Each month, Alan Sipe, a contributing editor for Professional Distributor magazine, writes a sales skill article targeted to the independent business people who own and operate the various branded tool trucks you see parked at automotive repair shops everywhere.
Grew up in a rural area outside a small steel town in Latrobe, Pa. For a small town, we had some pretty famous residents: The golfer, Arnold Palmer, and Fred Rodgers of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.”
We brewed Rolling Rock Beer. Latrobe is the preseason training camp home of the Pittsburgh Steelers. And most importantly, David Strickler, a 23-year old druggist apprentice at Tassell Pharmacy in Latrobe, invented the banana split ice cream treat in the summer of 1904.
As kids, we would watch Palmer practice his golf shots for hours on end, and even though he was the best golfer of his time, he practiced every day. Palmer was one of those people that when he talked to you, for that moment in time, you were the only person on earth. No distractions; just you. He made you feel special. Additionally, during his prime, Tiger Woods, probably the best golfer of all time, was known to play 18 holes in a tournament, and then practice for four or five hours into the evening to fine tune his game for the next day.
We would also go to Saint Vincent College to watch the Steelers training camp as they prepared for the season ahead. Again, here was, at that time, the best football team on earth, practicing the basics, over and over again. Heck, even my dad, who was a real-life Marcus Welby country doctor making house calls every day, took the time to study the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) each month.
The point of this bit of Latrobe history is that to be the best at whatever your chosen field is, in addition to the daily work routine, it requires continuous learning, practice, and perseverance.
So, how about you?
Selling is a profession that no matter how long you’ve been at it, and how successful you are, you could always do better — and better increases your revenue and paycheck.
I typed “selling skills books” into Google and got 175,000,000 hits in 1.4 seconds. I typed “selling skills videos” into Google and received a whopping 304,000,000 hits. There is no lack of sales skills training material available to you and much of it is free.
Invest some time and effort in your career, pick up a few new closing skills, learn and develop your social media presence, or just figure out how to make one extra profitable stop per day.
Remember though, unlike many types of skill training, sales skills learning is similar to putting money in your personal savings account — you will probably not use your new skill all the time. It will sit in your mind percolating until just the right selling situation comes up, and you bring it out it to make the sale.
Here’s some ideas:
- Boost buyer engagement by bringing your existing product presentations to life. Develop your presentation skills in a way to get your prospect involved from the very start. Asking specific questions about product applications usually works to perk their attention and interest in your product: “Do you find it annoying when your greasy hand slips when you’re turning a screwdriver?”, or “Does it cut into your productive time when you have to wait to use the company scope since you don’t have your own?”
- Learn the “puppy dog close.” Just like taking your kids to the animal shelter and saying, “Ok, we will not take the first puppy you see.” Yet, the fist puppy your kids play with is it, and off you go with your new dog. It’s the same with tools. If at all possible, allow a squeamish buyer the opportunity to keep and use that new tool for a week, and it’s a sale.
- A high percentage of the readers of Professional Distributor magazine carry one of the major brand’s logos on their trucks. All the major brands are deep into using a broad-based social media program. What I mean is that the weekly email I receive from the major brands is the same email thousands of others receive at the same time. This is good marketing, but you individually, have the opportunity to take it one financial step farther. Start your own simple weekly email to your customers. Show pictures of your customers standing by their new tool storage unit or using their new grinder. Mention something about you or your family to help bond your personal relationship, and adding something about a customer like a birth or wedding also adds a personal touch. End with a picture of something you are promoting or maybe even a used tool you have for sale. An hour a week invested will reap significant long-term results.
- Learn the “now or never” close. Normally, the promotional periods for the major mobile jobbers last four to six weeks. If it is getting near the end of a promotional period, and you have a buyer on the fence, a simple sentence like, “I know you’re still deciding on this new tool, and I’m not here to push you, but the promotion is over, and I don’t want you to be upset when the price goes back up. Should we go ahead a get this deal done?”
- Finally, set a personal goal to read at least one sales skills book every two months to keep up with the latest selling skills and increase your income.
Now, go sell something!