The 10 Immutable Laws of Sales Success

By Len Foley

Law #1: Keep your mouth shut and your ears open. This is important for the first few minutes of any sales interaction:

  • Don’t talk about yourself.
  • Don’t talk about your products.
  • Don’t talk about your services.
  • And above all, don’t recite your sales pitch!

Obviously, you want to introduce yourself. You want to tell your prospect your name and the purpose of the visit (or phone call), but what you don’t want to do is ramble on about your product or service. After all, at this point, what could you possibly talk about? You have no idea if what you’re offering is of any use to your prospect.

Law #2: Sell with questions, not answers. Remember this: Nobody cares how great you are until they understand how great you think they are. Forget about trying to “sell” your product or service and focus instead on why your prospect wants to buy. To do this, you need to get fascinated with your prospect; you need to ask questions (lots of questions) with no hidden agenda or ulterior motives.

Many years ago I was selling CD’s at a music festival. It didn’t take me long to figure out that it wasn’t my job to sell the CD’s, it was my job to get the earphones on every person that walked by my booth! I noticed right away whenever people sensed I was attempting to “sell” them a CD, their walls of defense immediately popped up and they did everything in their power to get as far away from me as they could. So instead, I made my job about introducing new music to anyone who wanted to put on the earphones. Once they heard the music, either they liked it or they didn’t. I didn’t do any “selling” and made more money that week than any other CD hawkers at the festival.

Back then I didn’t know anything about sales but I knew enough about human nature to understand that sales resistance is an oxymoron; the act of selling creates the resistance! Which leads us to the next principle.

Law #3: Pretend you’re on a first date with your prospect. I’m sure you’ve experienced it a hundred times. You walk into a store and the clerk says, “May I help you?” and how did you respond? “No thanks, just looking.” It’s as if the response were genetically embedded into your DNA. It’s a survival response. Like blocking your face when you see a Frisbee hurling towards your head. When you learn what you’re really selling and stop trying to convince or persuade your customers into doing something they may or may not want to do, you’ll see your customers trusting you as a valued advisor and wanting to do more business with you as a result.

And how do you do this? Get curious about your prospects. Ask about the other products or services they’re already using. Are they happy? Is it too expensive, not reliable enough? Find out what they really want. If not from you, then perhaps from someone you could recommend. But remember, you’re not conducting an impersonal survey here; in other words, don’t ask questions for the sake of asking them; ask instead, things that you’re curious about.

Law #4: Speak to your prospect as you speak to your family or friends. There is never any time that you should switch into the “sales mode” with ham-handed persuasion clichés and tag lines.

Affected speech patterns, exaggerated tones, and slow, hypnotic sounding “sales inductions” are never acceptable in today’s professional selling environments. Speak normally, (and of course, appropriately) like you would when you’re around your friends and loved ones.

Law #5: Pay close attention to what your prospect isn’t saying. Is your prospect rushed? Does he or she seem agitated or upset? If so, ask, “Is this a good time to talk? If it’s not, perhaps we can meet another day.” Most sales people are so concerned with what they’re going to say next that they forget that there’s another human being involved in the conversation.

Law #6: If you’re asked a question, answer it briefly and then move on. Remember, this isn’t about you; it’s about whether you’re right for them.

Law #7: Only after you’ve correctly assessed their needs, do you mention anything about what you’re offering.

Correctly assessing the needs of your prospect means you’ve gotten over to their side of the world. I knew a guy who pitched a mannequin (I’m not kidding)! He was so stuck in his own automated, habitual mode that he never bothered to notice that his prospect wasn’t breathing. Don’t get caught in this trap. Know whom you’re speaking with before figuring out what it is you want to say.

Law #8: Refrain from delivering the three-hour product seminar. Don’t ramble on and on about things that have no bearing on anything your prospect has said. Pick a handful of things you think could help with your prospect’s particular situation and tell him about it. If possible, reiterate the benefits in the prospects own words, not yours.

Law #9: Ask the prospect if there are any barriers to them taking the next logical step. After having gone through the first eight steps, you should have a good understanding of your prospects needs in relation to your product or service. Knowing this, and having established a mutual feeling of trust and rapport, you are now ready to bridge the gap between your prospect’s needs and what it is you’re offering. You’re now ready for the final law.

Law #10: Invite your prospect to take some kind of action. This principle obliterates the need for any “closing techniques” because the ball is placed on the prospect’s court. A “sales close” keeps the ball in your court and all the focus on you: the salesperson. You don’t want the focus on you. You don’t want the prospect to be reminded that he or she is dealing with a “salesperson.” Remember you’re not a “salesperson,” you’re a human being offering a particular product or service.

[From Connection MagazineMarch 2004]

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