If you're hiring a salesperson, there's one thing you should be looking for: sales aptitude, which is clearly not something everyone possesses. That's according to John Asher, author of the recently released "Close Deals Faster: The 15 Shortcuts of the Asher Sales Method" and CEO of Asher Strategies, a high-level growth strategy consulting firm focused on improving sales for business-to-business companies. To determine sales aptitude, he has his client companies use an Advanced Personality Questionnaire (APQ), a web-enabled personality assessment tool Asher developed with Craft Metrics International, to identify how job candidates or employees measure in terms of nine personality traits, including:
- Need for Independence
- Need to Analyze
- Need to serve
According to Asher, the one personality trait you don't want to see in a potential salesperson is low intensity/drive, which is essentially someone's "fire in the belly" to achieve more immediate results. Less intense salespeople tend to spend more time educating and servicing buyers with less sense of urgency. While that may be OK in certain settings, if you really want to crush your sales numbers, you need people with high drive.
Once you've identified prospects or employees who have intensity and drive, these people need to understand that buyer decisions are made based on the Old Brain (a combination of the reptilian and emotional). Meaning, buyers buy on emotion and justify their decision with logic. In other words, salespeople need to offer quality and service with reasonable prices to appeal to a buyer's logic. But when buyers have to choose among multiple offers--all with solid logic--they decide based on emotion and the Old Brain.
Six stimuli wake up a buyer's decision-making emotional Old Brain:
- Me, me, me focused (The Old Brain only cares what your products can do for it.)
- Easy to grasp ideas (Keep it simple.)
- Beginning and ending (Always begin and end presentations with a bang.)
- Clear contrast (The Old Brain loves bright, shiny, stark differences.)
- Pictures versus words (Images are stored by the Old Brain for pattern matching.)
- Engagement/Excitement (Customer stories are the biggest emotion generator.)
Asher says the more salespeople use these stimuli to wake up the buyer's Old Brain, the better. Here are his words regarding several ways to do this throughout the sales process:
Before the First Meeting
Do research on the buyers to find out about them personally, especially their type of personality and preferences. You can do this both via the Internet and through people who know them and are willing to help you. These are known as coaches and insiders. Prepare your opening words and appearance to give a good first impression.
At the First Meeting
Employ techniques to match or mirror their personality type so the buyer feels comfortable. Smile, make solid eye contact and give them a firm handshake. Build rapport by getting the buyer to talk about what they want to talk about first. Ask permission to take notes and take notes. Summarize and repeat back to them to get agreement. Follow up appropriately and quickly.
At the Presentation Meeting
Make your presentation about them, not you. Start with your understanding of their needs. Then show your proposed solution. Reinforce with solid ROI examples and key discriminators. Start and end with a bang and put the majority of the details in back up. Give them a story they're yearning to hear.
At the Meeting Discussing Objections
Brainstorm responses to common objections prior to the meeting. Look forward to objections, as they start conversations leading to sales. Avoid being defensive or arguing. Acknowledge their concerns. Relate that other customers felt the same way. And then give specific examples of how those customers benefitted from employing your solution. Don't cave on price before showing data why your solution may cost more than your competitor's.
At the Meeting to Close the Deal
You can't close until the buyer is ready to buy. Most of them won't close themselves. Their conversation and body language give clues to when they've shifted to "yes." Their minds want a definitive closing proposal. Once you've made an offer, be silent and let the buyer think. And once they've agreed, quit talking about the deal or you may undo it.
At Subsequent Meetings
Pay attention to customers--don't treat them indifferently. Give them something extra. Find out and fix their problems fast (the faster you do this, the more they like and trust you). Ask them for feedback. Ask them for referrals. Turn them into insiders to help you get even more business.