Stop Taking Orders
Stop Taking Orders
Alter Your Approach to Start Making Sales
By Aaron Prickel
The days when the phone rang off the hook with potential customers, when you were more focused on being a friend first and a salesperson second and when you grew your business with order takers instead of salespeople are over. The past two years have shaped a new business landscape that will chew up and swallow business owners and salespeople who are stuck in the “order taker” way of selling.
Order takers drop off promotional items or snacks for prospects in hopes of getting an order. They sit back and wait for the phone to ring. And, they typically only call on people who have purchased from them in the past. Order takers can cripple a business by extending the sales cycle, reducing its “product to price” and losing opportunities in the pipeline. Each of these approaches has a direct correlation to one thing: the company’s bottom line.
With the recent uptick in business, the economy is starting to turn around; now is the time to take advantage of it. Shifting your employees’ behavior from an order taker to a salesperson mentality can be difficult, but once it’s accomplished you will see a dramatic change in your sales.
Being trapped in the order taker mode happens for several reasons. This is how business has been generated for the past several years, and your staff may not know how to create new or additional business. Moreover, salespeople often have a hard time realizing the new game being played and do not understand that they have to play by the new rules.
Developing a strategy
The biggest barrier that holds people back from breaking into the salesperson role is the fear of being pushy. Selling is not the same as being pushy. Order takers let the fear of being pushy affect the way they communicate. They fear that it will jeopardize relationships with potential or current clients – and cause them to lose a sale – if they upset them.
Good salespeople ask tough questions. Order takers, on the other hand, find it easier to visit clients or prospects and simply ask, “Do you have any projects coming up or are you planning to buy any of my products in the next two to six months?” This doesn’t compel prospects to buy from you, but if you are in the right place at the right time you will get business. Match these pieces up with the final mindset of, “I’m here to help” and you have rounded out the characteristics of an order taker.
If you believe you or your staff is in order taker mode, there are a few things that can help you transform yourselves into professional salespeople:
- Designate a purpose for each call or meeting other than just “checking in.” Too often, salespeople “wing it” and hope something works out in the end.
- Constantly look for ways your company can help the prospect. Then, create a gap, which is the space between where your prospects are and where they want to be. This is how you really help a prospect. Merely asking if they have anything for you (to assist them with) doesn’t necessarily help him or her. Ask a question such as, “What is not happening that should be happening?” Gap questions open up the meeting and help prospects to discover a problem they didn’t realize existed.
- Know the difference between assertive and aggressive – no salesperson should ever be aggressive. At the same time, salespeople have the right to ask whatever questions they want as long as they get permission to do so first.
Business is out there, but salespeople have to learn to adapt to be successful. Instead of focusing on making people happy and not being pushy, they should concentrate on setting a goal for each visit, creating gaps with tough questions and focusing on being assertive rather than aggressive.
Order takers help their clients, but not to the extent salespeople do. A good salesperson truly helps prospects when they discover problems they never knew existed. Once they do this, they are viewed as a valuable resource instead of just another salesperson. If you want to know how to make orders happen instead of simply taking them, challenge your salespeople with the steps above, and you will find additional success just around the corner. It’s your turn. Are you ready?
Author: Aaron Prickel is a vice president with Lushin and Associates, Inc. He can be contacted at (317) 218-1913 or www.lushin.com