How to sell ice to an Eskimo, the 4 Rules
In my previous article How to sell ice to an Eskimo in 7 steps, I mentioned that the idea of this title is to drive home the point that sales can be challenging.
I have been in sales for 25 years and I have benefited greatly by some great sales tips that I learned and applied along the way. In addition to the 7 steps, there are 4 rules you must absolutely follow to be successful in sales.
I cannot forget this incident that happened early in my sales career. This story emphasizes the importance of applying the sales rules to ensure sales success.
The customer pushed away from the desk and abruptly stood up. ”I’ll have to think about it”, he said forcefully.
I was a novice in sales at that time but my mind was racing because I know from experience that if a customer walks out from the showroom, there’s a very slim chance I’ll see him again. That’s because of the Law of Diminishing Return (more of this later) I knew he was definitely buying and I’ve given him a great deal.
I stood up, extended my hand which he grasped and which I did not let go, and blurted out something I read in Joe Girard’s book, ”John, let’s be opened. What can I do to get your business now?” I remembered emphasizing the word NOW.
He was stunned for a moment because he thought I was letting him go and to think about it. ”Well…actually…I’m thinking of another brand of car, a ….ah…Model B”
”Ah, I see, I have some information about this model, may I share that with you?”
We sat down and I told him that the competitor’s model he’s interested in retail for $40,000, $5,000 more than the model I was selling.
His reaction was, ”Oh really, I guess that’s out of my budget.” I closed the deal. And he became a good friend. That was 25 years ago!
You may know Joe Girard as the world’s best car salesman. He’s recognized by Guinness Book of World records as the world’s greatest salesman, having sold 13,001 vehicles from 1963 to 1978, which were 867 units a year!
Reading his book the first time 25 years ago, and learning and tumbling through trials and errors, I know the selling game or process has not changed. Whether you’re selling cars or cats, house or insurance, flowers or coffee, you need to follow the rules of the game and you’ll be able to sell anything to anyone.
I would like to share 4 powerful rules that will help you improve your sales closing ratio. (Don’t forget the 7 steps)
You must be super knowledgeable about the product you’re selling. I’ve seen many salespeople giving this matter scant attention. They tried to get by with minimal knowledge as they’re lazy to learn.
A good friend of mine was very excited to start working as a salesperson in a company owned by his elder brother. The company deals with high-end security locks. He thought he’ll hit the road selling security locks when he reported for work. But instead, the brother sent him to the office basement where he repaired locks for 2 months! He was initially disappointed but later he realized the knowledge he acquired was invaluable in his sales career. He became the best sales person in the company. He said, ‘I know the inner workings of all locks of our brands and even that of the competitors. I can explain clearly all inquiries. I can handle all objections. That gave me great confidence in facing the customers. And better closing power’.
So true. Referring to my own experience mentioned earlier, I would not be able to close that sale if I didn’t know the competitor Model B was selling for $40,000, $5,000 more than the model I was recommending. The best part of closing that sale was that he became a good friend and recommended his friends to purchase from me.
Rule 2: Law of Diminishing Return
This law simply means that the prospect is at his highest eagerness to buy a product when discussing with you. But if you let him or her go without closing, their desire to buy from you diminishes over time. When you call back, you get a ringing tone that goes on and on.
Hence, you’ve got to build the belief and confidence to ‘close on the spot’ every buying prospect you meet. Opportunity may not knock twice.
A couple was looking to buy a van to ferry factory workers. Tried as I might, I couldn’t close. Finally, the husband said, ‘I’ll like to discuss with my wife first.’ Without missing a beat, I replied, ‘Ok, that’s a great idea.’ I stood up and moved away from the discussion table. They were surprised because obviously, they thought they’ll be going home to discuss.
I stayed out of earshot and from the corner of my eyes I could see an animated discussion. The husband looked up and I came over. They raised s final objection which I was able to overcome. And a deal was signed! If I’ve allowed them to return home to discuss, the Law of Diminishing Return would have kicked in. The chance of closing will drop greatly.
The best part was, he recommended another 4 of his friends to buy the same model factory van!
