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Here’s how to take Manhattan — one sale at a time


Last week, I interviewed CS (I’ll refer to him by his initials), an experienced sales rep who sells copiers in New York City. I’m always interested in talking to successful salespeople. I want to learn what makes them successful. And so should you.

During this interview, we talked about sales techniques and sales presentations. I wanted to see how this guy sold.

The results will surprise you. And those results are contained in a two-part series that start with this week’s column and concludes next week. Both columns will be available on my Web site after the second one is published here.

Part one is about this salesman and the way he sells. It’s also about you and the way you sell. Part two focuses on me and the way I sell. Or better stated, the way I would sell copiers in New York City.

JG: Tell me a little bit about what you sell and how you sell it.

CS: I sell copiers and fax machines. I focus primarily on the copy side, mostly the high-ticket stuff. I rely very heavily on the relationships that I have developed with my clients over the years.

JG: Do you use them for a referral base or as a sales base to expand from within?

CS: A little bit of both. I rely heavily on referrals. I get a good amount of business from my base as well.

JG: Do you think they like you, or do you think they love you?

CS: I think people buy from people they like. In my case, my customers adore me.

JG: Do you think that Manhattan is a tough environment to sell in?

CS: I think that New York City is, on one hand, the toughest selling environment in the world, and on another hand, the easiest, because it offers the most opportunity.

JG: I think that every salesperson living anywhere should have a three-month internship in New York City to see what sales are really like.

CS: I agree with you.

JG: How do you qualify your leads to make the best use of your time and your follow-up time?

CS: I have a series of questions that I rely on, such as the type of equipment they may be using now, their volume and any unique needs. I almost do this as a reflex, because I’ve been doing it for so long.

JG: When you go in on a cold call or a first call, what is the first question you ask?

CS: I like to know I am dealing with the right point of contact. I like to ask what function they serve in their organization.

JG: Suppose they say, “I’m the office manager.”

CS: I ask them to tell me about their organization. I find that people like to talk about their interests and their company.

JG: How does it go from there?

CS: That is the beginning of establishing rapport. When I say, “Tell me a little bit about yourself or your organization,” I usually find something in their response that I can elaborate on. If I get the sense that I am being rushed or that the prospect wants to get down to business, then I will get down to business, and the questions become more direct.

JG: Give me an example of a direct question.

CS: Whose equipment are you using now? Are you satisfied with the equipment and the service? What’s the average response time? How often do the machines go down? Depending on whether I’m talking to someone who likes to talk, I’ll either move to close-ended questions or open-ended questions.

At this point, I was foaming at the brain with ideas and answers. Couldn’t contain myself any longer. I was like Popeye right after he had eaten a can of spinach.

If you want to know my responses and the ideas this successful salesman liked — and is now using — come back next week. Same sales time, same sales channel.

Agree? Disagree? Like his style? Challenge his style? Post your comments at www.gitomer.com under the heading Sales Help/Share Your Ideas.

Jeffrey Gitomer, author of “The Sales Bible” and “The Little Red Book of Selling,” is the president of Charlotte, N.C.-based Buy Gitomer. He gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings and conducts Internet training programs on selling and customer service at www.trainone.com. He can be reached by phone at (704) 333-1112 or by e-mail at salesman@gitomer.com.

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