Sales guru John Fenton has a simple message ­ motivated and trained sales staff can make a huge difference to the bottom line Accentuating the positive It is the belief of John Fenton, self made millionaire and professed Billy Graham of Selling', that "selling is the most important job in the world". The economic climate, he points out, ultimately rests in the hands of sale staff throughout the whole of industry. Fenton says the nature of business is irrelevant ­ he believes his all embracing philosophy applies to any type of business, and that with motivational and effective training, the fortunes of any company can be greatly enhanced. Fenton explains: "Effective training is the backbone of industry and should be looked upon as an investment. And a successful company will be headed by an individual who is trained to be focused, honest and open." Sharing the direction and ambition of the company with the workforce ensures that staff, whatever their position, are all aiming for the same ultimate goal. Spiralling customer demands can perpetuate problems, but this shouldn't be the case according to Fenton. "Weed out the complacent, replace with the challenge hungry. A staggering amount of business can be lost simply because the customer feels that he is being taken for granted. "In order to maintain and proliferate, suppliers must stay one step ahead of the customer. Bigger, better, faster is nothing to be ashamed of. It's what business is all about." According to Fenton, this can be achieved by a technique called Renovation Rate. Essentially, this involves an assessment of the rate a customer utilises your product or service, thus enabling you to accurately predict and secure future business. In today's economic climate, negotiation skills need to be finely tuned on the behalf of buyer and seller alike. The buyer needs to believe he is getting the best of both worlds, awesome customer service and a cost effective product. The seller needs to believe in his company/product and be enthusiastic about it. This will be apparent and will be welcomed. Fenton simplifies this process with a theory called the Negotiating Zip. In summary, a negotiator should never open with a negative, but should always open with an area of mutual agreement, therefore providing a positive platform for further business opportunities. The way questions are posed is important. They need to invite the customer to participate in the conversation rather than just sit and listen. Some of the best negotiators are the best listeners. Do not be afraid of those pregnant pauses. Let the prospective client fill the gaps and above all take notice of what is being said, urges Fenton But not everything in a negotiation scenario may need the gift for the gab. An insight into body language can tell you when the deal is ready to be closed, or when the person in front of you (whether buying or selling) is still deliberating the offer on the table. Different personalities prefer different approaches with subtle nuances that need to be studied with care. As an example, an executive leans forward, strokes his chin and looks directly at the sales person ­ don't miss this one, he is waiting for you to take the order. Presentations need to be planned with military precision, but the most important part of any negotiation is the close. If you can't close, you can't sell. By not closing, you are effectively selling for the competition. You have basically given your prospective customer the chance to approach another organisation for your product or service. Fenton offers a variety of closing techniques. These include Alternative Choice Closure which involves presenting the customer with two options to finalise the deal. Fenton also highlights the validity of the Concession Closure, and Fear Closure which is not a threat but leaves the customer concerned that an opportunity has been missed. In addition to these techniques, Fenton continually stresses the importance of Verbal Proof in the form of referrals from existing customers. To sum up, Fenton urges companies to view sales as a professional vocation and treat it as such ­ it is the very backbone of business which needs investment in its structure and people. John Fenton will be holding three National Sales Conventions in spring 1998. North (Manchester), Central (Birmingham), and South (London Heathrow). {{MISCELLANEOUS }}