This is the first of a series about successful salespeople. How they did it and what principles they followed.
“A major sale is really a series of little sales,” says Jim Eberhardt. “You must get the prospect to agree along the way.” Sales success and Jim Eberhardt. They have a lot in common.
Jim Eberhardt sells insurance – arguably the toughest sale. His company, 1st International Benefits, has been the number one ranked agency for the Banner Insurance Company for seven straight years. Leading by example, Eberhardt was the leading salesperson for the entire Banner organization for three years. That rules out luck as one of the reasons for his success.
What makes one salesperson rise above the others? Philosophy, attitude, action and (measurable) results. I had the pleasure of meeting with Jim Eberhardt at his home in Dallas.
Here are some of the philosophies, principles, and strategies that have led (driven) him to success:
What is sales? The most challenging, exciting, personally fulfilling, and financially rewarding profession in the world.
Definition of the word sale. Selling is effective communication with a purpose. It occurs any time you get the prospect’s decision in your favor.
The big difference. The difference between a high pressure salesperson and professional salesperson. High pressure people only think about commission, professionals care more about their prospect’s needs.
Basis of selling. The laws and rules of selling have remained the same for decades. The reason some people succeed and most people fail is that they apply the laws (and themselves) unprofessionally.
Selling is not just telling. It’s asking about and qualifying needs.
Dedication to serve. Never quit on your commitment to serve and deliver what you’ve promised.
Speak to be understood. It’s never important what you say, it’s what others hear and what they do with what they hear.
Listening is more important than talking. (Eberhardt considers poor listening skills to be the number one fault of salespeople.) Salespeople are too busy thinking about themselves and their own words, rather than their prospect and their words.
Eberhardt gave me Einstein’s magic listening formula for sales success. X+Y+Z=SUCCESS. X = Hard work. Y = Hard play. Z = Knowing when to keep your mouth shut.
The importance of building the right rapport. There’s a time to stop the rapport process, and segue into the presentation. Knowing precisely when and how can make or break the tone and the spirit of the presentation.
Put Magic into your presentation. Make the prospect feel special. Make the prospect feel important. Make the prospect feel you are prepared to meet his/her individual needs.
Ask for the prospect’s opinion. It will tell you if a sale is near or far.
Create desire by speaking the prospect’s words back to them. Remind them of their dominant buying motive, and how your product will help solve a problem or get them what they want.
Paint word pictures. Start with the word “imagine,” and paint the picture necessary for the prospect to visualize the solution to the situation or need that has been raised.
Follow the wisdom of your mentor. Everybody needs a mentor. Eberhardt’s are the legendary salesmen Willie Gayle and J. Douglas Edwards. He showed me a book by Gayle written in 1959 entitled, Power Selling. “I used it as a guideline to establishing winning principles and strategies,” said Eberhardt. “For the first few years of my selling career, I read from it every day.”
Eberhardt has style and lifestyle. He is a classic car enthusiast (has a personal collection of 37 cars – almost a museum). He is a pilot. Not just a Sunday flyer, Jim owns and flies an ISKRA (Russian built) jet plane that flies faster than the speed of sound. He also owns and flies a Pitts Special aerobatic plane with precision. Eberhardt lives as he sells – with passion.
My interview would not have been complete until I asked Eberhardt about his best closing technique. “There is no close,” he said, “Only the beginning of a long lasting and enduring relationship. That’s the heart of selling.” Heart. Eberhardt.
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