don Draper escapes into the hotel bar, where he meets a gentleman who is similarly escaping a wedding.  The two have drinks and chat—but not about business.  The gentleman, whom we (and Don) later learn to be Conrad Hilton, tracks Don down and offers him the deal of a lifetime: an ad campaign with Hilton Hotels—no formal pitch, no long negotiation, no competitive bidding.  Hilton likes Don, and bases his decision solely on this fact.  This deal (like others) practically falls into Don’s lap—not because he is a brilliant pitchman but because people like him.  And it never hurts to have a multi-million deal fall into your lap.

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by Paula Jayne White, Ph.D.

 

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comic strip panel 3comic strip panel 4Bassist Wanted by Porter Mason

I recently called for an estimate on replacement windows.  When the rep arrived, he demanded water and that we sit down first.  Out came the pitch book—and 30 minutes later, there was no end in sight, even though I said I had enough information to buy.  When I finally suggested that he provide the estimate or leave, he stormed out in anger. 

Unfortunately, this experience  is surprisingly similar to many I’ve been through as a buyer of corporate services.  I started on the selling side;  now that I’ve been a buyer, the reasons clients do (or do not) buy are much less mysterious to me than they once seemed.  Here are a few lessons I learned from sales professionals who had a few things in common with that hapless window rep:

Lesson #1: Say My Name, Say My Name

My name is Paula Jayne.  In a meeting, I will introduce myself and hand you a business card with that name.  And yet I’ve been called Paula, Patty, Mary Jane, and (gasp!) even Molly.  As sellers, it’s easy to think of client organizations as similar—that’s what allows us to sell our services to multiple companies.  But individuals are unique and wish to be thought of as such.  Start off a meeting by calling me Molly, and I feel like you have no idea who I am and you don’t actually care to know.  What are the odds you’ll get my business if our meeting starts this way? 

Lesson #2:  Love, Love Me Do (You Know I Love You)

Sales is a lot like dating.  Before you come into a pitch, most buyers will research your company, exchange calls and emails with you, read your proposal—even call references.  By the time you meet with me, I am already convinced of your potential value.  If you want to impress me, don’t spend 2/3 of your presentation telling me what there is to love about you.  To win my heart forever, show your interest in me by doing just three things: 

1. Ask me questions.

2. Listen when I respond.

3. Respond to my questions. 

Simple, right? 

Lesson #3:  I Like It, I Love It (Now Stop!)

While some clients are poker faces, most will indicate how you’re doing during your presentation.  When I talk about implementation, or mention how we can broaden what you proposed into a larger deal, or say, “This solution is exactly what we need,” I am telling you I’m ready to buy. So what do most sales professionals do?  They keep on pitching, even if I all but have a check in my hand ready to sign.  Please, stop selling to me and ask for the business.  Molly will be sure to thank you for it.

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