"Start with the end in mind," as Steven Covey of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People says. So let's start with booking the order and work towards where the selling process starts.

1. How Do You Get the Order?

Get all the powerful people - especially the most powerful person - to commit to your offering. This is the person with the ability to say yes and it happens. Don't be fooled by those who can say no. Anyone can get you eliminated.

a. If it is a business sale, there may be lots of people involved. The ultimate decision-maker is usually in the executive suite and listens to associates and subordinates.

b. If it is a consumer sale (car, house, personal item), determine who has the power - husband, wife? Children can be significant influencers. Emotional buys happen, but will be returned unless the power and influences are synchronized.

2. How Do You Get Powerful People To Commit?

Ask for the commitment. i.e.: "Since you're feeling good about what we've just discussed, can I have your commitment that you will support me/my company?

a. If s/he says "yes", you've won a vote - not the sale - unless it's the person with the power to say yes and it happens.

b. If s/he says "no", ask "How come?" i.e. "Seems like you have some concerns. Please explain."

3. How Do You Know What S/He Is Feeling?

Ask the magic question - "How do you feel about what I've just presented?"

a. If s/he feels good - that great - go for commitment. See 2 above.

b. If s/he doesn't feel good or shows signs of hesitation/objections, ask, "What's the issue?" See 2b above.

4. How Do You Know What To Present To Make Her/Him Feel Good?

Ask questions about what s/he wants/expects. "What would the perfect solution look like to you?" "What will it take to get your vote?" Stop talking and listen. Then base your presentation on what s/he has said.

a. Be sure the answer comes from this person. The biggest mistake is to ask others what someone else wants/expects.

b. If s/he doesn't say the things you think s/he should be concerned about, expose and entice, i.e. "Are you aware ..." "Others have used ... and found that..." Don't push. Sense if there is any interest only. Otherwise let it go.

5. How Do You Get To Ask Questions?

Make it a condition before you do any presentations (i.e. "I know you're expecting me to tell you about our stuff, but before I do, can I ask you a few questions about your wants and expectations so I don't bore you with information that is of no interest to you.")

a. Ask questions when alone with her/him. People reveal more one-on-one. Remember you have to appeal to this person to win his/her vote. It's not about the company or the other people.

b. If you give the presentation before the interview, you lose. They get to know all about you and you learn little. The rescue strategy, when you can't resist the urge to present, is to ask each person the magic, feeling question. See 3 above.

6. Who Are The People To Be Questioning?

All the people who touch or who are impacted by your product, especially those in high places, are the people you should interview. Win each of these people's votes. Ask to meet their boss so you can ask questions and win his/her vote. The powerful will make the final decision. Don't argue. It is what it is. Besides, what would happen if your competition gets to the bosses?

7. When Do You Start Going After All These Administrators, Decision People And
Senior Execs?

This is a lot of work.

Go after then after you qualify that this is a good company and a good opportunity for you to pursue. Use history to determine the types of companies/opportunities that have gone well for you and those that haven't. Seek only those that fit this profile. These are the plums and should close at a 70% rate if you do 1 through 6 above. Leave the rhubarbs for your competitors. They will die slowly while you use the time to find more plums.

8. How Do You Find Enough Prospects To Be Choosey?

Have a systematic prospecting program. Fortunately there are many levels and types of prospecting. Your easiest prospects are those who you currently do business with. Develop high level relationships, (How? Read my book - TAKE ME TO YOUR LEADER$), and you will get 100% of the business from 100% of your clients. Your toughest prospects are new accounts, cold calls, and greenfield prospects.

a. Prospect for those that fit your profile.

b. The more organized your approach, the better you changes of finding quality leads that are interested in doing something. Then do 7 through 1 above in that order only.

c. If you don't prospect enough, you won't have enough plums and you will gravitate to the rhubarbs.

See, selling is very systematic and can be easy. People make it tough by pushing products, going after everything, and trying to beat the competition. Best case these people close 30%. Do the above and you'll soon be closing 70% of the opportunities you choose to pursue.

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