Archive for December, 2012

Bill Gibson – The Competitive Edge…Effective Needs Analysis!

Friday, December 14th, 2012


Bill Gibson

(Sales Guru Magazine – December 2012)

Over 35 years ago I was earning in excess of the equivalent of R3M per year in Canada selling local radio advertising. Here in S.A. I often get asked “Bill, what is it that you do that helps close those large consulting/training contracts?” My answer in most part is “I’m Customer & Solution Focused utilising the Needs Analysis Approach to Selling.” This past year alone I have invested 40% of my time inside of one of the major banks teaching the Needs Analysis Approach to Selling. Why? Because it easily becomes a company’s competitive edge! Too often, we try to sell without knowing the client’s real needs, desires and preferences. This is a win/win method to maximise sales opportunities with a client.

Try the following:


  • Easy general questions in the beginning to build rapport and then ask the confidential, more private and financial questions at the end.
  • Integrate all 4 Types of Questions and use a variety of soft non-threatening openers.
  1. Closed Questions…usually with “Yes” or “No” or a limited choice.
  • “Have you started saving for retirement?”  Yes! No!
  • “What is the best time of day to see you…Morning or Afternoon?”
  1. Open Questions…usually have who, what, why, when and which near the beginning. Using Soft Openers in front make it more of a request reducing a client’s resistance or defensiveness.
Soft Openers (Form of Request)                          Open Questions
  • “Mr Botha, could you tell me…
  • “Aasifah, could you share with me …
  • “Mashudu, may I ask you…


who you now have your current account with?”…what you invest in Radio Advertising annually?”…when it is that you plan to trade your vehicle in?”



  1. Leading Questions…guide the conversation usually towards a positive outcome…often a yes. (A form of an Open Question or Closed Question)
  • “Wouldn’t you agree for cash flow purposes it is important to buy long term assets with a long term loan?”
  1. Directive Questions – direct the mind to a specific focus.
  • “Tell me what you heard here that your other family members would be interested in?”
  • “On a scale of 0 to 10 how effective is your media rep from XYZ Magazine?”
  • Avoid jumping ahead of the clients and listen to “how” they are saying what they are saying and listen to understand, not just to advise, sell, defend and respond. If you start selling half way through, it isn’t a Needs Analysis. Ask people to clarify, it is easier to target your presentation and meet the client’s request. Sell and/or suggest after you get all the information.
  • Write trigger words, circle things, put stars by them, underline important points and facts and write “important” beside certain things that you may utilise later to make a point or recommendation .Keep eye contact.  Don’t let your laptop build a barrier! Match the person’s body language, tone of voice and facial expression. 7% is in the words, 23% in the tone of the voice, 35% in the facial expression and 35% is in the body language. Every once in a while drop the pen, chat and listen.
  • Have a pool of questions to draw from for different situations, different market segments and different groups of people. There are also times when you will give input, do a little educating and give an answer to a client’s question. The key is to gather information, not to dominate the conversation with sales points and your opinions.  It is okay to use “self-disclosure” that builds rapport. Careful…don’t dominate. It’s about them, not you.
  • If possible, sit at 45 degrees or alongside the person and try to get the client to sit at a neutral table rather than at his/her desk. Changing locations or normal places in a room changes the person’s state of mind. Use tools, charts etc. to explain and educate. Contrast keeps their attention and helps to create energy!
  • Know all the products and services of your company and your company’s partners and divisions and actively look for and make note which one’s can be of assistance to the client at a profit to your total organisation. (Collaboration). Above all be sincere and truly look for ways to genuinely assist, coach and serve the client in terms of both his/her career challenges, business solutions and personality profile.
  • Evaluate, Confirm, Recommend and Close what business is possible at that time and/or set up a second meeting to come back with recommendations that are client focused and solution driven.

You can bust those 2013 Targets by taking the Needs Analysis Approach to Selling. Listen! Listen! Listen! And then respond! Best of success!

E-mail: / Blog: / Twitter: @billgibson1

Bill Gibson – Get Your Support People On Side

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

Let’s have a look at the things you can do as a salesperson to get your support team and other salespeople on your side. Also we will look at the actions and ideas that the entire sales team can do for themselves and their support people in the company. Many of the ideas can apply to any team member on non-sales teams.

Take The Lead
Are you on a roll, things are just falling into place one after another and you have got momentum? If so don’t flaunt it in a way that puts your other team members down. Share what’s working with your team members and then you are allowing others to pick up on the draught just like the geese do with each other when flying in a V. The geese get 71% more distance with the same effect flying as a team in a V shape pattern.

Pick People Up
Is someone on the team hitting rock bottom? It is quite common for a team member or two to be struggling while others are really performing. Quite often the only attention the struggling person gets is from the sales manager who wants to know why and maybe even applies pressure. What if the team reacted like the flock of geese do? When a goose is down and hurt two of them go down to protect and try and help. If a team member is in a slump, two strong salespeople could swoop down and try and help by having a chat, looking at what the person has been doing and then helping that person move to productive actions. The two could decide to act as mentors and coaches for a few weeks. A salesperson is less defensive and protective with a team mate than with the sales manager. Talk about the concept in your next sales meeting or at the training session. What a great way to build a powerful team!

