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Use Your Instincts, Not Your Head to Make Sales

Having the knowledge in your head to make a sale is not worth much unless you also put in the time to make these sales skills part of who you are. You must convert sales knowledge into sales instincts in order to achieve success.

Many sales people think that if they learn enough about sales or about their particular product or service, they will be succesful.  In other words, they just need to use their head.  Sales are not made by using your head.  Sales are made emotionally and through gut instinct.

This is a very important idea and one that demands your attention, because it is probably costing you sales.  The truth is that most sales people spend far too little time selling and it is only the time you spend in front of a prospect that can develop your “gut” or your instinct about sales.  Sales people lose a sale and think, “I need to stop selling and learn some more!” … WRONG!!!

If you want to know my personal secret to sales success, I can give it to you in 3 easy steps:

#1 – Read a sales book or watch a training program.  (I like Brian Tracy and Tom Hopkins myself)

#2 – Talk to 100 prospects and apply what I learned intentionally.  This step is embaracing and awkward since this new technique is not an instinct but a forced action and I don’t normally make many sales as a result of the change.

#3 – Stop worrying about the specific technique because it is now part of the way I sell and I no longer need to think about it.  I just instinctively use this to my benefit after forcing myself to use it on 100 prospects and my sales style will now become more natural and less forced.

The point I want to make is that having the knowledge is not even half he battle.  You can learn a new technique, but learning the technique in your head isn’t worth much without spending hours and hours in the field using that technique until it becomes second nature.

When I walk into a business, I don’t think about making eye contact, I don’t think about holding my hand out with my palm slightly up or talking slowly and pronouncing each word carefully.  I don’t think about having a smile on my face.  I don’t think about using open ended questions throughout the first few minutes of my conversation and I don’t think about how I will respond to particular objections.  I don’t think about using tie downs like, “aren’t you” “wouldn’t it” don’t you”, etc. at the end of statements I am making to build up to a closing question.  When I ask for sensative information, I don’t have to remind myself to look down at my planner after I slide the paperwork to them.  However, all of these techniques that are now part of my sales instincts, are a result of time spent reading about and learning them, but more importantly they took hours of practice in the field to internalize.

These days, when I get out in the field, I am trying to use 4 or 5 new closing questions I learned recently from Brian Tracy.  They don’t work very well for me yet because I have probably only tried them 20 or 30 times.  I know that once I say each question to 100 people, they will work like magic and I will not even neeed to think about using them anymore my instincts will kick in and I will say them at the right time.

I would like you to take a few things away from this blog article today:

#1 – Don’t get stuck in training paralysis.  If you have an opening pitch and a very basic understanding of your product or service, you should be spending at least 4+ hours per day prospecting for new business.  Keep reading and learning but make sure you are applying that knowledge.

#2 – Lower your expectation when selling a new service or product or when trying a new technique.  If you just joined our team and are selling merchant services, expect your first 100 prospecting visits to be a bit awkward and your first 10 to be a complete flop.  In other words, if you have no instincts in a particular area yet, don’t expect to be an expert at selling it and don’t get discouraged when the pitch “doesn’t work” the first 20 or 30 times you do it.

#3 – For those of you working on upselling and adding on services, I have a specific peice of advice that might surprise you.  Some of you have 30, 50 or even 100+ existing merchant services accounts and you are looking to sell them web design or POS Systems.  This is a great ambition!  However, keep in mind that you have no instincts or “gut” in this area yet.

I advise that you do two things to get the instincts you need to add on these services.  First, of course you can go to your most loyal clients which make up probably 10% of your base.  They would buy anything from you that had a decent value proposition and they will help you figure out the process of setting them up, paperwork, etc. Be honest and explain this is new to you and if they really trust you this will be a very valuable learning experience.

After this, spend 6 hours on the phone calling non-clients or basically cold calling in your market for each of these services and set up leads for yourself.  This is probably the fastest way to familiarize yourself with the objections and start to develop the sales instincts you need.  This is also the fastest way to push past the awkwardness of not knowing how you will respond or what you will hear.  Once you have done this and followed up on the leads with a couple sales under your belt, now you can go back to the other 90% of your client base and upsell them with the instincts you need to make these easy sales.

I hope this article will encourage you to practice your craft.  Don’t just learn about sales in your head, practice sales until the techniques that create success are part of who you are.  Use your gut instincts to make the sales process a lot easier but remember that in order to this, you need to push past the first 100 prospects and accept the inevitable awkwardness that comes from improving your skill set.

Have a great day!

James Shepherd

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