Monkeys Paw is a sales training company with an emphasis on building relationships rather than winning short-term deals. Its founder is Oliver Dax and he was at 12 Hay Hill on Thursday, November 22nd to talk to a keen Like Minds Business Breakfast audience about selling without being ‘salesy’.

Oliver has spent almost 30 years in a B2B sales sharing the things that work best in writing business. He prefaced the meat of his presentation with a little audience participation. “Without thinking, shout out the word that comes to mind when I say ‘salesman’.”

Needless to say, none of the words called out were very positive. “Pushy” was perhaps the least impolite. Given that the audience was made up of business people who need to sell to succeed, this was telling. This exposure of our innate dislike of the salesman term gave Oliver the gateway into how to be a better salesperson – without being THAT type of salesperson.

Sales start with a process; selling needs to be process driven. And Oliver’s process has eight steps. As important as each step is, of equal importance is the stop and go sign at the end of each step. You don’t move on to the next step unless you have a ‘go’: it is crucial to take the client with you on the journey.

Successful Sales in Eight Steps

Step 1: Preparation and research
This step is where you prepare the foundations on which to build the relationship. Find out not only about the company you are visiting but as much as you can about the individuals who will be sitting across from you in that meeting.

How? Split your research into three sections:

a. Check trade and local press and websites for Industry news and awards.

b. Think ahead about referrals by drilling down into LinkedIn connections and business partnerships, for instance, to have names ready to ask for introductions.

c. Try to build a profile of the person or people you’ll be meeting. Use the DISC matrix (Dominant, Influential, Steady, or Cautious). A Dominant type is about “let’s do it now” and focuses on the money. An Influential type wants to “do it together” and focuses on personal trust/friendship. The Steady type wants to “do it harmoniously” and is all about team benefits. Finally, the Cautious type wants to “do it right” and is all about risk avoidance and testimonials, etc. Identifying types before you meet them needs to be derived from clues in their social media and their LinkedIn profiles or their emails to you.

Step 2: Bonding
This is quite simply the conversational parallel to the research you’ve done. Your DISC profiling will give you some clues as to the best approach when talking, both in style and vocabulary.

Step 3: Parity
“Parity and clarity”. This is about making sure you establish a relationship of equals. One of the best ways to do this is

a. An agreed duration for the meeting and all diaries cleared

b. Everyone who needs to be there will be there

c. Clarity on their agenda for the meeting. What do they expect/want?

d. Minimise process drift by determining the one thing you need by the end of the meeting (specifying a time for a next call/action/meeting, for instance)

Step 4: Fact Find
Ask questions. You’ll need a range of question types, from drill downs to expansive statements and questions gauging urgency. Most important of all, though, is this balance: talk 30%, listen 70%.

Step 5: Budget
On the back of success in the first four steps – and you’ve established FAD (funds, authority, desire) – you can start wrapping up discussion of costs.

Step 6: Close
Many people get nervous when it comes to closing. If you’ve gone through all the previous steps, it should not be a major stress.

A key thing to avoid is what’s known as “assumptive closing”, where the salesperson simply pushes ahead as if the deal is already done and starts discussing colours and sizes and delivery dates. This has the whiff of deception about it and, as a result, risks losing any trust built up.

The most productive close is the indirect close. Be soft and consultative. Do a pre-close temperature check by asking the client where they think things are on a scale of 1 to 10. If you get a 7 or less, check – by asking – what you’ve missed. If you get an 8 and above, you’re almost there, which lets you ask, “what will get us to a 10?” They’ll usually tell you.

Step 7: Referral
The referral is almost more important than the business you’re going to write. Why? Well, if you win £1k business, that’s great. But… if you win that £1k and the client gives you another three names, you’re statistically going to convert two of those names and win another £2k of business, bringing the total to £3k. Much better.

It’s important not to wait for the sale before asking for referrals. If the bond is there, ask if there are others who would benefit from speaking to you. There is a 91% chance of a referral if you ask in the right way. But apparently, only 11% of salespeople ask for them. Oliver didn’t tell us how many of those asked in the right way.

Most important statistic of all: referrals have the highest rate of conversion (at 67%). Oliver suggested an exercise: go back to the office and make a list of your existing clients and then see how many you’ve asked for referrals.

Step 8: Account Management
The relationship only really begins at the sale. The task now is to nurture that relationship to dependency – but in a good way. You want to become the client’s go-to resource for everything connected to their business.

Coda
And those were the steps. A quick Q&A lasered in further on referrals and then it was time to refresh the coffee cups and do a bit more networking.

I left Oliver surrounded by audience members keen to ask further questions and slipped from Hay Hill luxury into the cold Mayfair morning. There was a sales meeting waiting for me…

Find out more at Monkey’s Paw