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  • Robert Farago

How to Sell Anything To Anyone Pt. 1: Qualify

A simple sales system to change your life

Start with this: sales is a three-part system. Qualify, Present, Close. If that comes as a revelation, boy do you need this advice. If it doesn’t, let me ask you this: do you ask for the sale every time you talk to a customer? You’re a rare bird if you do. Less than 20 percent of salespeople ever ask for the sale.

You might think that’s because 80 percent of salespeople don’t have balls. I beg to differ. It takes cojones to be a salesman.

It’s an inherently risky profession; you’re only as good as your last sale. As most sales folk work on commission, they never know if they’re going to make a great living, a good living or no living at all.

Sales is also considered confrontational (notice that qualifier). Most people hate confrontation. Almost as much as they hate rejection. But not quite. Rejection is the reason most people don’t like sales. Why they leave the profession.

The main reason salespeople don’t ask for the sale? Their sales system sucks. They arrive at the end of the process like Snow White in the forest: lost. They’re not sure how they got there. Where “there” is, exactly. Where they need to go.

Bottom line: you can’t expect to score a goal – and score consistently – if you don’t know how to play the game. The whole game. The sales game begins with qualifying the customer. Find out what they want/need.

Warning! If your customer doesn’t want or need what you’re selling, don’t sell it to them. I’m serious.

The idea that a great salesman can sell anything to anyone makes a great headline, but it’s not true.

A salesman who sells something to someone they don’t want or need is a conman, not a salesman. Bully? That too.

A person who cons someone into buying an unwanted product or service alienates the customer, who will find out they’ve been “sold a bill of goods.”

It’s unethical, immoral and self-defeating. It ruins the most precious thing a salesman has: their reputation.

Make that time. Time spent selling to the “wrong” customer is much better spent selling to the “right” customer – who will recommend you to others and build your career.

The most efficient way to establish a customer’s needs – what they want – is to find out why they bought the same product or service before. Past performance is indicative of future results.

People are creatures of habit. Buying habits are no different than any other habit, from what foods the customer prefers to eat to which side of the bed they sleep on. In other words, buying is a subconscious habit.

That means the vast majority of customers don’t know why they bought something. So ask. Ask them “What are the three things you like about your current product/service?” It’s that easy.

Let’s say you’re trying to sell me a car. I like my current Audi S4 because it’s fast, comfortable and handles well. Boom. Qualification done.

Every car I’ve ever bought, every car I will ever buy, answers to that description. A car will only make me happy if it has those three characteristics, in that order. If you try to sell me a car that isn’t fast, comfortable or handles well, I won’t want it.

You could focus on what I don’t like about my S4. And you will in this system, eventually.

To understand why you don’t start or indeed focus on “problems,” I’ll tell you I don’t like the fact that my Audi’s white, lacks a drop top and doesn’t make a great engine sound. And? I bought my S4 despite these “problems” not because of them.

If you try to sell me a blue V6 Mustang convertible that makes a great sound you’re not listening. Same for the best vintage Mustang. What I really really want is speed, comfort and handling. I proved that when I bought a white Audi S4 four-door.

Cars, shoes, houses, software, phones, lawn service, watches – I have a buying habit for all of them. So do you. So does your customer.

To qualify a customer – to find out whether your product or service is appropriate and how to sell it – you have to know your customer’s subconscious buying habit. Their three “likes.”

Not one like. Not two. Not four. Too few, too few, too many. Three. Three is the magic number.

If you can show your customer that your product or service meets their three “likes” you have an excellent chance of selling them your product or service. Yes, chance.

There’s more to this sales method than just knowing their likes. But that’s where you start. “What are the three things you like about your current product/service?”

There are three major benefits to this approach, even if you don’t make the sale. First, you’re starting off on the right foot.

You’re being positive. Inquisitive in a friendly, non-confrontational way. You’re not playing tug-of-war or arguing with the customer; trying to show them where and how they made a bad decision by buying a competitor’s product or service (not yet). Warm fuzzies all ‘round.

Second, asking a customer their three likes gives you the most valuable marketing information there is. You know – in order – what your customer wants.

If you don’t have a product or service that flicks their Bic, don’t waste your or their time. Bail. Sale gone, but you know what you need to have. And you know why you didn’t sell them a product or service.

By the same token, if you don’t make the sale on the spot, you know exactly how to try again: by hitting them with their likes. Not a discount (unless “price” is one of their likes).

Better yet, you can group customers by their likes and send out the most highly targeted marketing they’ve ever received. Marketing they’ll want to receive.

Write the likes down! Again, the customer is presenting them in order of importance.

Once you’ve got their three likes – a two-minute or less process – not only have you begun the sales process quickly and easily without stressing either yourself or the customer, but now you know how to sell them your product or service. You sell them on their three likes.

Hang on! First you have to ask your customer the three things they don’t like about their current product or service. That’s the next question – for the next installment in this series.

Meanwhile, warning! This is an entire process. You can’t pick and choose bits. So wait until you read the following posts before implementing this process.

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