I am going to reveal my biggest secret on being the successful sales person that I am. It is truly my secret weapon, and it took a long time to develop. Many people talk a good game, but few are able to LIVE this ideal. Ready?
Stop being selfish.
Period…hard stop. That’s it. It’s one of those things that is simple but not easy. For the non-sales person, this probably seems like a no-brainer. Be nice and think of others first; seems like a good life principal, not just a sales principal. But there is a breakdown that occurs when you sell for a living. That breakdown starts right here: “I need a sale to pay my mortgage this month.” Or the dreaded: I have a sales quota to meet…I understand that you have bills to pay just like everyone else does, I get it. If you want to mediocre at your craft and sell enough to get by, stop reading this blog post and go about your life. If you are interested in upgrading your approach, and therefore your results, please continue.
When it comes to Empathy-Based sales, you have to put all of your needs aside, and truly put the client first. You and your company’s financial concerns have NOTHING to do with the client. Set that aside. I don’t care if you just need one more goal to break a sales record or one more sale to keep the doors open, it’s not their problem. That is selfish behavior, regardless which of the examples you fall under.
Another hurdle to clear is if you are knowingly selling a product or service that is inferior, second rate, not going to stand the test of time, or whatever other shortcoming there may be, get out ASAP. You are going to be very hard pressed to live this idiom if you KNOW that what you represent to your clients is not the right service or product. If you are selling solely to pay your bills, this is not likely to work over the long haul. People do it, I am not sure how they sleep at night, but there are those who do it this way.
Over time, the market itself will weed out most of the companies that really can’t make the grade.
Hopefully you are working within a company that is top of the food chain, and what you are selling is a viable solution. If you are not, you may want to start putting that in motion very soon.
When you are confident that what you are selling is a good solution, now we can move onto the next and most important phase of this approach. Now you need to doing the following:
Set your personal needs and desires aside. You HAVE TO put what the client needs as a solution first. You need to help them discover the best solution for their company’s needs. In most cases this could very well be your solution, but in some it may not. Man up and let them know when you are not the right choice.
LISTEN. You cannot discover what the client’s motivation for making a change is if you are puking features and benefits at them. Ask good questions and sit back and listen. With the right questions they will tell you everything you need to know to cure what ails them, assuming your service can do so. If not, let me know, shake hands and move onto the next opportunity.
Be an Educator. I look at my sales role as being an educator of the service we provide. I want to make sure the prospective client understands the solution(s) I am bringing to the table for their company. This is key to ensuring that they see the benefit of choosing your company over the competition.
Gain trust. You need to slowly build their trust in you as a consultant and an industry expert. They need to see that you are in this for the long haul, and what you’re offering is worth the struggle of change within their company. Your selfless behavior has to continue over time to prove it is not an act or sales tactic.
Prove your worth as a PARTNER in the working relationship. My cell number is on my business card for a reason. I do not do just sales, I am in the customer service business. AT ANY TIME a client of mine needs me, I am there. I do not always have the answer or am able to directly solve the problem, but I know who within my company does. It is my responsibility to answer questions and resolve issues throughout our working relationship. They probably don’t expect perfection from your company, but what they ABSOLUTELY expect is that you are gonna come runnin’ with a bucket of water if anything catches fire.
The above five bullet points are the core tenants of how I do sales. My explanations are brief, and meant to pique your curiosity and start you down the path of exploring these things in more depth. I promise you, this approach will improve your sales, regarding of what you are selling. I was blessed with a fairly high level of Emotional Intelligence, and have continued to develop this over the years. There are lots of books on the topic, and I suggest that you get to reading several of them so you can also develop this skill. This will improve ALL of your relationships, not just the business ones. If you can upgrade your own operating hardware for your own life, imagine the benefits that will have for you in your sales career.
Now, this will not be an easy transition, and if you have been knee deep in the “used car salesman” approach up until now, a radical shift may be viewed suspiciously by the people you are currently selling to. If you come in with a completely different approach overnight, don’t expect that the clients you have been working with up until now to not look at this as just another tactic to close a deal. If you are truly committed to this life shift, you may need to start fresh somewhere else, and leave the confines of your current working situation behind. This might be a lot easier than slowly changing the minds of everyone you work with in your current role.
Here’s a test for you: If you went to the last five prospects you spoke with and asked them to rate your sales presentation, your overall approach to getting them to choose your company, what would they say? If you are not sure about the answer to those questions, it’s likely for one of three reasons:
1. You lack true self awareness.
2. You are stuck following a script, which is too rigid an approach.
3. You are hoping reciting product features or service benefits will be enough.
If you are focused on making a sale, and not helping the client find the right solution for them, you are not taking the right approach in my opinion. If you work “lower-level, transactional sales, like retail for example, you can probably get away with this. Anything that is a higher level, longer term sales cycle, this approach will hinder your success.
To elevate your sales approach you need to elevate your life approach.
Think about that for a second; if you are a typical smarmy sales guy who is in it for themselves, how does that spill over into the rest of your life? How selfish are you in your own life and personal relationships if this is how you approach sales? Are you at least a decent listener, or do you just wait for your turn to talk? Are you just making noises with your face, or are you actually adding value to the conversation in a consultative manner?
This will help you become a respected sales professional and resource in your industry, help avoid buyer’s remorse for sales that close, and buy you time to resolve issues that occur after the client comes on board. It’s the only way to go in my opinion.
I wish you luck in your transformation. Reach out to me if I can assist.