Every one of us is a sales person!
Disagree? Then ask yourself how many times a day you have to sell something. Whether you’re selling an idea to your boss, vegetables to your kids, an afternoon’s shopping to your other half, or anything else. Sales is actually a part of everyday life.
So, when it comes to the important sales, like interviews, first dates, meetings, and networking events, aside from doing your best to make sure you’re pitching to a relevant prospect, how can you be sure that your sales approach is as effective as possible?
1. Be Genuine
Being anything but completely genuine will come back and bite you on the behind, so be absolutely clear that what you are selling is truly going to benefit the person who you’re selling to. If you aren’t clear that you can really help them, then you should head straight back to the drawing board. Now, that’s not to say that you should allow a little self-doubt to stop you in your tracks, but simply that if you are doubting your offer or abilities, then you should take a little time to test drive whatever it is you’re selling. And, why is it so important to be genuine? Because if you can truly help someone, then there’s no need to feel “icky” about the selling process. In fact, if you can solve a problem, then you owe it to them to tell them about it. Coming from a genuine angle of wanting to help, allows you to recognise that selling is, in fact, helping.
2. Be Confident
If you are fiddling awkwardly, avoiding eye contact, apologising for selling, embarrassed by your offer, or allowing your statements to rise in tone at the end (as if you were asking a question), then you can pretty much kiss your sale goodbye. You will not be able to inspire any faith in what you have to offer, when it appears you have no faith in it yourself, so work on pitching confidently. Practice your pitch in the mirror, in front of friends and family, or video yourself and watch it back to see where you look unsure (it takes a little getting used to but it’s really helpful). Remember, you don’t know what goes on inside anyone else’s head, so instead of assuming that they don’t want to be sold to, assume that they can’t wait to get to know you and hear how you can help them!
3. Be Generous
It’s highly unlikely that someone will buy you, or anything of value from you, the second that they meet you, so how can you stand out from the crowd? Well, offer something of value before you’ve got “the job”. So, rather than going straight in for the whole sell immediately, take an interest. People are rarely given the opportunity to talk about themselves and what’s important to them, so you can help yourself by asking questions and offering an ear. Listen out for specific pain points, or difficulties, and ask some probing questions to get a better understanding of what is really causing them problems. Identify how you, or your offer, can address those issues. This will help you to…
4. Be Valuable
Now that you know what they’re struggling with, you can highlight how you can provide a solution by referring it back specifically to their particular pains. When you’re talking about it, use the same language (words) that they used when telling you about the issue, so that they can make a clear link between how they think about their issue, and your solution. Also, offer a little bit of free advice, or a quick tip that they can use even if they don’t buy you (or from you). This will help them to understand that you are truly interested in helping them and is more likely to convert them into a buyer. But, even if it doesn’t, they will remember your generosity and value, and are likely to recommend you to others and, perhaps, come back to you at a later date.
5. Be Smart
One of the biggest mistakes that I see, is sellers making it really difficult for people to buy. The commitment to buy can diminish really quickly, so it’s important that you make it as easy as possible for someone to act on that impulse. Be available on the phone or email regularly (not at the exclusion of all else, but check in a couple of times a day so you can return any important messages promptly). And, if you’re selling a product or service, make it easy for people to book your time or buy your product, straight from your website. There’s nothing worse than deciding you want to buy and then, arriving at the website, and finding that you have to jump through hoops to get what you want.
6. Be Direct
Once you’ve proven that what you have to offer is right, get agreement from the prospect that it is what they need, and then get to the point of actually selling. Don’t beat about the bush here. Tell them the price, and remember how much value you’ll be delivering in return. Then, ask them to buy. If you don’t ask them, then they’ll probably dilly dally forever, so make your offer and ask them for a yes, or no. So that you can close, or move on to the next opportunity. If the buyer needs to think about it, then arrange a follow up time/date to get a definitive answer. If they want to consult with someone else first, ask them, “What do you think [insert name] will say?” When they consider this question, they may well realise that they don’t actually need to consult, because they already know the answer. It might just be the push they need to give you a response on the spot.
7. Be Professional
If the answer is no, which it often will be, remember to handle it professionally. Tell them that you’re surprised, because your offer seemed like such a great solution, and ask them to give you some feedback about what is making them decide against it. This will help to inform your future approach, so be open to what they have to say and DO NOT get defensive. If there is an obvious glaring hole in their understanding, then by all means correct that, but don’t become a pest. Let them know that you respect their position and thank them for their feedback. You never know if they might come back at a later date (particularly if cost is the issue) and the way that you handle the rejection will ultimately decide whether you go on to get recommended to others. If you’re still taking rejection personally, think about all the times you’ve turned down a sales pitch and ask yourself, was it because you hated the person doing the selling? Or, was it just because the offer wasn’t right for you, at that time? 9 out of 10 times, rejection is about the person saying no, rather than the “seller”.
8. Be Flexible
Don’t be so rigid in your thinking that you aren’t prepared to tweak your offer or your approach. Just because you’re personally (and possibly financially) invested in something working, it doesn’t mean that it will. So take on board the feedback you get and ask yourself whether it’s valid, and if you need to change something as a result. Don’t leap to change just because one person doesn’t like it (unless you agree) but if you’re getting the same feedback regularly, then it’s foolhardy to keep using the same approach and expect a different result.
So, how many of these steps are you currently implementing in your “sales” process? Which techniques do you find work the best for you? And, what do you suppose would happen if you used all 8?
If you need more help generating sales in a business, then check this out.