The Bridges To Sales Success

Do you know the salesperson who’s the master of scaring up leads? Who could find a prospect during the dry season in the Gobi Desert?

How about the guy they call Golden Throat? Get him the sales call and he’ll make a good pitch to sell feathers to a goose.

And what about the salesman who just lives to close deals? He’s not long on getting leads or product knowledge, but boy can he hammer it when he smells a close!

Yes, I agree, that in some corporate selling environments, you don’t have to worry about cold calls, a smooth pitch, or infallible closing techniques.

Still, most salesmen I know resemble one of the above more than the others. And that’s a shame, because they’re losing sales. For, each of these three archetypes represents one of the bridges that transport potential clients from one stage (island, if you will) of the sales process to the next. And finally to the close.

The problem we encounter is that the professional sales executive has to be proficient at building all the bridges, not just one or two. Unless he or she can do that, the result will often be blown sales.

It is the rare pro who has the whole package. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible — or even difficult — to achieve. In fact, usually, simply gaining an awareness of the components and their workings is all that’s required.

So, let’s look at them one at a time and then see how they fit together in accomplishing our aims.

THE TERRAIN
If you examine the process as a whole, you will recognize the discrete stages of a successful sale:

a)  Unnoticed Product Existence — No market or potential leads yet.

b)  Awareness of Product — Your potential client or markets are aware of your product.

c) Thorough Knowledge of Product — Your prospect is fully informed about the advantages, benefits, potential profits connected with your product.

d) The Close — The prospect signs on the deal. He has graduated to become a client.

Each exists as a sort of resting place where the prospect can potentially become stalled and discard pursuit of the sale. It’s your job to create the bridges that bring him along to his final resting place: as another positive statistic on your sales ledger.

More important than the stages themselves, however, are the bridges between them. As we continue, we’ll explore exactly how to make and cross those bridges for the prospect so you can lock in the sale.

So you start with your product or service and no prospects to sell it to.

How do you get out of that lonesome state of non-existence?

THE GRABBER
We’re all very familiar with the obvious grabbers like: “INSIDER SECRETS REVEALED!” or “FINALLY, THERE’S A BETTER WAY TO . . .”  There are more subtle grabbers but they are all used for one simple purpose: to attract your attention, that’s all.

To have any sales at all, you must somehow first attract the attention of the prospect to you and your product.

Possibly the least understood aspect of selling, not to mention of marketing in general, is attention. Yet, it is of critical importance as the first bridge you build in the sales process.

So, let’s see if we can break it down to its simple basics as a starting point of agreement.

The dictionary describes the word “attention” as an observation with a view to action and the act of bringing something into clear awareness.

Awareness, then, is the operative word here.

The goal is to simply to create an awareness of your product or service.

If the public is unaware of your products or services, by definition, you simply don’t exist for them, whatever the real value of your product or service.

This first broad target then, is only one of “awareness creation.” How you carry out this is up to you, but it must occur.

First, get something out there. Then work to upgrade your promotion, and produce the highest quality message possible within your resources and marketing environment. However you do this, you must get them see that you exist and are able to attract their attention in some way.

Note that in our paradigm, no actual selling has yet transpired. Simply, an awareness has been created and you will not have gone unnoticed.

Intel Inside” is a perfect example for business. This slogan is placed where potential customers can see. The prospects now know about Intel; they know their product is viable (it’s already working inside this box). With their pithy, bold grabber, they have already bridged the first gap to attention.

This crucial step provides the foundation for future efforts, and must be firmly established by whatever effective means. The good news is that gaining attention is often the easiest bridge to construct.

But you’re still a far cry from selling or finally closing him or her. That’s what can happen sales if we don’t develop the interest we created with our attention grabber.

DEVELOPED INTEREST

Now it’s time to start to bridge the next gap. This is the beginning of what we commonly consider sales activity. Here is where you give your sales presentation, answer and ask questions, solve problems, convey your product’s benefits.

The dictionary defines “interest” as: a feeling of wanting to know, see, do, own, share in, or take part in; also, the arousal of such a feeling.

And then, from a business perspective: an advantage; benefit or profit; also, to make curious, or to engage the attention of.

Of key-note in the above is that interest is a feeling; an emotion.

Make sure to note this fact as this knowledge will come in handy later.

Regarding the business perspective: Anyone who has spent time actually selling for a living will recognize that if you can identify the prospect’s own purposes or interests, and show him a way to achieve them within his price range, you will have a sale.

It is axiomatic that value is determined by desire.

That is, the value you place on anything corresponds directly to how much you desire it.

Plainly, value, is a factor of how much it is wanted and desired. Further, the factors that determine the degree of desire (and therefore value) are the product’s advantages, benefits, and potential for profits.

If you have a way of attracting attention, you have the possibility of generating interest. Also, since interest is an emotion, you have also begun to lay the groundwork for the last, all-important bridge to the close.

When the prospect, towards the ends of accomplishing his own purposes, perceives your product or service as beneficial, he would tend to want to know more. And would be more inclined to go into action to own what you are selling.

