Spend a couple of decades traveling with top sales people and you will learn something important. I did. Here are a few lessons I learned from a top salesman in Texas that may provide you with some valuable insights. Many of the lessons I????????ll note below I have learned from personal experience or from other sales people, but I learned them over and over again from a great salesman in Texas.
While managing a regional sales force for Coopervision I used to work with a great salesman in Texas. Let????????s call him Randy. He taught me many things by his excellent example. Often he would sell as much or more in a week than my entire region would sell during the same week.
He taught me to sell the dream. We were selling intraocular lenses to ophthalmologists at the time. However, we had a financing plan where the physician could layer a small payment on top of the lens payment. That small payment would apply to the purchase of a piece of surgical equipment. It was a great plan as it locked the doctor into buying our lenses and it sold surgical equipment. Financing equipment was a great way to sell more lenses.
Randy would pull out a book full of surgical instrumentation technical sales sheets and ask the doctor to take a couple of minutes to dream with him. He would show them a piece of equipment such as a YAG laser or a phacoemulsifier, or an occutome (all very expensive pieces of surgical equipment) and then he would ask, ??????What would this piece of equipment do for your practice??????? He would wait for an answer. Soon the doctor would be talking about the importance of that equipment. As soon as Randy knew what was important to the surgeon he would say, ??????We can show you how to own this today and it will be painless.?????? Then he would explain the program and sign up a contract. We sold thousands of lenses as a byproduct of an equipment sale and Randy didn????????t even work for the equipment division. Not only that, sometimes he would sell more equipment than some of the equipment reps sold.
When we were done signing the contract Randy would ask, ??????Do you think any of your friends would appreciate this program??????? The doctor would inevitably say yes. Randy would ask, ??????Will you call a couple of them now and tell them we????????re on our way over to share the program with them??????? It was amazing how well that worked. These referrals turned into more business.
Randy solved problems for his customers. He would look for areas that they felt needed improvement. Things like a piece of equipment that would be of value or that was out dated, or a different style of lens that might be easier to implant, etc. He would look for a solution, offer it to the customer, and then close them on the idea.
Randy had supreme confidence. He taught me that it????????s ok to ask for big business. Back in those days a 50-lens order was a nice order as the average surgeon only performed 50 cataract surgeries per year. I asked Randy to help me to figure out how to sell an extra 1,000 lenses for the week. The average lens cost about $325. At the time this was an almost unheard of order. Soon we were on our way to see a surgeon in Oklahoma City who was known to do 1,000 cataract procedures per year. We walked in and Randy asked, ??????What would it take to sell you 1,000 lenses today??????? The doctor laughed at Randy????????s audacity. Randy said, ??????I????????m serious.??????
We spent the morning in surgery with the surgeon and between cases we talked about reasons why he might consider doing such a thing. It turned out he had a small inventory of old lenses that he wanted trade-in credit for and wanted some shelving to store the lenses in and demanded a good price, but then, if we????????d be willing to do those things, he????????d be willing to place the order. By the end of lunch we had a contract for 1,000 lenses. Think big and ask for big things. Ask and ye shall receive.
Randy taught me to never be intimidated. It didn????????t matter how rich, how successful, how arrogant, or how busy a surgeon was, Randy was never intimidated. He saw every potential client as a new friend and he treated him or her that way. You would have thought that everyone we went to see was a long lost friend. In fact, it was not an act, Randy genuinely loved these people and they could feel it. They were his friends and they were glad to see us when we came. I assure you it wasn????????t that way for all sales people. If someone was abrupt with us he????????d acknowledge they were busy and get to the point. But somehow he always managed to crack a joke, ask about family, or discuss a shared hobby. He always found a way to talk to them as a friend, not just as a salesman. He established relationships and it made us welcome in those offices, hospitals, clinics, surgery centers, and surgery suites.
Closing on the sale was a special talent Randy exhibited. He was not the most technical salesman I knew, but he knew how to close. During one forty-five minute sales call I listened to him close the surgeon no less than fifty times. I was counting the closes as I had observed before that Randy was a closer. He didn????????t hesitate. He wasn????????t embarrassed to ask for the order. He wasn????????t afraid to ask. That was what he was there for. He knew the surgeon expected him to ask. When he completed a presentation, he asked for the order. Every time he overcame an objection, he asked for the order. Every time he pointed out a feature, he asked for the order. Every time he explained a benefit, he asked for the order. He had dozens of different formats for closing. He had done it so many times that it just flowed from him. Soon the surgeon would be signing the order. Randy was a force of nature. Eventually they could no longer say no. Eventually all resistance evaporated. Ask and ye shall receive. Don????????t ask and forget about it. The more he asked, the better he became at asking and the more he sold.
Randy taught me to sell multiple products on a single sales call. At the time our sales force was an intraocular lens sales force. Randy always felt that if he could get the time he would sell the equipment for our sister division, the equipment division. Of course he tied it into selling lenses, but if he could talk about more than one product, and sell multiple things in a single call and bundle them all together he always would. It made him more effective, more productive, and wealthier. He earned commissions of all of it. So, if the surgeon would give us the time, Randy would sell every product that he could pull out of his bag. This was part of the magic of thinking big, of making maximum use of the little bit of sales time we would get in front of the customer each day.
Randy always loved what he was doing. He enjoyed his work so much that it was almost like being on a holiday to work with him. He became a legend in that sales force and in other sales forces since. He always served his customers and never sold them anything he didn????????t believe would benefit their practice and their patients. He has always been 100% honest with them and has been everybody????????s friend. Randy has thousands of friends today, and everyone????????s respect. He has helped many a surgeon implement improved technology into his practice and many a patient enjoy an improved surgical result as a result of his sales skills. It????????s people like Randy who sell the technology that keeps health care progressing.