Investigative Selling: How to Master the Art, Science & Skills of Professional Selling

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9780757002854: Investigative Selling: How to Master the Art, Science & Skills of Professional Selling

Within each super salesperson is an expert detective as skilled as Sherlock Holmes. Now, Omar Periu, nationally renowned “high energy” sales trainer, provides readers with the secrets of becoming a top sales professional through investigative selling techniques. The author not only details vital skills, but also explains the most effective way to apply these proven techniques to a range of sales activities, from prospecting to presenting to closing.

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About the Author:

Omar Periu came to the United States at age seven after fleeing Cuba with his family. By age thirtyone, he owned a chain of profitable health clubs and sports medicine facilities. Now, he is a popular lecturer and workshop leader.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Introduction

My Inspiration for Investigative Selling

For over twenty years, I have been fighting a battle with the salespeople I’ve been training in my businesses. As I now conduct training for companies all around the world, I continue to fight the same battle with potentially good salespeople just like you. The battle is in helping each salesperson to reach his or her peak performance, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. That’s when selling becomes fun; when you are consistently outperforming your own expectations. Don’t we all want to do more of what we do best? The better your sales performance, the more you’ll sell. The more you sell, the more success and happiness you will experience.

It’s a chain reaction―positive action promotes positive feelings promotes more positive action.

In the beginning of my sales and management days, not only was I experiencing a battle over how to teach selling skills that bring about consistently positive actions, but the battle was quickly escalating into a full-fledged war as well. The need to improve selling skills was the battle; the war was much more difficult to identify and win. It was a war in the salesperson’s own mind. Because my salespeople shared with me their frustrations in establishing ongoing, consistent success, I decided it was time to evaluate the source of their frustration and find a teachable solution. That’s exactly what I’m going to share with you in this book: How I won the battle and how you can too!

Consistency Was Critical

I needed to create a fresh strategy to form a mold that salespeople could fit themselves into and, in doing so, experience immediate and consistent success in sales. I got to thinking about the salespeople who were thought of as “naturals.” They all had certain characteristics that gave them consistent positive end results. That’s exactly how Investigative Selling was born―right out of the needs of the salespeople I train!

Getting into character! That was the key! I would encourage the salespeople to get into character. I had quite a bit of experience on stage―acting and singing―and realized that the same stage training could be applied to salespeople.

When I discovered how well the Principles of Investigative Selling worked, I decided to write a book on the subject and make teaching those principles my number-one goal. What would I accomplish? I’d win the war! I’d help salespeople to consistently act and feel like the professionals I knew they could become.

First things first, though. I had to discover what created the inconsistencies. I began to ask questions, listen, observe, and take notes in order to solve the problem of what made some salespeople outstanding performers while others appeared to work just as hard and get nowhere. Every day for five and a half years I would ask myself the question, “What did superstar salespeople do, or not do, that separated them from those who were average performers?” My research continued, and for two decades, I have observed the industry greats and listened to their messages. I have attended hundreds of seminars and watched and listened to every audio/video tape I could find on sales. I have read hundreds of books and recorded every detailed technique, no matter how seemingly insignificant, in order to discover the specific sales methods and strategies that separated the exceptional from the average.

I was focused on a mission―a mission to gather information on every aspect of sales and find solutions for every type of selling situation. As I gathered the information to write this book, it became apparent to me that I was also practicing the exact skills necessary to become a highly successful salesperson. I was asking questions, listening, observing, taking notes, problem solving, discovering new closes, and practicing effective follow-up. I was acting as an investigator! I also came to the realization that adopting this style is what I had been doing all along in my selling career, and it worked.

Telling when you should be asking is one of the easiest habits

to fall into and the most difficult to break.

One of the most important keys to successful selling I discovered was that almost all salespeople had a natural tendency to tell, not ask. Sound familiar? If this sounds like you, you’re keeping company with many other salespeople who have leveled off in their production and feel forever stuck in mediocrity. The challenge when you’re telling is that you are not discovering all the things that can most benefit your customers.

In this book, you will learn a method of control or, as I prefer to call it, a method of mastery. This mastery is not new in theory but is, for many salespeople, very new in practice. The theory is called “self-mastery.” Sure, average salespeople usually understand that they need to learn about their profession, but in that learning process, the two most important things commonly overlooked are:

            1.         Mastering the fundamentals of sales.

            2.         Understanding the need for mastering yourself.

You may be asking “What do you mean by that, Omar―that we will manage the sale by first managing ourselves?” Exactly!

Doesn’t “mastery” mean the same as “control”? There is a world of difference between mastery and control. The average salesperson will attempt to establish control and self-importance through nonstop talking. That is the kiss of death in sales. The first thing you must learn to do is master your own actions.

Choose to be as good a listener as you are a talker. Master your selling situations by mastering yourself. Make up your mind in the very beginning to do much more asking than telling!

During my sales seminars, I found myself spending the majority of my time trying to get salespeople to limit their talking, and training them to ask insightful questions and gather important information instead. It was my goal to convince salespeople to focus most of their attention on being active listeners. Although salespeople heard my message and practiced these skills for a while, the natural pattern seemed to slowly fall back into talking rather than listening. They did master their actions; unfortunately, their habitual actions were the ticket for a quick exit in selling and an income far below what salespeople are capable of attaining.

By learning better selling skills, by thinking and acting like an investigator, my own personal production and the performance of those I was training grew to limitless proportions. Not only did the performance levels of my people continually go up, but they were also able to sustain their best sales performance peaks.

This is what Investigative Selling does for you. It allows you to maintain consistently high levels of production. No more peaks and valleys in sales, or better yet, no more burned out feelings of total failure. That is my purpose for writing this book, to teach you to set aside your natural tendency to tell instead of ask. In the process, you’ll become a superstar salesperson all the time, not just during one or two high points every sales quarter.