Because you have done your job correctly, bridging from awareness of your product to developing the prospect’s interest further, you have given him all the knowledge he needs to make the purchase.

So why don’t we close more sales? Why are there always those deals that slip away at the last second, even after we’ve done everything right?

EMOTION
You think you have thoroughly engaged the customer in the process informing him of everything he needs to know about your service or product.

You’re certain he now has a thorough knowledge of what you are offering.  But why is it that all too often you here hear things like:

“I appreciated your coming here to give this presentation.”

“It’s apparent that you really know your material. You make a lot of sense.”

“Very impressive!” Followed by a quick departure.

This is because you haven’t built and led the prospect across the third and final bridge. You did not move the prospect to action. Specifically, the action of signing at the bottom of the contract.

What went wrong?

It is a natural law of selling that people buy emotionally, then justify it logically.

A classic sales mistake is to believe the reverse, i.e., motivate the prospect with logic. But it doesn’t work that way.

You’ve already thrown all the ingredients into the pot — the advantages, benefits, profit potential — so how come doesn’t turn to soup?

THE HEAT!
Because now you have to turn on the heat — the emotion. As the emotional temperature rises, the prospect will make his decision to buy. Then he will seize upon the logic and knowledge you’ve provided for him, and begin to rationalize the inevitable discomfort he is feeling from having to part with his money.

People act and react emotionally, in many unpredictable and peculiar ways, and any of these can affect their buying decisions. It is your job to think quickly on your feet so you can adapt to and harness these emotions to your advantage.

Emotion is the bridge between thinking about doing something and actually going into action.

This

is, in fact, the key factor in creating a decision to go into motion toward a close.

The car sales rep who says merely, “This is a special gas shock absorber/wishbone suspension system,” ends up with nothing.

While the one who says merely, “You’ll feel like king riding in this baby,” is more likely to get the sale.

Trust, help, confidence, certainty, conviction, benefits, advantages, price, profits, long-term relationships . . . these, and more, can be emotional issues, not purely analytical ones, if presented the right way.

The emotional bridge has to be established. You have to connect with them in some way that is harmonious with their concerns and purposes.

Top sales people not only have a superior knowledge of their product or service, they also have an extremely high degree of conviction that what they offer is also the best solution for the client to help them in meeting their goals.

They are emotional about it. They’re excited about helping the client. Their attitude is enthusiastic and free from doubt. It is unstoppable. It’s also very contagious!

Remember:

LOGIC MAKES PEOPLE THINK – EMOTION MAKES PEOPLE ACT!

The choice seems clear. Which would you prefer?

NO SALESMAN IS AN ISLAND
Remember the salesman archetypes presented at the outset of this article?

Each represents many, many people in the sales business. Each of them is an expert at bridging one of the three gaps in the sales process, but they invariably do not succeed as fully as they could and should because they are not adept at building all of the bridges.

The Dead-Eye Closer misses out on potential clients because he doesn’t promote his product to find the leads in the first place.

Old Golden Throat drops the ball when it’s time to touch the prospect with just the right emotional chord to make him sign.

The Tireless Cold Caller sheds perfectly good leads like a cat does fur because he doesn’t develop the interest he’s created with his attention grabber.

Sure, they all do get sales. That is because occasionally, by whatever means outside their influence, the bridges all get built anyway and enough momentum is established to close the sale. But for every one they get, a dozen slip away.

It doesn’t have to be that way. An awareness of the three bridges of sales and marketing, and then proper implementation of them, will keep most every sale on track and progressing steadily until it finally comes home for the close.

To underscore the point, from the dictionary I found the following:

Action is regarded as occupying some time and involving more than one step. The process of doing something. An act or thing done.

As covered earlier, this was after all, not only one of the components in our equation, but the stated goal of the whole activity. We wanted to capture their attention and move them into action, not just thinkingness.

No matter how expert your marketing activity, how practiced your sales presentation, how impressive your skills, how slick and glib your carefully learned closing techniques, all would come to naught unless you actually could get something done…and close the deal!

Properly handled, with your service or product aligned to their purposes, this last step is simple.

But skip one of the earlier points, neglect or ignore what they were really telling you, and it was like pulling teeth without an anesthetic. It is painful for you and for them. And the more you sought to force the issue at the close, the more they seemed to dig in and resist even harder. Not a pretty picture.

To recap, we have now established the first four pillars necessary to support our bridge. If you can master and apply each of these four discreet areas, you should increase your close ration exponentially.

* ATTENTION, which is essentially the creation of awareness.

* INTEREST, which is essentially the arousal of a curiosity, desire, or wanting to know more about.

* EMOTION, which is a stimulation of feeling in the individual, prompting a tendency toward motion of some kind.

ACTION, which is a “doingness;” a motion or process that leads toward the end result of accomplishment and having that which is desired.

They’ll want it. They’ll know it’s valuable.

And happily, they’ll willingly generate the energy necessary to get it.

daniel w. jacobs
©1998-2030, all rights reserved

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