The motto of the Boy Scouts of America is “Be Prepared.” It would be well for all salespeople to embrace that motto and prepare themselves in all ways and in every situation that may occur during the sales process.
Preparation is the best offense to overcome a buyer’s defensive posture. In reference to being prepared, someone once asked Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of scouting, "Be prepared for what?" "Why," said Baden-Powell, "for any old thing". According to the scout handbook, the motto means you are always ready in mind and body to do your duty and to face danger, if necessary, to help others. The more scouting skills you have, the better able you are to live up to the motto. When someone has an accident, you are prepared because of your first aid training. Because of lifesaving instruction, you can save a child who has fallen into the water. If a building catches fire, you are ready to help because you have practiced what to do. Proper training prepares you to do your best in the face of an emergency. But Baden-Powell was not just thinking of being prepared for accidents. His idea was that every Scout should prepare himself to become a useful citizen and to give happiness to other people. He wanted each scout to be prepared to work for all the good things life has to offer, and to face, with a strong heart, whatever may lie ahead. Be prepared for life - to live happily and without regret, knowing you have done your best.
That's what the Scout Motto means. Just as in scouting, the more sales skills you have, the better able you are to achieve your sales objectives. Not only will you make more sales through preparation, but you will be in a better position to help your prospects achieve their needs, wants and desires. After all, that should be the slogan of every salesperson, “To help your prospects achieve their objectives and to turn them into lifetime customers”. Prospects actually look to salespeople for the expertise to solve their problems, make recommendations, and to help them achieve their goals. The most successful salespeople have taken the concept of being prepared to heart and have prepared themselves in every way, to be of service to their prospects and customers. Here is a list of ten areas where every salesperson should be prepared.
- Know your products and services. You are the expert. Don’t disappoint your prospects by not knowing enough about your products and services to be able to help them. They are depending on you for solutions.
- Know how to effectively diagnose needs. You must be able to discover the pain of the buyer and know precisely what to do to cure the pain. The main tool of diagnosing is effective questioning techniques. Ask all the questions necessary to understand their needs. Seek to understand from their perspective and then prescribe from your broad world of experience.
- Know your industry. To effectively service the needs of your prospective customers, you must have a broad understanding of your industry and your competition. Your knowledge, properly applied, will give you the power necessary to meet their needs and to close the sale.
- Know your competition. You must have a clear understanding of who you are competing with, what they have to offer, their advantages, disadvantages, unique features, pricing and value. There are plenty of tools available to you to know all you need to know about your competition. Don’t forget to ask your prospects for information about your competitors.
- Know the decision maker. Don’t waste your time with people who are not empowered to make a decision. Ask the question, “Who besides yourself will be involved in the decision making process?” Don’t leave it to chance.The most successful salespeople spend their time working with the decision maker.
- Know how to overcome objections and concerns. People don’t buy if they have unresolved concerns. Get them all out on the table and then proceed to deal with each one. As you find resolution to each of their concerns, you are moving closer to completing the sale.
- Research the company. Know the “who, what, why, when, where and how” of the company. The more knowledge you have about them and their needs, the more likely you are to present the best solution.
- Know how to maximize your time. The more time you spend in the sales arena, the more sales you will make. Many salespeople don’t take the time to learn and apply time management skills and therefore never achieve their true sales potential.
- Have your “romance kit” with you at all times. Take the time and effort to prepare a romance kit with all the tools necessary to close a sale. It should include reference letters and videos, brochures, pictures, samples, and anything else you feel will support your sales process.
- Educate yourself in the principles and skills of selling. Sales training is a seven billion dollar industry. There are more ways for a salesperson to improve his or her skills than one can imagine. Do something every day to improve yourself. Read, listen, and study the habits of great salespeople.