Bob: An ancient Chinese proverb says, “Crisis and opportunity are the same thing.” Focus on the three selling fundamentals to outsell competition at all times; that’s what Huthwaite says: Prospecting, Face-to-Face Selling Skills and Practice, practice, practice with feedback (coaching). If you focus on these three basics, you will win more deals at better margins.
Raj: And what exactly do these skills mean, Bob? Can you explain in plain non jargonistic terms? (R’s mind: Why do all bosses give fundaes?? Grrr!!!)
B: Lemme try. Stop me if you think if I am going off the deep end, okay. I don’t want to be igging you with my ideas. Feel free to add your illuminations on our conversation, dude.
R: Sure, talking to you also improves my understanding of American slangs (Po da venna – loose translation = go away butter!)
B: Prospecting is a grind but very important. You always need auxiliaries in life and irrespective of how strong your sales future looks, always have a high number of prospects. Meet suspects and convert them to prospects. A popular model used is called PPPS (Provoke, Persuade, Propose and Short)
To illustrate with examples, the LeT bosses supposedly made fiery speeches to Kasab and co, thereby creating a compelling message. That’s Provoke for you!
The bombasts made those boys go ahead with bomb blasts. They moved their asses and joined the jihadi movement, right? That’s Persuade. Their messages Proposed an action and the militants bought the idea of participating in such an act. Thus Propose moves prospect to action and takes you closer to closing an opportunity. Of course, an easier example would be Proposing to a girl for various reasons 😉 Short is where the message is short and sweet like in the KISS principle. Attack those that attack your brothers, die and go to heaven.
R: Gotcha. How about positive examples, Bob? I get depressed whenever we think terrorism or Mumbai – I cannot be over it but you know what I mean.
B: Sure, will try. But think of it, the terror masterminds are super sales guys too!
R: Yeah, right.
B: To focus on mastering face-to-face selling skills, Huthwaite talks about SPIN.
Ask Situation Questions to set the context.
When you meet someone, you and he / she should know why you are meeting.
R: As an example, let’s say we were into condom sales. When we go outside the bar after a while, and find a young intoxicated, no wait … a corked or zozzled couple, as you’d say it, you could set the context to the guy for selling a strawberry flavored condom, right?
I say strawberry coz I saw the girl across the table order some cocktail with strawberry on top. I think they will leave the bar and head straight to one of their beds.
B: Absolutely. And I think the drink is called Strawberry Kiss. Now, stop ogling like that! Next, move to Problem Questions. Those would explore problems and uncover the customer’s implied needs. Any examples?
R: Let us say Charlie has a loud mouthed wife at home. The rambunctious wife plays loud music and always generates extraordinarily high decibel levels. Context is restoration of peace in Charlie’s life. Problem questions could lead to understanding of the fact that he respects quiet and there is enough sound pollution at home because of his wife.
B. Yes, so you identified an Implied Need that he loves quiet and Implication Questions would help the customer understand the severity of the need in a new way. How I wish we salesmen could be blunt and say something like, ok Charlie, now, do you want to divorce your wife or close down electricity to stop the music from playing on your million watt speakers, a$#@hole!!! Instead we would probably say something much more understanding
R: I don’t like the idea of being not genuine. Anyways, what next?
B: Need-payoff Questions to encourage solutions and describe the perks that the solution would bring.
R: Let’s say, we talk about use of an ear bud or suggest bringing a Marriage counselor to solve his problem. Ok, ear buds will help you keep away the noise but you cannot watch TV while she is talking. Maybe you can negotiate with your wife to play no music at least while you two are in bed because ear buds will prevent you from hearing her say, “Oh God, yes, Charlie, faster, faster etc!!” It would be an ugly sight too with ear buds hanging out from ears during fornication. Eeks!! (Making face as if about to vomit) A Marriage counselor might act as a neutral referee and help you live happily ever after! Yo, that’s the need, right? To live happily ever after!
B: You should be selling ear buds or condoms! Yeah, you got the hang of SPIN, now the final fundamental is about a lot of feedback based practice.
R: Since man is disastrous at self SWOT analysis, we must practice and get feedback from bosses. Every successful salesman has a great feedback (read funda) giving boss!
B: Ok, let’s enjoy our food. Next week is going to be tough. What else happening back home?
R: Nothing much Bob. Adidas has changed their brand to Adi-da-Bush in Tamil Nadu and their tagline is “No more beating round the Bush – Beat the Bush NOW”
Wondering what the SPIN questions would be to target customers of these shoes 😉