Everyone sells. Even if we don’t have the official title or corporate role of Salesperson, we must interact with others – superiors, staff, clients, prospects, family and friends – and persuade (that is, sell) our ideas to them, even if it is only about where to go for lunch.
It’s ironic that those who are not necessarily in the business of selling have mastered the art of the sale without even knowing it. They’ve learned the ultimate sales secret and they apply it countless times every day.
That secret and essential – yet simple – formula for selling more is…
Really? Stop selling altogether?
If your version of selling is more about “pitching”, then yes. More important, however, is understanding that you should replace such an outmoded selling method with another essential skill: building relationships. Here’s what I mean:
That was then:
Many of us grew up with traditional sales models that may have worked years ago. Process was king and you had systems to learn and implement, perhaps complete with books, audio tapes or CDs. Perhaps the biggest clue that these systems do not work over the long term is that there are so many of them. Think about it; there are as many sales approaches as there are diets. And most of those approaches put process before people.
In the old way of selling, the first order of business was to always deliver a strong sales pitch. Like I said, though, that was then…
This is now:
Ditch the pitch! Start a conversation. Build a relationship.
Here’s how you can do that:
When you call someone, avoid making a mini-presentation about yourself, your company, and what you have to offer. Instead, start the conversation by focusing on a specific problem that your product or service solves. If you don’t know what this is, ask your current customers why they purchased your solution. An example of an opening phrase:
“I’m just calling to see if you’d be open to some different ideas for lowering the risk of any computer downtime you may be having in your company.”
You are not pitching; you are encouraging a dialogue that could benefit the prospect or customer.
Over the next week, focus not on what you will say (your “pitch points”) to your customer, but what kind of conversation you will have with your customer. You can’t script a sales conversation, of course, or it really wouldn’t be a conversation. But you can think about how you will nurture a fluid dialogue, and about how you can get the customer to relax and reveal their pressing challenges and needs for a solution (perhaps your solution, perhaps not). Sure, you can have your toolbox of ideas and comments ready, but be patient: bring them into the conversation only when the time is right.Understand that “pitching” is a one-way tactic. And because people don’t like to listen to monologues, they will only hear some of what you say. But if you manage to create genuine dialogue, they will be engaged in every word.Most successful selling isn’t about convincing; it’s about diagnosing. If you are pitching, it is likely only a coincidence if the pitch you toss at your customer lands in the right place. A good sales conversation, on the other hand, helps you diagnose your customer’s interests, needs, challenges and opportunities. It can also help you identify the “spices” that make this customer unique.
Before every sales call, remind yourself: “I want to start a conversation.” This will help you instantly overcome two very important call obstacles: 1) It will relax you and take the pressure off your client, freeing them to see you as a trusted advisor, not an adversary; and 2) it will encourage you to ask more questions and bring you closer to that “golden rule” of listening 80% of the time and speaking only 20%.
At a Glance: The Old Way (Selling or Pitching) vs. the New Way (Building Relationships through Conversation)
|Then: The Sales Pitch||Now: The Sales Conversation|
|The dialogue is one-way.||The dialogue is two-way.|
|The dialogue is prescriptive.||The dialogue is diagnostic.|
|You script your interaction.||You and your customer create your interaction together in real-time with a real conversation.|
|You guess about what you should say.||Your customer shows you what to say.|
|You talk about what you are selling.||You talk about your customer and his or her needs.|
|You sell to your customer.||You help your customer buy|
|You receive feedback throughout.||You receive feedback after you talk.|
|You might or might not make the sale.||You build a relationship for long-term sales success.|
The Bottom Line:
Ditch the pitch! By conversing and truly engaging with your sales prospect or customer (person to person, not salesperson to buyer) you can most likely boost your sales and increase customer loyalty. Sales Xceleration can help – contact an Advisor today!
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