Like boxing, selling is a contact sport; in both professions triumph depends on strategic, repetitive and effective connects with another person. While the contact is relational and psychological for the salesperson, like a boxer, salespeople should consider each contact with a client a punch designed to wear down the customer’s defenses so that he is open to the final knockout blow.
The best boxers in history are strategists, chess players, scientists – always looking for what works. And the best salespeople are the same way.
Boxers train to win by repeatedly practicing their specific techniques, such as jabs, uppercuts, hooks and crosses. Once elite boxers can throw these punches with precision, they can counter anything thrown at them. The punches become unconscious — effortless.
Likewise, sales training should emphasize that salespeople repeat the basics in order to achieve the same level of mastery. Learn your different closes cold. Practice handling any objection with a few counters. You get the idea.
Perfect your version of the following sales techniques and no matter the client, you’ll be able to achieve a TKO.
The “Jab”: First Contact
In boxing, the jab is a fast and basic no-nonsense punch, much like the first contact with a prospect. This punch isn’t designed to land the prospect on the mat. It merely kicks off the relationship and allows the salesperson to see how interested the prospect may be. This contact can be:
-A cold call
-A casual meeting
During this initial contact, the salesperson should:
-Build camaraderie by emphasizing anything you might have in common with your prospect, including a friend or reference.
-Reveal key factors about yourself that will convey authority, expertise and friendliness.
-Seek information from the client to understand his needs better.
-Extend an invitation for the next contact, which will be in-person and more involved.
If the prospect doesn’t respond favorably to a first contact, it may be necessary to throw a few more basic jabs: send another email, call again, reach out and befriend on social media. Remember the principle of “12 touches to close a sale” and use some science behind it. As our friends at Inside Sales have found with a 10 year, 10 billion sales transaction database – there is a 27% higher chance a prospect will answer a call if it is raining. A 30% higher chance if the local sports team won night before. VoloHaus has many conversion optimizing techniques for you to try!
Since the first contact is a simple overture, avoid detailing products too extensively. Just like you shouldn’t go “all out” in the first 5 seconds of a fight, you should avoid assailing your buyer with pressure when you first meet them.
The goal is not to go for the kill on the first contact, but merely to establish a foundation. Focus, therefore, on personal connection and creating an opening for your next “punch.”
The “Cross”: The Informal Face-to-Face Meeting
A cross punch is more potent than a jab, and since it’s done with the rear fist, the opponent might not immediately see it coming. Hint: this is not a direct sales meeting. It’s a persuasive icebreaker.
The goal is to build trust with the prospect and increase his confidence in your ability to be an asset. If you do have professional associates in common, this meeting is the perfect time to bring them along to strengthen your reputation, further put the client at ease and make him trust you by association.
At this contact:
-Develop the relationship.
-Make lots of eye contact.
-Mirror body language and tone.
-Make small talk. But beneficial to them, in some way.
-Share a meal or a drink. Always pay – theory of reciprocity.
-Chat about the prospect’s current business concerns.
-Tour the business, if possible.
-Mention company products that may address prospect’s issues.
-Arrange for a formal sales presentation for the prospect and any other interested decision-makers.
-Emphasize how you’ve provided solutions for similar prospects
-Bring some ideas and solutions. Best practices, metrics, etc.
-Allow any common associates in attendance to provide their own testimonies.
Sales training experts recommend that in-person meetings be arranged no more than three days after the prospect agrees to meet.
The “Hook”: The Formal Presentation
In boxing, the hook is a dazzling punch that involves a circular path. It is only used once you get close enough to the opponent and often catches them by surprise.
In sales as in boxing, the “hook” comes after you have already closed the distance and are ready to really engage with the buyer. Now is the time to show the multimedia presentation built on client needs. Lay it on and impress with product features, service-based benefits, solutions that address specific dilemmas, comparisons to competitors, and research.
If the client is not ready to close after a formal presentation, continue hooking him by send additional information, including white papers and customized data specifically for his company.
The “Uppercut”: Hammering Objections Out of the Way
Thrown straight upward, an uppercut can be vicious, but it is very direct, very forceful and makes the opponent vulnerable.
When you hit a block to closing, it’s time to pull out the upper cut. Using strategies practiced over and over from your sales training, directly confront the customer about what is preventing him from agreeing to close and be prepared to negotiate.
Hesitations could arise from budget (pricing), timing, concerns about service or quality, the lack of a feature, etc. There are a million reasons NOT to close — most based on fear. It is your job to perfect your “uppercut” answers and knock the fear out of the way.
The “Knockout” Punch: The Closing
There are dozens of angles from which to deliver a final knockout blow. Most boxers have two or three favorite punches, and you should likewise fully master two or three closing techniques, even basic ones such as:
-The “assumptive” close, where your speech and actions assume the customer is on board for closing and your confident momentum makes it impossible for the customer to resist.
-The “bracket close,” where you present the customer with three options, making the one in the middle the most enticing.
-The “bonus” close, which involves the offer of one last and special extra inclusion if the customer has been very close to closing but throws up just that final bit of seemingly insurmountable resistance.
Approaching sales training as a boxer will enable you to excel at each level of contact. Don’t just aim to do a serviceable job; aim to be an elite and infallible like a champion.
This takes constant practice. Don’t buy into the myth of the “natural” who just charms his way into every sale. Natural talent and charisma are important, but without the skills to back them up, you won’t get far.
Develop them, and you too can one day shout “I AM THE GREATEST,” like Ali!