The most challenging part of my role as an entrepreneur was sales. I knew that as a business owner I was my magazine’s most important brand ambassador but I also knew I could never transform myself into a fast-talking salesperson. I am too shy.
There’s a guy who cleans car windscreens near where I live. You know the sort of person. They jump out when the traffic lights turn red and walk up to your car with a dodgy smile a squeegee and a bottle of water. I’m sure you’ve seen these sorts of fellows around.
I was making some prospecting calls the other day and guess what? One of the prospects I was talking with said, “You know what Phil. If we weren’t doing so well I would want to talk further with you. The fact is we have been diligently working for some years to address the problems that you just told me that you help companies fix and I’m happy with the performance of our sales team”.
Retail selling is quite a different beast to B2B (business to business) or B2C (business to consumer). B2B and B2C selling typically involves a longer selling cycle, higher investment, more complex decision-making process etc.
A sale is a decision and all decisions are based on emotion. We decide first, then we justify with logic. When you decided to marry your spouse, you made that decision emotionally. When you bought your house, you made that decision emotionally. Logic follows the emotional decision and is used to justify the decision. A stuck sale usually means that the emotional component is no longer present in the process.
When you’re creating any sort of communication aimed at a potential buyer, you want them to do what?
When I ask this question, I typically hear a range of answers like:
- Know more about our business
- Understand how we’re better than our competitors
- Wonder if we’re the right fit for them
And of course….
I get a lot of email, which I classify three ways: stuff I must read, stuff I might read and junk. The “stuff I must read” goes to the top of my to-do list. The “stuff I might read” is shuffled over to a corner of my inbox for that blessed day when I finally have time to catch up. The junk gets deleted.
Today's smart consumers are shopping around, chasing value but also expecting better customer experiences. In most sectors barriers to entry are low, new entrants are coming along faster and copying the best offers.
So a sustainable business needs to get the basics right, through efficient and consistent processes; it needs to surprise and delight customers at key customer touch-points by understanding what will engage customers and make them choose you.
Here are the three steps to selling that have supercharged my success:
1. Make sure your clients are clear on the result they desire
Are you a personal trainer selling a weight loss solution? Your first step is to actually get your clients to articulate what they are looking for. Do they just want to loose five kilos for health reasons or do they actually want to look like Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider?
Traditionally sales people are viewed as being able to convince, persuade, handle objections … a very provincial view. Michael Bosworth, in his book ”Customer Centric Selling” says it best: