Many people will tell you that in the modern world there is no need for companies to sell. I totally agree that the process by which anyone buys has changed because of social media and the internet, but I still passionately believe that being able to sell and achieve results is a key requirement for any business that wants to grow! I talk with lots of business owners who tell me that they don’t like being sold to or that they don’t find the sales part of their role easy. Many will actively avoid this part of the job and focus on products or operations or even delegate the job to others in their company but then wonder why business numbers are not where they want them to be at the end of each month.
Does this sound familiar to you? If so then you’re not alone.
‘I don’t like to interrupt people’ or ‘I don’t want to come across as pushy’ are common reasons I hear for business owners not wanting to make calls to prospects even though they offer a product or service which their existing customers love, and which solves real problems for the target market they work with!
It is easy to shy away from doing ‘sales actions’ because we have this conception that prospects don’t want to be sold to and whilst no one wants to be sold to, if we believe in the mission of our business then don’t you have a duty to try and help those who need your help in your industry?
The best sales people will adopt 3 key rules when it comes to selling and working with their prospects and they will use these 3 pillars within every engagement they have.
The number 1 golden rule in my 3 key rules of selling and in any sales conversation is that its not about you. Forget what you sell, how great you are, what features you offer and why you are such good value.
It is not about you it is about them. Let me repeat that.
IT IS NOT ABOUT YOU, IT IS ALL ABOUT THE PROSPECT!
If your approach in sales is to talk about you and what you offer without seeking to understand more about the person you are engaging with then I believe you will fail more often than succeed.
It is very difficult to really adopt this approach when you have targets to hit and especially if the amount of leads you bring into your business has dropped. The natural tendency is to jump on any new enquiry that comes in and then try and push your solution to the prospect because you want the business! Operating in this way without really getting to understand about the needs and wants of your prospect may lead to short term business but will likely lead to long term customer churn and dissatisfaction!
If you listen to your prospect, get to know them and really try and put yourself in their shoes then not only will you get to understand them, but you will also learn more about the industry you are in and what people in these roles really need from your company. What keeps the prospect up at night? What challenges are they trying to overcome? What is not a priority for them right now and why?
The great Stephen Covey stated, ‘seek first to understand to then be understood’ and he is totally right. If you approach sales conversations with prospects with a real desire to learn and understand them before even thinking about what you do or offer, then you are half way there.
There may be times when after listening to their thoughts that its not right for you to try and offer them your service and if this is the case then tell them that! Not only will they respect you more for being honest with them, but they may refer you to others they know who do need your service as a thanks for focusing on them and not you!
So, rule number 1 is approach sales conversations with a real desire to get to know the prospect.
When I talk to business owners about their sales concerns, they tell me that they don’t like being sold to and what that tells me is that most of the sales people who engage with them talk rather than listen.
Would you really feel sold to if you were doing most of the talking and the person on the other end of the call was just listening to you and asking intelligent questions about your business and what you do?
One of the greatest skills anyone can have in sales which builds on rule number 1 is the ability to listen. In so many cases, this goes against all the traditional rules and thoughts we hear about great sales people. We get told all of the time that the best sales people have the gift of the gab and can sell ice to the eskimos but we rarely hear ‘that sales person was a brilliant listener’ and yet how can you understand more about your prospect when you are talking all of the time?
Being honest, this is one of the biggest challenges I must tell myself every time I engage with a prospect. It’s one of my key areas for improvement and development. I can think back to conversations I have had where I just talked and talked, and I cringe now when I think how the prospect must have felt! It is difficult when you are passionate and keen to help someone to sometimes shut your mouth and open your ears but if you are to achieve consistent sales success then you need to do just that! Of course, you need the person you are speaking with to want to engage in a conversation but if you are focused on understanding them and their challenges (Rule number 1) and ask intelligent questions then you will be amazed at how much prospects will share with you which enables you to understand them more!
Next time you make a call with a prospect actively think at the end of the call ‘who did most of the talking there?’ If it was 50/50 or a higher percentage on your side, then you need to make changes! Prospects should always do most of the talking with your conversations and so aim for 65-70% of the call or meeting to be them talking and you listening! If you do this, take good notes and have a clear sales process in which to work towards you will be amazed at how your results will improve.
The 3rd rule of sales that I believe is key for anyone when they engage with a prospect is to believe in what they do and offer and really, truly ask themselves the question ‘would I buy that if I was them?’
This of course is a situation which is unlikely to ever occur, but I always believe it’s a good way to think when you are trying to sell a product or a service to a prospect.
Would you feel so confident and assured about what you do and the results you could achieve for your prospect if it was your money?
Would you get your own credit card out or transfer the initial amount to your prospect straight away if they asked you to because you are that confident that you can achieve them the results you have promised?
If you wouldn’t then maybe that’s a telling sign that you either don’t believe in what you are offering or that this prospect is not right for your product or service!
So much of the time, people try and sell something that they don’t believe in themselves or which deep down they know has a better result for them than the prospect themselves. They go through the motions because they want to achieve a number yet in reality they know that they are only storing up pain for themselves later. The best sales people know that to achieve the best consistent results they must understand who they are working with and based around that then recommend and suggest the RIGHT option for the prospect and not just the option they sell!
If the right option is to go with your product or service, then you would have no problems in buying the product yourself as you know it will deliver results and you know that the prospect will thank you in time for helping them make the decision!
If you are just selling to make a number or some quick money and you truly don’t believe that what you are selling can solve a problem or challenge for the prospect, then my advice is step away and go and find a prospect that does need what you do!
If there are not any of those prospects out there then maybe you need to adjust your product set or target market but my 3rd rule of sales is always asking yourself the question ‘Would I buy it if I was them?’
If the answer is yes then this passion, energy and real desire to help your prospect will shine through and it will help you build great long-term relationships and credibility!
So, do you agree with my 3 key rules? Is there a rule you would like to see on this list above these 3? Tell me if you think there is!