Being an investigator is a “slump-proof” method of selling!

Assuming a character is not a new concept. It’s something we’ve all known how to do since childhood. Do you remember playing “pretend” games when you were a child? Everyone has at one time or another. You may have taken on the characters of your favorite television hero or a sports figure. Perhaps you even pretended being another member of your family. Girls often pretend being “mommy,” while boys pretend filling their dad’s shoes. When we grow up, many of us forget how much fun it was portraying someone else. Some of us, however, continue the magic through theater or singing opportunities and it can prove to be a great advantage.

When I was young, I trained to be a professional opera singer. In the opera, singing and acting requires much more from you than just learning lines and staying on key. To deeply move the audience, you have to really get into the song and live the part until you become the person in that particular piece of music. It is no longer a pretense but, instead, you are in a changed state. You have taken on new traits, feelings, and actions in this new state. To make your part come to life for your audience, you must become the part. True top performers draw on their own experiences, causing them to feel and act the same way as the characters they portray.

Believe it or not, you can apply the same principles to becoming an outstanding salesperson. How?

The role of investigator is really very simple to assume. Think about it: You’ve grown up watching this role played by dozens of people who all adopt the same characteristics. They all ask questions. They all search for facts and information, and in the end, with a lot of hard work and determination, they solve the case.

Get into character. Just like the great singers, actors, and actresses who move their audiences, you can get into the character of a great investigative salesperson and move your customers to own your product and service.

What I have learned, and what I teach, is the importance of becoming a warm and friendly fact-gathering professional who listens to answers and takes notes. I have learned the value of being a salesperson who leaves no stone unturned to discover any clue that will help the customer. How did I do this? I got into character and became the investigative salesperson. I asked questions! I soon discovered the only way I could learn while I was talking was if my words were in the form of a question.The following story illustrates how my sales career skyrocketed to a level I’d only dreamed of achieving, simply by becoming an investigator. Here is the story of my experiences and how some of those experiences influenced my selling career.

Early in life, I felt all the odds were against me. I was born in Cuba, but was brought to the United States at the age of seven. It was 1961, and communism in Cuba was closing in on successful businessmen like my father who prospered by doing business with American-owned companies. My father knew that Castro’s propaganda about the evil Americans was not only a lie, but would also end up crippling the Cuban economy and the spirit of its people. There was nothing left for my father to do but plan his family’s escape to America.

 Although I remember very little about our secret flight to Miami, I do recall the fear in my mother’s eyes as we left my father behind, telling our neighbors we were taking a short visit to friends. We couldn’t take the chance to leave as a family for fear we would be detained and Castro would discover our plan. Communism not only destroyed our financial security, but also threatened to take my father’s life. Circumstances had dealt my parents a terrible blow, but they chose to turn their loss into one of life’s great lessons for themselves and their children. 

My parents’ journey was a long one to freedom, and it was then that I learned one of the most important lessons in my life. Free enterprise is rarely free! It had cost my father his business and successful career, my mother her home, and all of us our friends and family.

As it turned out, I was very blessed! My father did not give up! Instead, he got out of Cuba, following us to Miami several weeks later. We were poor, but safely deposited on American soil. To this day, I thank God for St. Patrick’s Church, which sponsored our family and welcomed us to the United States. It was a stressful time for all of us and those early years in America were tough on everyone, but I always felt protected by the love of my mother and father and their reassurance that we would find happiness.

Going to school in a country where you can’t speak the language came with its own set of special opportunities. To most of my schoolmates, I appeared to have nothing. My father taught me otherwise. He taught me to be a winner! The more he reinforced my ability to achieve, the more I did just that. When I wanted to win the 100-yard dash or become the number-one weight lifter in my school, my father told me stories of the long line of men in our family who were the fastest and the strongest in all of Cuba. He gave me a precious gift―an unwavering belief in my abilities to succeed, no matter what. He instilled in me the true spirit of a super salesperson.

I hope to achieve with you what my father did with me―creating that “I will succeed” belief in yourself that refuses to be compromised by hardships and temporary failures. I didn’t even recognize the importance of what my father was teaching me back then, so distracted was I by rejection, failure, and countless disappointments.

I am no smarter than you, but I have learned to use my skills and take massive action in order to get the best return on my time and efforts. Do you give up or get up? I chose, like my father before me, to get up, but I must admit to a stumble or two before getting my bearings.

If you have great personal difficulties that sometimes get in the way

of your success, you have two choices:

  1. You can choose to let them burden you and inhibit your performance

  2. You can choose to rise above the occasion and follow your dreams.

One stumbling point was when I was nineteen years old; I felt my future slipping away. Suddenly all my plans had gone awry. I was studying voice performance at Southern Illinois University. Halfway into my third year, my father suffered a serious heart attack. There was no question about it: I flew home to be by his side and offer him the love and encouragement he desperately needed. Having been away from school for a few weeks, my return to the university was less than the welcoming home of the prodigal son. Professors had already administered and graded finals, and they were none too excited about the prospect of make-up examinations. I was just another kid who had his whole life ahead of him. What was a six-month delay going to hurt?

To them, six months was nothing; to me, it was a lifetime. I wasn’t about to lose that time, so I decided to show them. I quit school! Looking back I realize it was a big mistake. I’ve always regretted not staying in school and getting my degree. I guess there are few people who could say they have lived their lives with no regrets. One thing I’ve done, however, is learn from that mistake. I help others do the same by speaking to students around the country on the importance of staying in school. Instead of dwelling on the negatives, I choose to move forward and be productive. In sales, we must practice that same principle.

Dropping out of college solved nothing; it only served to make me depressed, desperate for money, and incredibly angry! Forget it, I thought! I would save some money and go to California...

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