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So your foot’s in the door . . . . Now What?

Taking the angst out of closing and the guesswork out of sales, are the ambitious goals of a fascinating new book, entitled "So your foot's in the what? How to create the environment where ...

Taking the angst out of closing and the guesswork out of sales, are the ambitious goals of a fascinating new book, entitled “So your foot’s in the door…now what? How to create the environment where people want to buy.” Hitting the stores early next month (see, the book is penned by Steven J. Schwartz, author of the bestseller, How To Make Hot Cold Calls. Although this a stand-alone book, it’s a natural sequel to Hot Calls. After all, once you’re in the door this is hardly the time to drop the ball.

This book will enhance your ability to persuade, influence and close with the kind of personal selling behaviours, which create the environment where people want to do business with you. This is important not just for those occasions when you call on customers, but also when they call on you, such as in retail sales or trade shows.

True to his style, Steven provides a systematic approach with effective, practical tools and techniques, which can be easily mastered, probably because the system is so intuitive. It evolved from his near quarter century in self-employment where he created sales effectiveness systems to get in the door and then secure deals. The system is based on respect: respect for you, your customers and the sales call itself; the kind of respect that builds lasting relationships that nurture future business and referrals. It makes the case that you won’t have to worry about closing when you create the environment to close.

Within that environment is the necessity to connect with your customers and stay connected throughout the sales cycle until the deal is sealed. Schwartz maintains that “the power to connect with customers accelerates the buy decision” and when you disconnect the sale is lost. The premise of the book holds that you disconnect when people don’t understand and/or relate to something you said. The hidden danger is that most of the time you don’t know that you disconnected because people often won’t tell you that they don’t understand or relate. Your need to stay connected is made all the more challenging because the face-to-face sales call is by its very nature an unstructured environment; how can you influence the sale when you can’t control what people will say, do or ask? The answer lies in creating islands of structure in an unstructured environment.

Islands of structure are specific moments where you take control of your sales call and as result, control the outcome. They include how you set the tone and atmosphere of the meeting by the initial impression you create and the way you “turn your audience on” to get their undivided attention; how you “take the reins” with specific qualifying questions that dictate the direction and substance of the sales call; how you verify the customer’s story before you tell your story; how to make customers want to hear about your solution before you even talk about it; how you can close “as gentle as a feather” or better yet, have your customers close you; and how to test to make sure that there are no hidden barriers to closing the deal.

One island of structure I found absolutely a must-read was the discussion around presentations. Steven makes a distinction between both the formal and informal kind. You won’t get a chance to make a formal presentation if your informal ones don’t hit a home run, yet how many of us are really prepared with a knock-out response that is proven to work every time? It’s here where the book delivers outstanding value by walking you through a detailed process for creating, rehearsing and testing the content of your presentations. I haven’t come across anything like it before.

Schwartz also takes a very comprehensive look at how to read your audience. As he says, “reading the audience is the glue that holds your sales call together.” It’s crucial to connect and make the sale happen, and the detail the book goes into is worth the price of admission.

This book does not take the reader for granted. It compels you to read line by line. Perhaps that’s just part of the author’s overall philosophy on sales. “Always respect the fact that people don’t have to buy from you” Schwartz declares. “The challenge is to create an atmosphere where they want to. That’s plenty to think about.” Indeed.

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