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This episode is a business coaching course that explains how to improve your sales skill.

Results-Focused Training, Tools, and Workshops from Expert Business Coaches.

Featured Coaching Excerpt - Notes & Transcript, Part 1
  • 14 Ways To Increase Sales: 4. Improve your sales skill, not just your product knowledge
  • Notable Quotable: "Don't rely on your product knowledge to make you more persuasive. Sharpen you skills in reading people, describing your offer in compelling ways and in asking for the order at the right time." - Relationship Selling - The Eight Competencies Of Top Sales Producers
  • Lesson Nugget: You don't need to know all the details of your product to help your customer. You just have to develop the skills needed to determine what they need and want, and how you can help them.
  • Lesson Nugget: Determining what the customer needs and wants is much more important in the selling process than bombarding them with product features.
  • Lesson Nugget: You can't make up for a lack of sales skills with product knowledge.
  • 14 Ways To Increase Sales: 4. Improve your sales skill, not just your product knowledge
  • Notable Quotable: "Don't rely on your product knowledge to make you more persuasive. Sharpen you skills in reading people, describing your offer in compelling ways and in asking for the order at the right time." - Relationship Selling - The Eight Competencies Of Top Sales Producers
  • Lesson Nugget: You don't need to know all the details of your product to help your customer. You just have to develop the skills needed to determine what they need and want, and how you can help them.
  • Lesson Nugget: Determining what the customer needs and wants is much more important in the selling process than bombarding them with product features.
  • Lesson Nugget: You can't make up for a lack of sales skills with product knowledge.

-And now I'm moving on here to the super move number 4. Improve your sales skill, not just your product knowledge.

-Isn't that the truth?

-Now you write here-- don't rely on your product knowledge to make you more persuasive. Sharpen your skills in reading people, describing your offer in compelling ways, and in asking for the order at the right time. Jim, just break that down.

-Each one of those could go into a seminar. Let me tell you a quick story. Years ago, I was here in Tulsa, Oklahoma working with the Tulsa agency of Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance. And I was their sales coach, so I was full-time on the team, but at the same time traveling around the country doing speeches.

And there was one guy that worked there-- very sharp guy-- very, very sharp guy, with multiple degrees, a law degree, accounting degree, and so forth. And he came to me one day at the end of a little seminar I did on selling techniques. And he said Jim, I can't sell this new product until I know the product better. And I said, yeah you can. He said no-- no, I've got to know my product backward and forward. I got to know exactly how it works. I've got to know all the details. And I said no, you don't. He said yeah, I do. I said no.

I said your whole life has been about accounting, and law, and all these other things. And it's really, really important in those fields that you know a lot of these things, but Bill-- pardon me for disclosing his name, Bill. I said, if you had to memorize every law book before you could talk about law, you'd be out of business real, real soon. I said the same thing's true in insurance. What you need to know is what this customer really needs and how you can fill that. But you don't have to know all the details of how that works. Yet, you're going to have to know when you bring that product to the customer to show them the solution.

-I want to dive into this, because I think what you're saying is firing off some light bulbs for people watching this. If someone's watching this-- and let's just say you sell insurance for a living-- if you work in a cosmetic surgery office, if you are doing any kind of-- if you're a home builder right now-- no matter what you're doing, at the end of the day, if you can't build rapport, find the needs of a customer, deliver benefits succinctly, and go before the close, and maybe overcome some objections from time to time, your product knowledge isn't needed, right? I mean, if you don't improve your sales skill, it doesn't matter how much you know. You're not going to-- you know? I mean, so you're just saying you just have to improve your sales skill.

-Wait until you hear the rest of the story.

-I'm ready.

-OK, because there's a kicker to this.

-Yeah, give it to me.

-So Bill said, all right, tell me what to do.

-I said all right. Stop taking all your sales materials with you, and just take a blank pad and a pen on your next sales calls. I said, for one week, do this. Don't take any sales materials with you on any of your sales calls. And he said, well how can I possibly justify that? I said, I want you to go out there and focus only on selling skills, not on product.

Here's what I want you to do for a week. I want you to go in to each of your appointments and say to the client, you know, I know we were scheduled today to talk about this annuity program, and to go through the details of how this works for you, but as I was preparing for this I thought, you know, I really am not sure I totally understand the needs and the goals of this client. So if you don't mind, today I'd like to just ask you some deeper questions and kind of make sure that we are really focused on exactly what you need.

I said now, if you do that, what you'll do is you'll increase the trust with the client. You will come back at the end of the day with a lot more information. And then he said yeah, but what if they ask me about the product? Tell them we can get to that, but I'm not an expert on every one of our products. We have experts. So whichever product we focus on, I'll be sure and get the expertise for you or be the expert available to you. And we'll get to that. But here's what I'd like to know. How's this going to affect the family ownership in your business? Now really-- and what kind of succession planning have you done? And then you can start looking at whatever it is that he was doing.

So he went out and did that for one week. At the end of the week, he came back in, and he was doing a little happy dance. And I said, what is that about? He said well, I just made the biggest sale of my entire career. I said, how did you make the sale? He said, well I didn't know what to suggest for this client, so I was just probing, and doing the information gathering like you were talking about. And the guy revealed a need that was so much bigger than it had ever occurred to me to sell to that I said let me go back to my team, put together a solution for you, and I'll come back.

So I went to my team. They said, oh my gosh-- you know, here, sell him North America. And I went back out, and I just signed a deal that's going to net me $300,000 first year commission.

-Boom!

-No, not boom-- [EXPLOSION SOUND]-- nuclear explosion. It was the largest sales made in that company in that entire year.

-I want to say this, because I think that, if you're watching this and you're going well, that seems like a really great thing for this man. But what about for me? I'm trying to give you so many ample examples that you can't possibly deny the truth of this. There's real estate agents that I've worked with, and I've personally watched them do this. And they go over a needs analysis like what you're talking about. And they find out this person not only wants to buy a home, but they need to sell their home. We could do both. I find auto mechanics who go through this, and they fine not only do your breaks need to be fixed, but we also need to fix this. We need to fix that. It's just-- you UpServe. You're finding more needs and filling them.

JIM CATHCART: What a nice term.

-Yeah, well that's your term-- UpServe. This is the notable quotable here, the king of UpServe. But I just, as far as an action item-- every Thriver, I would encourage you to just dive into the sales skills trainings we have here. And just get into it. I mean, become obsessive about it, because you can't compensate for lack of skill with product knowledge is what it sounds like.

-And most sales organizations put so much emphasis on product knowledge that they assume the more you know about the product, the more likely you are to make a sale. If that were the case, the product designer would be the best salesperson. No! I'm not letting my scientists in the field.

-Yeah, now guys, as you're watching this, I just encourage you-- think right now. What are those action items? Go ahead and type those in the fields right now. Type them in your notes. Act upon this. Think about-- what do you need to do right now to improve your sales skills? Go ahead, and I challenge you to do it.

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