As mentioned in my previous blog, we are all salespeople. We’ve all sold something before. Whether you want to admit it or not, you are a salesperson. From a very young age to later in life, we are constantly trying to sell something – products, services, stories etc. The value isn’t always monetary but the end result is always going to be the same.
When thinking about salespeople, some people think negatively. Why do you think that is? They think that way due to past experiences. Their experiences may have been unpleasant, therefore they tend to always remember that moment. When you walk into a clothing store just to browse and within seconds a salesperson approaches you and asks “hi there, welcome, can we help you find anything today?” You’re probably going to respond with “no thanks, I’m just browsing.” Right? But if you were looking for something in particular you would ask, correct? The sales person is there to offer a solution. However, some salespeople have not been experienced enough or have not gone through proper training to establish the relationship first.
Sales is not about the sale, it’s about the customer. It’s about determining what your prospects’ needs are. The sales cycle can seem lengthy, but only because of the relationship that you are trying to build during the process. Timing can aid to this as well, for example, we were just in “holiday-mode” which meant many people were off on holidays or it wasn’t the best time to gather several people to make decisions.
Now, I am no sales expert, nor do I claim to be. Everything that is stated in this blog is purely by experience or training that I’ve learned from. I have much to learn about perfecting the sales cycle but what I do know is the relationship is more valuable than the sale itself. Why, you ask? If you spend 3-4 months (or longer) building that great relationship, you earn trust and by earning trust may provide you with a sale or with a referral (or 5!). Would you rather make a quick sale or take the time to build a relationship to gain trust that could accumulate in even more sales? The quick sale is only made when desperation kicks in and that is not an attractive quality for anyone. Sure, the quick sale means quick money but it can be taken as quickly as it was given. The long process provides you with more value than money can give you.
When you think about your product or service, do you know who you are selling to? If you don’t have a clear vision of your customer then how will you define what motivates them to buy something? And if you can’t define what they need, how can you provide them with a solution?
Jeff Bloomfield, CEO, Braintrust, describes it best:
“Instead of thinking about how many possible people could buy your product if all the stars align appropriately, I want you to start thinking about who in the marketplace, is your product or service, most likely to help quickly and effectively solve a problem, and then work backwards from there. So what is an ideal customer anyway? An ideal customer could be described as a customer who values your product or service, a customer whom you can make a profit from.”
Bloomfield would suggest that your customers should be following through the ready, willing and able framework.
The whole point of selling something is to provide a solution. Asking questions is a great place to start. When you walk into a clothing store and no one approaches you the whole time you are looking, how likely are you to buy something? For me, not likely. Whether I’m “just looking” or intensively trying to find something specific, I want the salesperson to find me and ask what I am looking for. How can they get the sale without asking questions? Have you ever had extremely great customer service? If yes, did you return to the store and purchase more or tell your friends about it? Likely you’re going to answer yes. Same goes for the opposite. If you had poor customer service, the customer will remember and they WILL tell everyone.
Being in sales, I’ve had many people say to me “I could never work in sales, it’s too hard” or “I don’t want to seem pushy” or “I give you a lot of credit, I couldn’t do it”, but why? Of course you could do it. Anyone can do it and as stated above we’ve all done it without even realizing it. People are scared to hear “no”, but I would actually suggest being happy to get a “no”. Seems a little nuts right? Wrong. For me, a “no” means I can move on. No, I am not actively hoping for a no but if you’re dodging my calls and not replying to my emails – that does not mean no – that means keep trying. If you tell me no, then that just means that you don’t need what I am trying to provide you and that’s okay. Perhaps down the road, you might remember what I told you and someone you know might need it.
Next time you start with a new prospect – focus on what they want, NOT, what you want. Ask questions and offer a solution!