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Before, During and After

Part of your sales success depends on how and when you impress your clients.

By Michael Harrison

To continuously increase your sales and profits, you must know what you have to do before, during and after the sale.

Before the sale
Before the sale you must decide what you sell (in terms of the result your clients will get); who wants what you sell and who can afford to pay for it (your target market); how you will contact prospects and clients; and how you will impress them.

Remember, people want to deal with you for only one of two reasons: the perception they have of you or the relationship you build with them. To build a positive, solid perception, determine what will impress your target market. Do you need to have an article published to impress them? Do you need to develop a different networking group? Do you need to present yourself differently? Don't try to look successful and then pull out a 50-cent pen to record their information.

During and after the sale
During the sale your most important goal is to establish trust. You do this by asking your prospects good questions and listening to the answers. Then, analyze their risks and present feedback the way they want to receive it.

After the sale you need to stay in touch with your clients. I call this staying married to them. One way to stay married to your clients is to surprise them, just as I was surprised some years ago when I went shopping for a new car.

The difference between a bribe and a gift is where it happens in the sales process.

I decided to buy a Lexus. I bought it because the salesman built a relationship with me. He found out what I wanted from a car and then showed me how a Lexus would give it to me.

He also demonstrated that I couldn’t spend another dollar on the car even if I wanted to. It already had a CD player and an eight-speaker sound system. It even came with a pair of gloves in case the tire needed changing. He also explained Lexus’ toll-free, 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week, 365-day-a-year service number. Yet it was when I took delivery of my new car that unusual things started to happen.

When I handed over the check, and he handed over the keys, my new friend the salesman gave me two CDs so I could listen to some music on the way home. I then remembered that he had asked me what kind of music I like when I took the test drive. Next, he produced a basket of goodies—wine, cheese and nibbles to celebrate with my family when I got home.

Adding value
Why was I impressed? Because it was completely unexpected.

It probably cost the manager $100, but do you think it would have had the same impact if he’d given me $100 off the price of the car? Of course not. He added value and used the element of surprise.

Not only was I impressed; I’ve probably told this story 100 times as well. It didn’t stop there. A month later I received an automobile club membership. A month after that I received a membership to the arts center. I heard from them every month for ages. When my car needed service, they picked it up and left me a spotless current-model loaner car. And when my car was returned, it was gleaming. I became a walking advertisement for Lexus.

What do you think happened when he asked me for referrals?

Are you building relationships with your clients? Do they talk about you the way I talk about Lexus? Do you thank your clients in a tangible way—at the right time? The difference between a bribe and a gift is where it happens in the sales process.

None of this is rocket science. However, businesses that manage the profit factors—such as what impresses their clients—are always increasing their profits.

This is an edited excerpt of a longer speech given at the 2004 Million Dollar Round Table annual meeting. Printed with permission from MDRT. All rights reserved.

Michael J. Harrison is a 19-year MDRT member with five Court of the Table and nine Top of the Table qualifications. After building one of Australia’s most successful life agencies, he ran Zurich’s Australian life insurance business, growing it by more than 700 percent in four years.


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