Tom Hopkins, Sales God

Tom Hopkins, not so much a Sales Guru – more a Sales God!
Tom Hopkins
‘How To Master The Art Of Selling’ is an unashamed Airport Book, being very anecdotal and conversational in its approach. Yet this book was originally out in 1982. Any book that stands the test of time must surely be a classic.

It doesn’t really have a logical flow to it, but that surprisingly won’t bother the reader. All you need to do is open up at any page and read away until you get loads of ideas for your own daily sales grind.

The biggest single chunk of pages is devoted to Closing (about a sixth of the book). Unfortunately for me, I feel throughout the book, as much as a third would belong to what we today see as the self-help religion. If you accept this from the off, there are more than enough juicy selling tips to compensate for this.

It would be so easy to simply re-tread all Tom Hopkins’ ground here, so rather than waste this opportunity, here are the best bits that are either 1) ‘propriety’ nuggets that he appears the first to commit to paper, or 2) such fundamental, straightforward building blocks, you simply must be reminded of them.

  • “SPR”. This stands for Stimulus – Pause – Response. The concept is that salesreps all too often make the mistake of diving straight in with a response, the moment the prospect finishes a point (the stimulus). Aligned with this, is the fact that you cannot ‘wing it’. You must Practice, Drill & Rehearse.
  • Involvement Questions. Great questions to use, these are ones where the response from the prospect gets them talking about what they’ll be doing once they’ve bought, as they think as if they own the offering already.
  • People buy irrationally, and each take-up decision is 100% emotional. So, “don’t sell logical, arouse emotions”.
  • Avoid Rejection Words. Y’know the kind of trap here – you keep saying to prospects “it’ll cost you…”. The last thing they need to be told is that they have to physically part with cash! Tom Hopkins has some other worthy examples:
    Don’t say… instead, use…
  • There are only two tried and tested ways of selling more. Either improve your close ratios, or speak to more prospects.
  • It is essential to obtain the involvement and participation of prospects in sales. “A spectator sport buying is not”.
  • When pitching, say what you’re about to go through, go through it, then summarise what’s just been gone through.
  • Repetition sticks in. Don’t be afraid to hammer home something in this way.
  • The longest anecdote in the entire book runs to nearly five pages. And it’s a belter! It involves a fella who sold the author $240K of property, which in those days must have been awesome. It extols the virtues of Planning. Most salesreps avoid extra preparation activities. In the main, they are the losers.
  • “Qualification is the Key to Quota-Busting”.
  • It’s true many salesreps squirm when asked the bottom-line. There is a great little technique to get the money issue out in the open. It’s rather annoying title is “The Triplicate Of Choice For Money”, but don’t let that put you off. You actually mention 3 lots of figures.
    1. Begin by stating a figure 20% above your price.
    2. Then give a range from 50% to 100% above your price.
    3. Then give your actual price last.
    So, this is how it’ll sound:
    ‘most people are prepared to invest (+ 20%), a fortunate few can invest between (+50% & +100%), and then there are those that can’t go over (actual).’
    Which category does the prospect think of themselves in? And boy, have you got just the thing for that range!
  • There is a reminder that the most destructive silence can be the one where you fill the forms out in front of the prospect. Doing this in advance as much as possible would be the solution, although many salesreps are so superstitious can this catch on?!
  • He introduces his own “clutch of moneygrabbers” that you must keep on doing, which include, cultivate referrals, sell add-ons wherever you can, try different bundled options, and always re-contact old prospects.
  • Always keep on Closing. His own ‘research’ suggests even the greatest closers have to wait until their fifth atempt before getting the nod. I prefer to think by this he means, less that you keep on asking trite closing questions, but more that you are always heading towards what you want out of the transaction with your questioning.

Subscribe to Salespodder

Don’t miss out on the latest issues. Sign up now to get access to the library of members-only issues.