Sit down every couple of months with your own “personal audit form” and find out how each of your key people in administration, service, technical, etc. feel the working relationship is working with you and the clients.

Eliminate Small Annoyances
Periodically, on a one-on-one basis or in a group setting, get small annoyances out on the table with the support people. It is often the small things that build up that blow things side ways in a relationship.

Include Everyone
Encourage management to include support, technical and administration people, on most of the courses that salespeople in the company attend. “If you are alive you are in sales” so remember all these people are in sales to one degree or another. Courses on effective communications, customer service and team building are much more effective if people who work as a team performing different facets within the company, go together. They get to know each other and deal with real issues.

Position Action “After” Meeting Strategies
Spearhead the idea of a brainstorm session with other salespeople, sales management and support people on how to reduce psychic pollution. For example after a sales meeting if three people go to a coffee shop they do not sit there and talk about how bad the meeting was and how unhappy they are with things. They talk about how to make things better and how to use what they picked up.

Share Development Tools And Ideas
Share good books and tapes with your support people and with other salespeople. The best way to do this is display some new things you have learned, or talk about some new concepts or ideas for business and personal development you gained from a specific book or , CD or YouTube. If someone shows interest tell them you will loan it to them or give them the link. When you try and force the issue people often run in the opposite direction.

Understand Personality Types
Understand personality styles better. Get support people and salespeople involved. This way people working together understand each other better. Make a note of the styles of each person you work with. Think about it in advance of dealing with them, that way you will adjust your style and expectations. Remember if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it is not an eagle.

Input When Hiring
Influence who it is you are surrounded with by recommending good people for the job and ask management if you can be part of the interview process to give a salesperson’s perspective, or potential co-workers impression, of the person being interviewed.

Pass On Compliments
Salespeople usually only contact technical people, administration people and service people, when they want something or are complaining. Also contact these people to thank them when they have been on time with a delivery. Pass on compliments from clients. Where possible have the client write a thank you note. Consider small thank you gifts internally with the people who help you and your clients.

Do The Unexpected
Do the unexpected. Show up on Monday with a flower for the women in administration. Pass out promotional freebies you may get from clients. These people are your internal customers. You can easily pick up a couple of extra coffees and some pastries and give them to those who help. Do not wait for them to ask. The little things make a difference!

Team Code Of Commitment
Encourage sales management and the prime influencers on the sales team to agree on a “Code of Commitments” for the team to operate better together. Be sure these include how to keep psychic pollution down.

Set Standards Together
Include the sales support and service people on developing a set of standards for dealing with each other.

Set An Example
Be the person who is on time and considerate of others in meetings. You build excellent team support that way.

Be Open
Sit down once a month with those who work closely with you and explain the results. Share targets with them. Reward with personal thank you’s, small gifts, free tickets, etc. Remember it does not have to be a lot financially. Your intent and a small gift is more than most people ever give them.

Bright Light
Be the bright light and the sprinkle of joy in your co-workers, management and support people’s lives. Project optimism and light heartedness. When mistakes are made, explain that failure is not opposite to success, it is part of success. Failures are the stepping stones. Use quick little philosophies like “will it matter a year from today.” “Let’s look at the worst case scenario.” Then, “If that is the worst scenario we have got it made.”
Forced optimism and insensitivity towards other peoples problems and stresses is not what I am talking about. I am talking about being a “breath of fresh air.” Have fun and encourage fun.

Praise! Praise! Praise!
Continually look for reasons to praise support people. Have clients send written thank-you’s. Thank support people in front of others. Let their boss know how they have helped. Send a letter to the boss and a copy to the support person as well.

Understand People
As a salesperson you already understand the psychology of handling people and helping people. Read lots of books and listen to CD’s and take courses on how people’s minds work, how to change beliefs and behaviours etc. Where appropriate, be a sounding board to support people and help them with advice on a personal level as well as the business level.

Include Your Family
Many of the ideas presented in reference to working better with your support team will also work with your family. Remember your family is your support team as well. Put a strategy together to keep them on your side.

Internal Marketing Strategy
As a member of the sales department, encourage the development of an actual strategy to really get individuals and other departments throughout the company, office or plant on-side as allies. There is a natural us versus them hurdle to overcome between sales and production, sales and technical, sales and engineering and sales and administration. Salespeople know how to utilize public relations, marketing services and selling skills to win clients, but they often forget to use them internally. What would it look like if the sales department did some of the following?

– Identify the people who are the centres of influence in the other departments and devise a series of things like lunches, invitations to functions, personal visits or solicit their advice.
– Every six months, each salesperson invests a day in the other department, getting first-hand experience of the realities of doing the actual work there.
– Every six months took the individuals out on sales calls for a day.
– Knew the birthdays of everyone and made a special thing of it, a birthday cake, a small gift, etc.
– “Helper of the Month” award for the person who contributed the most.

As you can see the list could go on and on. With the abilities and experience that resides in most sales departments (any department) there is no reason why they should not be liked and happily supported by other departments. A good strategy, sincere interest and follow through will do the job. United we stand…divided we fall.