On Tuesday morning I had the opportunity and the pleasure to be one of the guest panelists at the latest edition of Event Huddle.
The subject under discussion was “How to secure event sponsorship for your brand.” We ran for a whole hour without pause.
Sales skills that never go out of date
The subject of the meeting was not of course directly connected with exhibiting. However, the discussion reminded me that sales skills and more specifically sales organisational skills never go out of date.
Most of the people in the audience were many years younger than me (sobering). However, the concerns they raised were pretty much the same I faced at their age too.
And although delegates were attending to learn how they could generate sponsorship revenue for their events, much of what was covered can be applied to any sales situation.
With that in mind, here is a quick recap of some of the sales basics that came up.
1. The importance of persistence
Too many salespeople give-up way too soon. They get rebuffed and don’t go back to their prospective clients.
That way of working will cost you sales.
To turn this around you need belief.
You need the belief that the companies on your prospect list are there because they will benefit from what your business offers. Knowing and believing this will help make you more persistent if you find yourself thinking about giving up.
Instead of giving up, find a way to be more creative in presenting your case.
Find a way to get your business noticed in a way that will resonate with your prospective client.
That last point is so important. When you make your pitch about them in a way that shows you understand what they want to achieve, then your persistence is much more likely to pay off.
2. You need to believe in what you are selling
One of the ingredients you’ll find in successful salespeople is conviction.
If you don’t believe in your product, if you don’t know it inside out, you won’t be able to sell to other businesses with conviction.
When that happens, what you offer is just one more product, service or supplier in the universe of would-be buyers.
On the other hand, when you know what your product or service can do for someone else, you approach things differently.
You won’t feel scared about picking up the phone or meeting face to face with people who are right for what you offer.
Conviction removes those powerful blocks in your mindset.
3. Qualifying skills: Including… knowing the budgeting and buying periods of your prospect
Sponsorship sales are a big ticket item.
For that reason, you need to know from your first conversation if your event falls within the client’s budget period.
If it doesn’t you are going to have a mighty hard job in making a sale.
This seeking of basic buying information (qualifying) applies to pretty much any large deal that you might be hoping to land.
On top of that, qualifying skills can save you heaps of valuable time.
Qualifying includes finding out if your would-be client has ever purchased the type of product or service that you sell.
If they haven’t, your time will usually be better spent elsewhere. It’s much easier to sell to a business that already buys what you offer.
If they do buy you need to know if their budget for the current year has been fixed.
Where a budget has set and approved it’s vital to know if there is any mechanism in place that allows for late additions. Obviously, you need to move fast if you find that late additions can be added.
Being “in the budget” is one thing. Knowing when purchasing will actually take place is another as this can have an impact on your financial year and on your production process.
4. Always be closing
In any sale, there is a process that has to be gone through in order to move from initial contact to a sale being signed.
The steps that you have to go through make up the sales process line.
Salespeople who are always closing are effectively trying to shorten that process line. Or, to take huge chunks out of it.
What I was surprised at in our talk was how few of the people in the audience took this closing approach to their work.
Perhaps this stems from a feeling that it is in some way impolite or being too pushy to try to close early on in a sales conversation.
It’s neither of those if you approach things in the right way.
Ask solid closing questions
Solid questions are those that move you closer to a sale. They are often qualifying questions too.
A basic one would be “is this the sort of product or service that your company is likely to buy.”
Another would be “has your company ever purchased a product (or service) like ours?”
Get a “yes” answer to either of those questions and you can then ask “Can we quote you for our product.”
You’ll then get a yes or no answer. Sometimes a maybe, but you will get an answer.
The answers you want are those that lead you into an opportunity to close.
Asking to quote is a close. Requesting a sales appointment is a close. Asking for a trial or test order is a close.
It doesn’t always mean tying-up an order then and there. Although it can.
Closing questions can also kill a sale stone dead.
That’s because it never existed in the first place.
With excellent qualifying questions, you find that the chances of a sale occurring are zero.
The reasons why that is can be varied. Whatever those reasons it’s way better to know sooner rather than later.
You’ll save a lot of time that might have been wasted in chasing a sale that was never going to happen.
Sadly, many salespeople who don’t know how to close have a false sense of reality.
They are the ones telling their bosses that they have “lots of people on the go” when really there are very few actual deals on their horizon.
Don’t make the same mistake.
To your sales success!