The basics are over. Maybe you don't know it yet.
"Let's get back to the basics" is arguably the single-dumbest phrase in sales. (Not to be confused with the angriest phrase in sales, "We're changing the comp plan.")
When a manager or a leader says, "Let get back to the basics," what he or she is really saying is, "I have nothing new to say." (This is especially true for managers with more than 10 years of experience, who already know everything, and are not active in the field.)
The basics are over. They are dead and gone. No more cold calling, no more overcoming objections, no more tie-down questions, no more closing the sale, and no more finding the pain. Those days are over. They left somewhere between 1972 and 1992.
You may not know it, your manager may not know it, but the "basics" are why you still have to sell price and lose to the lowest bidder.
I have always tried to get away from using the term "basics" by referring to important elements in the selling process as "fundamentals" and expanding from there. Fundamentals like great attitude, deep belief, truth, friendly helpful people, fast response, and error-free delivery.
These fundamentals constitute what every customer expects. And all of them are a GIVEN. If you and your entire company are not masters of the fundamentals, all the rest of this information is worthless.
Beyond the fundamentals are the imperatives of sales and selling. They are the new strategies to employ and new elements of selling that must be mastered in order for you to achieve sales in these times, and for the next decade or two, and they have nothing to do with "the basics." Without them you will die an unhappy, slow, sales death, griping and blaming others all the way.
1. Be better than your competitors. In everything BUT price.
2. Be different from your competitors. In a way you can prove.
3. Be closer to your customer than your competitors. Relationships rule.
4. Have a value-based offering. In favor of the customer.
5. Have a value-based sales presentation. One that's delivered in a compelling manner. One that emphasizes what happens after the customer takes ownership: customer profit, productivity, and morale.
6. Be prepared with questions and ideas in terms of, and in favor of, the customer. This means "less pitch" and more engagement, dialog, and interaction.
7. Uncover buying motives. Uncover the real reason that a customer wants to buy. Once you uncover the buying motive, their urgency becomes your reality, and even more powerful is that you will have converted a selling atmosphere into a buying atmosphere.
8. Meet with the CEO (or actual decision maker) on the first call. This may be the most difficult, yet most (sales) rewarding part of the process. It's also a report card on how well you understand these imperatives.
9. Master business social media. Have your own (personal) YouTube channel. Have a business Facebook page where more than 1,000 people like you. Have a LinkedIn account with more than 500 connections and use keywords in your summary. Tweet a value message daily to at least 500 people who follow you on Twitter.
10. Use testimonials and let your present customers (rather than you) overcome your prospective customers' sales barriers. When you say it about yourself, it's bragging. When your customer says it about you, it's proof.
11. Earn referrals rather than waste time making cold calls. Referrals are the highest percentage sales call. Cold calls are the lowest. Would you rather make 100 cold calls or earn five referrals?
12. Reputation. Reputation is a combination of: What are you known as? What are you known for? What's your image? What's your Google image? What's your business social media image? What's the "word-of-mouth" out on you?
13. Become a trusted advisor to all your customers. You EARN the status of trusted advisor slowly over time. When you do, price is no longer an issue.
13.5 Perception. The customer's perception is your reality. You may think that you offer value. You may think that you're a great salesperson. You may think that you're a trusted advisor. You may think that you have a great reputation. But those thoughts don't matter. If the customer perceives great value, actual differentiation, and trust, then you will win. If they don't, you will bid or battle price, or both. And even if you win the sale in that environment, you lose. You lose profit and you lose to the next guy who comes along 10 cents cheaper.
REALITY: The new imperatives of selling have replaced the "basics" — forever. And that's great news for you. Or is it?
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Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of "The Sales Bible" and "The Little Red Book of Selling." President of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer, he gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings, and conducts Internet training programs on selling and customer service at trainone.com. He can be reached at 704-333-1112 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org