Business, especially sales and entrepreneurship, is a brass tacks world that requires having insights that are gained only by real-world experience. Some call this street smarts or tricks of the trade but these descriptions fall far short of what I’m talking about.
Much like winning a game of chess, succeeding in sales and business rarely comes from one brilliant masterstroke. Both winning at chess and succeeding in sales, business and life itself comes as the result of avoiding pitfalls and gaining an accumulation of small advantages. Advantages that include an understanding of the nuances of human behavior, subtle ways to motivate people and the many small but powerful secrets that successful leaders know.
Here are just a few examples of ideas that will help you succeed.
It’s not what you say; it’s how you say it!
Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.-Rudyard Kipling
Persuasive speakers communicate by using positive language. For example, instead of saying, “We can’t ship your order until next Tuesday,” say, “We can ship your order as early as next Tuesday.” What a difference! Put yourself in the listener’s shoes. Which version is more appealing? The habit of using positive speech has helped me to achieve more than I ever thought possible. You can practice this skill all the time, too. Practice makes perfect. Use it, not only with prospects, but with coworkers, family and friends as well.
Don’t ask what their budget is; tell them what it is.
I was looking to buy a used truck for my small ranch. I didn’t need anything fancy, just something functional for hauling firewood, fertilizer, and feed.
I drove past a used car lot and saw an old Ford truck which looked like a perfect candidate for the job. I stopped and was looking the truck over when a salesman approached. I asked him the price of the truck. He responded by asking, “How much do you want to pay?” Not wanting to play the salesman’s games, I thanked him and quickly left.
Similarly, one of the lamest questions I’m asked by vendors while inquiring about their service is, “What’s your budget for this?”
My response is always, “I won’t be able to formulate a budget until I know what your charges are.” I sometimes add, “How will knowing my budget help you determine your price?”
It is always better to tell potential clients their cost early on in a business conversation. This establishes your honesty. You’ll quickly learn whether it’s in their budget or not.
Let’s not do lunch.
You’ll get more done over a breakfast meeting than you will at lunch or dinner. The ideas discussed at a breakfast have a greater chance of being implemented that day rather than those discussed at the later lunch and even later dinner.
Lunches are the second choice, but since they occur midday, peoples’ energy and attention, to some degree, are winding down, especially after the meal is finished.
A business dinner is excellent if it is strictly a social event. It’s far more difficult to stick to an agenda at a business dinner because dinner is associated with end-of-the-day leisure, and alcohol is often consumed.
Gifts seduce both men and Gods. -Ovid
I was working with a broker who suddenly stopped returning my phone calls. We were working on a very sweet deal for my company, and I didn’t want to lose it. I left several voice messages and sent a number of e-mail messages. Nothing.
Determined to get her attention, I sent her an expensive little plush teddy bear with a note that read, “Don’t worry, I don’t bite. We just need to talk.”
A few days later, she called me. She was gushing, “Oh I just love it. What a sweet gift! Thank you, thank you, and thank you!”
She apologized profusely for not getting back with me and offered a laundry list of reasons why she hadn’t.
She promised me that she would go to work and get the deal closed. It was closed within a week. Thank you, Teddy.
Remember the one rule my father Norm always taught me, “if they like you Bruce, they will buy from you, if they don’t, you could be giving your product away for free and they won’t take it”
Take the time to get to know the people you do business with, really care about them because that is what at the end of the day we all want, someone to take care of us.
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