Strictly for Sales
Selling by the Numbers
BY TOM REILLY
“By the numbers” is an idiom with a two-hundred year
history. It reaches back to The Revolutionary War training
of soldiers on the use of their bayonets. Today, it means
by the book, according to procedures, rules, customs, or
convention. We paint by numbers, dance by numbers,
coach by numbers, dress by numbers, and even play music
by numbers. People in the training business write and
speak by the numbers. You can even sell by the numbers.
We have a by-the-numbers formula for most things.
People like a by-the-numbers approach. It’s easy. Simple.
Organized. There is no planning, just execution. Someone
else has already done the heavy lifting of organizing. A
by-the-numbers approach gives people confidence. They
feel a sense of control. By the numbers sounds like a proven
methodology. Selling by the numbers offers all of these
benefits. A handful of numerical devices give us a roadmap
for success in sales. This list of numbers will help you sell
Plan every sales call. A seminar attendee once challenged
me on this, “Are you saying that I should plan every call?” I
responded, “No, plan just those calls where you want to sell
something.” He got the message. Every call means all calls.
This is 100 percent of your sales calls. Call this planning-by-the-numbers: What is your call objective? What questions
will you ask? What benefits will you stress? How will you
ask for the business?
When you probe, gather as much information as possi-
ble. Eighty-percent of your questions must be open-ended.
They begin with why, how, what, and tell me about. These
questions encourage customers to speak freely. It gives
them the opportunity to volunteer any information they
think is important. If you ask open-ended questions, be prepared to listen patiently. Listen twice as much as you talk.
This means you must spend at least two-thirds your time on
a sales call listening to the customer. Call this probing-and-listening-by-the-numbers.
Close on every call. Again, every call means all calls. Closing is achieving your call objective, whatever that objective may be — whether it is to get a follow-up meeting,
financial information, or a firm order. At the end of each
sales call, ask the buyer for something. You do this with
an opinion question and a commitment question. “What
do you think?” (Pause) “Where would you like to go from
here?” Call this closing-by-the numbers.
Make sure that you sell all three dimensions of value:
your product, your company, and you. This is a story only
you can tell. The same product, from the same company,
from two different salespeople is two different solutions
altogether. This meaningful uniqueness makes you stand
out. Most salespeople fail to differentiate their offerings.
Present your benefits using the 2-3-1 model. This is
sandwiching your least compelling argument between your
second most compelling and most compelling argument.
Lead with your second strongest selling point, and finish
with your strongest selling point. Offer proof to back up
your argument. Proof and meaningful uniqueness increase
your odds of success by 53 percent.
Give the buyer three compelling reasons to buy. Studies have shown that three points are ideal. Two are not
enough, and four are redundant. What would happen
if you compressed your presentation into the three most
important things about your solution? Call this presenting-by-the-numbers.
Remember, selling is relationship management. Our
studies have found that 79 percent of your success depends
on your personal relationships with customers. You build
relationships with trust. Trust comes from your delivering
on your promises and looking out for the customers’ best
interests. Buyers must feel that you have their backs. As far
as I know, Theodore Roosevelt was never a salesperson, but
he had great advice for salespeople. He said, “People don’t
care how much you know until they know how much you
care.” Call this relationship-building-by-the numbers.
When examining your sales pipeline, use this formula:
1- 2-4. For every immediate opportunity, have two intermediate opportunities, and four long-term opportunities.
Another way to view this is that for every imminent opportunity, have two pending and four possible opportunities. For every red-hot prospect, have two prospects, and
four suspects. Based on national closing ratios, this will help
you maintain a balanced pipeline. Call this managing-your-pipeline-by-the-numbers.
Selling-by-the-numbers is your road map for sales success. Do one thing, then another, and then another. At the
end of the process, you will find that you have succeeded
by the numbers.
Tom Reilly is a professional speaker and author. You may
contact him at www.TomReilly Training.com.