Welcome to our first posting of "Ask 8cr!" - a new section of our blog where we've created a forum to find out what kinds of issues and challenges people are having in the workplace. We'll then take these issues and apply a business book we feel offers a viable solution.
We sent a note out to a wide variety of people and the response has been great. The first challenge we'll address is sales related. Here's the note we received:
"My biggest challenge is getting my sales staff to be more effective -- some need better time management skills, some need to dig into the information more thoroughly to understand our competition in each deal so we know where we stand and what we need to do to earn the business, all need better closing skills." - Deanna
A thorough but common scenario - how can one close the sale after they've worked so hard to get it? Time management, competition analysis, and customer understanding and relationship skills all play a part. It's not an easy answer, and instead of looking for a quick fix, let's look to a classic: Zig Ziglar's Secrets of Closing the Sale
This 400+ page book covers everything, from psychology, attitude, technique, listening, overcoming objections, and using technology in the process. Through these points he identifies methods that every sales person can apply to close the sale, from being alert/observant, loving your job, getting the customer involved, breaking the cost down to what he refers to as "reduction to the ridiculous," and giving the customer a reason to buy. He states, "Any time you can give a prospect an excuse and a reason for buying, and make it easy for him or her to buy, the odds are great the sale is yours for the asking." Throughout the book, Ziglar offers many examples of how to create these "reasons" for the prospect. These are important - no one wants to feel like a sucker in hindsight. By giving customers good reasons to buy, they'll always feel good about what they purchased and why they did. Absorbing these stories is insightful, and easy to start practicing on your own.
As with many Ziglar books, he addresses the issue, but in a way that goes deeper than simply telling you how to get someone to buy something. Ziglar knows that there's got to be something in it beyond this for the sales person. Otherwise, the work will get old quick. As a salesperson, how can you internally work through fear, how can you realize what's in it for you (beyond money), and how can you push forward even when things are going well (instead of sitting back and relaxing)? Part business professional, part guru, Ziglar nails it with statements like "You can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want."
Anyone in sales has dealt with the issue of how to close more, and all sales managers have wondered how to help their sales people close more (maybe that's a polite way of putting it!). Zig Ziglar offers some great insight into the task at hand and beyond; a broad understanding to bring fulfillment to the sales rep, their manager, and importantly, the customer.
What's your challenge at work? Send it to me at jon (a) 800ceoread (dot) com and we'll address it in a future posting here.