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University of Massachusetts Amherst

Family Business Center

A Sales Trainer Who Guarantees "Bulletproof" Results

by Shel Horowitz

If sales training in your company means throwing a new recruit a copy of Zig Ziglar's book and tagging the new hire along with an experienced rep for a couple of days, take a deep breath and sit down. Mike O'Horo's going to blow your mind.

O'Horo, of Sales Results, Inc., shared his innovative sales approach with Family Business Center members at Chez Jozef April12.

Sales people don't have to be perceived as manipulators, he believes. Nor should they randomly chase prospects. "It doesn't matter how well you execute the path-if it's the wrong path!" Doesn't it make more sense to get permission from people who already want your product-and change the sales focus from an unwanted intrusion to a welcome-and rewarded-provision of service?

Start by creating a profile of your best current buyers-then look for prospects who match that profile. When you find them, don't pitch! Identify the "demand trigger": the problem your prospect needs solved so urgently that he or she is ready to spend money today (typically, driven by either fear of loss or desire for gain). Instead of pitching, investigate collaboratively: ask questions and listen. Learn if it makes sense to do business together. Only switch to solution mode once the prospect has concluded that he or she must take action to solve this problem-and you know that your product or service will allow the client to satisfy that demand. Once the buyer concludes that you offer 4 or 5 times greater value than the perceived risk, he or she feels compelled to buy.

To do this, focus not on product features, not even on the benefits to a generic client, but on your client's specific and deep needs. Avoid the trap of pushing product; don't be "the most expensive human catalog." O'Horo says, "The buyer doesn't care what you think-only about what you know can improve the three factors": the effect the client desires, the relationship between value and investment, and self-interest/ego needs.

How do you know? Ask! What is the business problem (independent of your offer)? How important is this problem? What positive effects would you expect if you fixed it-and what benefit would that have for your business? How does the problem affect you personally? Once you've asked, "shut up and listen." From the buyer's answers, you'll both recognize whether it needs attention-then let the client conclude that the cost of inaction is too high.

Explore why the problem hasn't been solved; ask, "what are the barriers to solving this problem?" Then determine how many others are affected. Ask, "who beside yourself is the natural champion to lead the charge within your company? Is there any reason why we shouldn't pursue this sponsorship and get this fixed?"

That's when you've been given permission to sell together. As soon as you switch to telling, you've blown your credibility. If you're cross-selling outside your own expertise, bring in your resident expert: "Would you find it helpful to talk with someone who has solved this problem for many others?"

But you still need to differentiate your product from the competition-to show where you add the value. Show how you're different (NOT better; don't make the client feel stupid about an existing choice). If you've set it up along O'Horo's principles, the client often won't even consider anyone else's solution; you've earned the right to advance to each successive next step.

Remember: the client doesn't care about you or your company, but cares about reducing their cost-not about increasing your revenues.

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