Author and speaker Brian Robinson shares the selling formula that became the key principles to his sales success. Keep reading to find out more.
In this article:
- What Is Sales Malpractice?
- Why We Suffer from Sales Malpractice
- The Selling Formula: How You Can Overcome Sales Malpractice
- Example of Feature-Benefit Question Series
- How You Can Effectively Connect with Prospects Through Your Questions
- How to Have the Right Pre-Call Mindset
- The Important Question You Should Not Forget to Ask
- Key Takeaways on the Selling Formula
Selling Formula Approach: Best Practices for Sales Success
Brian Robinson is a sales and marketing expert, best-selling author, and coach. He wrote a book called The Selling Formula: 5 Steps for Instant Sales Improvement.
Robinson started out with Coca-Cola Corporate, where he worked in direct competition with Pepsi. After his stint there, he transferred to J&J.
There, he became part of four different divisions, three of which were startups in sales and marketing. Afterward, Robinson helped his friend start a company and began his own entrepreneurial journey.
What Is Sales Malpractice?
According to Robinson, the simple definition of “sales malpractice” is “showing up and throwing up” — an idea that came from his years working with Johnson & Johnson.
Salespeople typically like to rush to the presentation. When you combine that with the failure to ask appropriate questions, you ultimately perform sales malpractice.
You aren’t able to dig deeper and know your prospect better. Some salespeople only ask one or two questions, then suddenly launch into a discussion about “the answer.”
Salespeople like this leave their prospects thinking, but end without asking the prospect anything that relates to them.
Why We Suffer from Sales Malpractice
Why, then, do salespeople struggle with sales malpractice? Most of the time, they already know what to do when they get to the presentation — it’s familiar, so they’ve got it nailed down.
Yet what’s unfamiliar and uncharted is developing a relationship and holding a conversation with someone they probably haven’t talked to before. Not knowing how to respond to these can lead to sales malpractice.
Robinson said a salesperson can overcome this struggle by doing two things:
- Plan the questions you’re going to ask.
- Methodically ask the questions to your prospect.
According to him, you get astonishing results if you do proper planning.
Preparation takes away the fear and helps you be upfront with your prospect. As you have holistic questions to ask your prospect, you’ll also be able to take note of their answers to your questions.
The Selling Formula: How You Can Overcome Sales Malpractice
Robinson shared with us his two-part selling formula. The first part is the pre-call mindset.
The best way to have a positive pre-call mindset is to take some time to yourself before you meet your prospect. During that time, cultivate a caring attitude in your heart and mind for that person.
Visualize the positive outcome you’re going to have. When you meditate on these things, you project them on your prospect when you meet them personally or talk to them on the phone.
The second part is crafting questions. Robinson found that there is a three-part selling formula approach here that really works.
First, you take a piece of paper and draw three columns on it. You can also make a spreadsheet and create three columns.
Second, label each column. The first column is “Features,” where you list down the key features of what you’re selling.
In the second column, write down every benefit related to that specific feature. Often, there are multiple benefits associated with a feature.
In the third column, write questions related to that specific benefit.
Third, take an 80/20 approach. This means taking the top 20% of the benefits and the key questions associated with those, then putting them in order.
Start with the general questions first then move to the very specific ones that focus on those benefits.
Example of Feature-Benefit Question Series
In order to understand the proper way of crafting questions, Robinson shared with us an example of feature-benefit question series. This came from his Selling Formula book.
For instance, you’re selling pre-made home-cooked meals.
The feature is pre-made home-cooked meals for two to six people. This is what you put in the first column.
Then, in the second column, there are two benefits:
- It saves up to 60 minutes per meal — including food purchase, food prep, and cooking time.
- You only have to take it out of the freezer and put it in the oven.
There are then three questions related to those benefits:
- On a weekly basis, how many dinners do you cook for your family?
- How much time does it typically take you to make dinner for your family?
- How would pre-made home-cooked meals affect the frequency of your family meals?
The third question targets the prospect’s emotions. These questions aim to discover if the benefits would be advantageous or helpful to the prospect.
How You Can Effectively Connect with Prospects Through Your Questions
Most people tend to stop at the first or second-level questions. Yet it takes more than those to get the most important information and create a deeper connection.
You must aim to know how your offer affects the personal lives of your prospects.
Robinson told us about one of his clients who creates video content for real estate agents. He used to follow the typical question approach, but then he switched to Robinson’s selling formula.
After doing so, the client called Robinson to share the outcome. He went two to three levels deeper with his questions.
The client admitted that this made him a little uncomfortable, as he wasn’t used to it. Then he started asking his prospect, “If you had leads coming in that you normally weren’t getting, what would this do for your quality of life? How would this affect your family life and work?”
As a result, even before their conversation was over, his prospect was already very keen to do business with him. This led him to the biggest sale of his life.
This is all because he was able to take his questions a step further.
We can simply ask questions. Yet when we take it one step deeper and get into the personal aspect, it solidifies the seller-prospect relationship.
How to Have the Right Pre-Call Mindset
Robinson also expounded on the other part of his selling formula, the pre-call mindset. He recommended practical steps that lead to the right mindset before meeting or talking to a prospect.
First, take a few minutes to think about the prospect you’ll talk to. Think about the kind of day that person is having.
Focus on how much you appreciate the fact that your prospect is going to connect with you. Robinson said he also thanks the Lord for his prospects and says a short prayer over the conversation they will have.
When the time comes for you to talk, you’ll be in a mental state that’s ready to serve your prospect. Then you can figure out ways of how you can help, as opposed to being self-serving.
This kind of attitude diffuses awkwardness and stalls in relationships. It brings down so many barriers, and yet it’s still not the normal pre-call strategy for most salespeople.
Robinson also went on to share the most critical question he asks at a front-end of a conversation: “Have you had to put out any fires today?”
This question immediately puts the focus on the prospect. Once you get that out on the open and diffuse it, your prospect can begin focusing on what they’re going to talk about with you.
The Important Question You Should Not Forget to Ask
One of the most important questions you can ask a prospect is, “Is there anything about your current situation you feel frustrated about or wish you can change?”
Robinson said this is a huge question that salespeople often forget to ask.
This inquiry makes prospects take a moment to reflect and go through their current situation. When they acknowledge their frustrations by verbalizing them, it gives you an opportunity to ask probing questions.
Key Takeaways on the Selling Formula
- Don’t rush to the presentation.
- Prepare holistic questions. Create a list and ask your prospect for permission to ask questions. This puts you in a position of authority and prepares them to answer.
- Take notes on your prospects’ answers. Doing that conveys they’re offering you something of value. In turn, you’ll deepen your connection with your prospect.
If you want to avail Brian Robinson’s free gift, you can visit his website and download the first three chapters of his audible book for free.
Having a customer-centered pre-call mindset and questions really prepares you to serve your prospects and clients. With the right preparation, you will be able to give them a better experience and service.
If you want to see a difference in your selling experience, follow Brian Robinson’s selling formula. His fresh ideas may just be the kind of revamp your best selling practices need.
Which selling practices do you think you can improve? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!