A few years ago I attended an auction for a charity event and I was fascinated with the auctioneer. Although his words per minute were off the chart, I was able to follow just about everything he was saying. He had me and the entire audience captivated. However, despite him being entertaining there was no question that he was a salesman trying to get people to spend money on the items that were up for auction. Earlier this year I knocked doors with three auctioneers…errr, three of my sales reps who very well could have been mistaken for auctioneers. Although what they were saying was spot-on, how they were saying it was extremely salesy.
Unlike auctioneers, most people speak quickly because they are either nervous or so accustomed to saying something that they mindlessly rattle it off without much thought. The sales reps in question were certainly not nervous…they had all sold door to door before, so I concluded they were in such a hurry to relay their information that they were failing to personalize the message and make the potential customer think what they were saying was specifically catered to them and/or their situation (house location, age of home, pets, kids, etc.).
As sales reps, we have to pay close attention to the speed at which we are delivering our message. Notable is the fact that speed can vary depending on the person we are trying to sell. A potential customer backing out of their driveway may need to be spoken to more quickly than a potential customer sitting on their front porch in a rocking chair. Consider mirroring the speed of the person you are talking to. Most people will speak at an average speed, thus your speed should be average or conversational.
In general, speaking at a comfortable pace will allow you to cater the message and be perceived as less of a salesperson and more as somebody who is sharing information. Don’t be in a rush to get through your pitch, instead find ways to make each approach different. Talk at a comfortable speed and leave the speed-talking to the auctioneers.
Knocking doors in Oklahoma this week with a few of our new sales reps I was reminded of a valuable skill to becoming a great salesperson…conversations.
As I observed a sales rep trying so hard to make the sale to an interested prospect, the sales rep just couldn’t quite convince her to sign up for the service. He was going through the exact protocol as I had taught him but I sensed that the potential customer didn’t know him well enough or have enough trust in him to pull the trigger and come to the decision to sign the agreement.
I interjected with a simple question, “How long have you lived in the area?” Which spawned the makings of a great conversation. We then talked about what she did for a living and that escalated the conversation to an entire new level. For the next five minutes we had a conversation…nothing about sales, and that’s what it took to earn her trust.
Not only did she sign up for service but she also gave us her credit card number to reserve a spot on the route. Admittedly, she told us that she never gives her credit card number out to anybody but apparently she trusted us enough, even though we had only known her for 15 minutes, that she was willing to give us her card number.
A simple question was all it took to have a meaningful conversation and shed the cloak of a stereotypical salesperson.
Technically I’ve been writing this book since I started as a door-to-door salesman in 1998. However, I really began organizing my thoughts and ideas last November. For four months straight, six days a week from 6am to 8am and from 10pm to midnight I wrote, re-wrote and edited what is now my finished product:
Door-to-Door Millionaire: Secrets of Making the Sale
Although grueling and frustrating at times, I can look back and appreciate the process and most importantly the final product.
I would be remiss if I didn’t thank my wife and kids for enduring this process with me. Even though my head was oftentimes stuck in a cloud of door-to-door experiences and sales techniques I was trying to put on paper, they were patient and understanding throughout.
I have found so much joy in teaching others sales and communication techniques that simplify the sales process. It’s thrilling to hear from salespeople after I’ve recently trained them about how a certain phrase or response changes an entire conversation.
What happens next is anybody’s best guess. I never wrote this book with the intention of selling thousands of copies, only with the intention to help struggling salespeople or those who desire to become better communicators.