Making the Sale: Key insights from three area experts

Growth is the goal in selling, whether you are selling cars, real estate or insurance.  Successful sales professionals typically generate new revenue by growing their client base and market share. Growth is a process that can be mastered.  But how can you develop a dynamic sales growth plan?

New York Times bestselling author Dr. John C. Maxwell wrote a book entitled The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth and listed intentionality as the first law. Being intentional about growing is a surefire way to be a top seller in any field.  Proper prior planning makes growth attainable and sustainable.

Benjamin Franklin, one of America’s founding fathers, is credited with saying “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

Consider six winning strategies below, gleaned through interviews with distinguished thought leaders and practitioners in the region.

Strategy #1: Be Prepared

Cecil Edge, a retired sales professional with 56 years of experience in the automotive and real estate sectors, believes preparation is the foundation for consistent success in selling.  “A salesperson should devote time to thinking and preparing for a sales interview,” said Mr. Edge.  

“Knowing as much about your prospect can make your call more meaningful and this requires research before you meet with him or her.  You can talk with people who have done business with your prospect or people who know him or her very well,” added Mr. Edge.

Cecil Edge co-founded one of the nation’s leading sales training companies and has trained hundreds of salespeople across the United States and Canada.

Strategy #2: Work Hard and Smart

“The best sales people work hard, make many calls, and conduct a lot of follow-up,” observed Dr. Barton A. Weitz, a retired marketing professor at the Warrington College of Business at the University of Florida.  Effort and ability are critical skills complementing a flexible and client-centered way of doing business.

According to Dr. Barton, “The top sales professionals alter their approach based on what the customer wants as adaptability is the key.  They have knowledge of customer needs and how they can be matched with the products and/or services they are selling.”

Dr. Barton taught marketing for over 30 years and has co-authored leading textbooks on retailing and selling.  He was the Founder and Executive Director of the David F. Miller Center for Retailing Education and Research at the University of Florida.

Strategy #3: Network Effectively

Nick Deas, ChFC, a Financial Insurance Advisor with McGriff-Williams who launched their Life, Disability & Long Term Car Insurance Department, sees building relationships as a solid strategy that could provide a competitive advantage.  

“Develop a network and be a resource to the community.  This sounds simple enough but takes time to do so,” noted Mr. Deas.

“Whether it is a one-on-one coffee meeting or a networking event, getting to know influential people in the community will build your network.  Don’t forget to “pay it forward” and offer to make introductions for them to others in the community.  This will become a value added feature of doing business with you that might set you apart from the competition,” added Mr. Deas.

Mr. Deas has been in the financial services sales arena for 16 years.  He graduated from the University of Florida with a finance degree and obtained the Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) designation from The American College.

Strategy #4: Master Your Product/Service

One of the best ways to lose a sale is to be unfamiliar with what is being sold.  Set yourself apart from the competition by knowing your product/service inside and out.  Being competent about what you are selling will produce the confidence you need to succeed time and time again.

“Top producers will first become experts in knowing the unique sales points of their product or service.  These sales points are the combination of the features and benefits being offered.  Second, they have prepared questions to ask their prospect to identify the sales points that appeal to them,” said Cecil Edge.

“The third – and maybe the most important step – is that they listen to the answers provided by the prospect.  This is the feedback the salesperson must know to stay on track.  Fourth, the salesperson picks the sales points that seem to appeal to the prospect, and this becomes the basis of the customized product/service demonstration,” added Mr. Edge.

Strategy #5: Follow-Up and Consistently Learn

A system for following up with prospects is an indispensable tool to becoming a top seller.  Multiple contacts with prospects through telephone calls, emails, text messages, social media platforms, or other methods may be needed before a sale is realized.

“It is important to have a system for following up with prospects as they might not be in the market for my services today, but will be in the next one to three years.  If you don’t follow up with them, someone else will when the time is right for him/her,” said Mr. Deas.

Learning on a continual basis is necessary for growing sales as change is constant.  “As an industry evolves, a top seller needs to continue learning and be aware of new product innovations that might be helpful to existing clients and future prospects,” opined Mr. Deas.

Strategy #6: Love Your Job

Passion comes from the heart and motivates top performers in sales positions.  Financial compensation is an appropriate reward for high performance but does not provide purpose.  The best “love what they do because it is interesting to them,” said Dr. Weitz. He also noted that top sellers “are intrinsically motivated by their job and not doing it just for money.”

By Kamal I. Latham

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