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Five Rules that Open the Gates

Fence gate "There is only one way under high heaven to get anybody to do anything. Just one way. And that is by making the other person want to do it. Remember, there is no other way."— Dale CarnegieChances are, you've lost a sale that you thought was in the bag.
It happens. The way to improve the odds of success is to learn and follow the five "Rules of Qualification." These are so critical to successful salesmanship that some say for each rule you violate, your chances of closing the deal drops by as much as 50%.
So before your next sales call, follow these rules. You'll open the right doors and come back to the office with a smile on your face and a contract in your briefcase:
  • Rule 1. Get to the decision maker. Make sure the person who can say "yes" hears your proposal and is comfortable with it. Develop a relationship with the decision-making authority in the company. Often, this involves establishing a relationship with the "gatekeeper," such as a CEO's administrative assistant.
  • Rule 2. Tap into the prospect's needs. You need to do more than your competitors, who probably sell basically the same service or product you're offering. By asking the right questions, you'll know what the customer needs and you'll be able to offer solutions. And cut down on the jargon - a little goes a long way, too much and the customer won't understand you.
  • Rule 3. Know the competition. Familiarity doesn't breed contempt - it gives you an edge. The more you know your rivals, the more you can emphasize what you have to offer that's different. Point out characteristics and skills that exceed the competition so the customer doesn't make a choice based solely on price.
  • Rule 4. Look for urgency. A prospect who wants assistance within the next month or so is obviously more viable than one who is just thinking about buying. Shorten the sales cycle and create a sense of urgency by asking good questions. If you keep getting the sales stall, it's not worth wasting your time to try to move forward.
  • Rule 5. Justify your price. When people say you're "too expensive," it's often because they don't think they're getting enough value for their money. Emphasize the merits of your product and be sure to distinguish yourself enough from the competition to justify your price, especially if it's higher.
Once you adopt these five rules, you might want to reconsider what you're really selling.
Are you just selling a product or service, or fulfilling a need? According to Dale Carnegie — author and recognized expert on salesmanship, self-improvement, and corporate training — you'll hit the bullseye more often if you if you can show your prospect what he wants.
Here's an example to illustrate Carnegie's point. A struggling life insurance salesman was advised to change his strategy. Instead of trying to sell insurance as security for the insured's family, he framed his sales pitch as a way the prospect could meet his own needs.
Suppose the prospect was intent on having his children attending his alma mater, an Ivy League school, when they reached college age. He knew he couldn't influence them in that direction. But if he were to pass away, his wishes might go unfulfilled, especially if money was tight. By making college funds available through life insurance, he might still have some influence, even after he was gone.
Realizing how important this goal was to the prospect, the salesman successfully changed his sales pitch from selling security for the prospect's family, to selling his ability to help guide his family whether in life or in death.
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