Rule 3: Control the sale
A couple was planning their wedding anniversary in a fancy restaurant out of the city. One problem. The wife accidentally packed his old pants that he couldn’t fit anymore! So they rushed to a store. The nearest was a branded store. He told the salesperson the story why he needed a new pair of pants, his size and that they should not cost more than $40.
The salesperson found a pair and began to explain the benefits of the pants: braces buttons already sewn in, less cease, less dry cleaning and pressing.
The husband said that was not important. He just wanted a pair that cost less than $40. So how much was this pair?
‘Sir, they’re only $120’, the salesperson answered confidently.
The man explained that’s just too much for him to pay for a pair of pants and started to walk out.
‘By the way, what time is your anniversary dinner?’, the salesperson asked.
The couple explained it’s another 2 hours at a restaurant about 20 minutes from their hotel. The salesperson reminded them that the pants needed to be tailored. And it will take time. He called the tailor and said, ‘…yes we need it tailored now. …this is important…..it’s his anniversary which is at 8 o’clock. Can you make it in time?’
The salesperson was assuming the sale as the customer priority now was not the price but getting the pants ready in time for his anniversary!
Turning to the man, the salesperson asked, ‘Straight legs or cuff, Sir?’ The answer was straight legs. ‘Would that be cash or credit card?’ Credit card. And so the man bought $120 pants!
See how the salesperson controls the sales by asking questions that divert from the cost problem and instead by focusing on the man’s problem which was getting a new pair of pants and be on time for his important date.
Rule 4: Persuasive sales scripts
Just last week I was training some new salespersons about the importance of sales scripts. Great scripts allow you to control the sales. He applied it and was so surprised with the results. One afternoon, a prospect called in and inquired about a car model. Then the prospect said he’ll drop by another day.
The newbie said, ‘‘Let’s meet this afternoon at 3:30 pm or 4:30 pm?”. There was a slight pause at the other end and then the prospect replied, ‘Hmm…ok, 4:30 pm is fine”. They met, and a sale is closed!
You see, powerful scripts can help you to control the sale. In this case, the salesperson has decided for the customer that they were going to meet that day and it was either 3:30 pm or 4:30 pm. The reason why the salesperson did not say 3 pm or 4 pm was because it would give the impression that the meeting would be an hour long. By saying 3:30 or 4:30, his brain registered the word “30” and decideed that the meeting would only be 30 mins. It’s just like we see an offer for a t-shirt for $9.99, and we tell ourselves it’s less than $10.
One more point. I was watching a salesperson talking to a prospect on the telephone. He was explaining the different models and the different promotions. It took a good 30 minutes. Finally, when he requested for an appointment the prospect said – you guessed it – “It’s ok, I know where is your dealership, I’ll drop by when I’m free”. Of course, chances are he would not.
So, how can you get an appointment over the telephone? Persuasive script.
Prospect – What’s the offer for this Model?
You – We have several variants on this model with different offers. It’s not easy to explain over the telephone. Let’s meet up.
Prospect – Please try.
You – Well, it will take quite a bit of time. An appointment will be great.
Prospect – In that case, I’ll see you when I see you.
You – Mr. John, I understand why you are a little hesitant to meet me. Perhaps, you are worried I’ll pressure you to buy. Here’s my promise, we meet, I give you the brochure, explain the price and promotions, then I’ll leave.
Prospect – Oh…in that case, ok.
You – Shall we meet this morning or this afternoon?
Prospect –this afternoon
You – that’s fantastic, 3:30 pm or 4:30 pm
Prospect – 4:30 pm is good.
You – Wonderful, your address is…
Initially, the customer did not agree to an appointment because he was worried the salesperson would pressure him to buy. But the salesperson understood his feeling and promised not to force him to buy. That eased the tension, and an appointment was secured. And a deal was done!
So you’ll need to find persuasive scripts for the product you’re selling. Scripts for greeting, consulting, product presentation, closing, and negotiation. You’ll get more ideas on persuasive scripts as you read How to sell ice to an Eskimo in 7 steps.
Hi, my name is Song. Thanks for visiting hard-knocked-life-coach.com. Please come again!
One more thing, I would love to hear your comment on other effective sales rules that you use.