If I had a dollar for every time someone told me, they hated selling … I’d be a millionaire!
I work with teams to help them reframe their ideas and actions around how they sell and interact with clients. Here is what I have learned.
- People hate to sell because they think it is about manipulating others into buying something … something that they don’t need / can’t afford and don’t want. They they conjure up a picture of the dodgiest, slimiest salesperson in the world … and then try everything through their words, actions and intentions for people NOT to think of them in that way.
- People hate to sell because they don’t like the idea of ‘No!’ or questions that might interfere with their perception of the value they deliver to their customers. The truth is that people are often so scared that others might see them as pushy and salesy, that this fear both stops them selling in the right way and in fact creates exactly the perceptions they are trying to avoid.
There is bad selling and great selling. Let’s explore how to reframe and create a great selling process.
Helping people buy
When starting my work with teams, I often ask them to tell me about a great sales experience. And very often – they can’t. The main reason for this is that when you are the recipient of a great sales experience, it simply feels like someone has helped you to buy something you need or want and helps you understand how it helps you.
The essence of great selling isn’t pushy, or self-orientated, it’s focused on helping the other person to solve a problem or fulfil a need. It is focused on them and their buying process, helping them make a good buying decision for them, irrespective of the outcome.
Once our sales mindset and focus is on helping people buy, this focus manifests in improved sales activities and results.
Here’s what great selling activities look like.
Step One: Listening
You can only help someone once you first understand their problem, what they want and don’t want.
People buy something because they have a problem or a need. Your role in the sales process is to help them uncover and understand that need and that has to start with listening.
When your potential customer knows their mind and needs, this can be relatively straight forward. Your role is to help them in their process of discovery and help them build out a solution by educating them and working through their actions and reactions.
Listening involves all your senses and is the vital first step in the sales process. It isn’t just your ears but your whole body, senses and mind that are involved in listening. Once you have actively listened, then the next step is interpreting these inputs until you truly understand the person and their needs and desires.
The result of great listening is that you now understand your customer and their problem, needs and desires.
Step Two: Find Fit
The next step is to understand if your solution fits with your new understanding of their problem and need.
First a word of warning. Sometimes it is obvious after listening that your solution doesn’t fit. Now is the time to tell them and to help them look for an alternative. This is often where people go wrong … trying to fit their big foot into the tiny glass slipper.
If you do see a fit, then start the process of working through this with the client. Working together to explain and build out the solution that meets their need and solves their problem.
There is never going to be one tool or story that encapsulates this clients’ needs and motivations exactly and so it is important to explore different areas until you are sure you are on the right track.
Knowing you are on the right track involves more listening! Listening involves asking questions and seeing, hearing and interpreting the responses to ascertain where you are in their buying process and how you can help them take their next step.
Step Three: Activley Look for Objections
Yes! Look for objections. They are there lurking! It is better to get on the front foot with your customer and help to bring objections to the fore so they can be answered.
If there are common objections that are relevant to this client, try to bring this up first. Here’s what that might sound like:
“I have worked with several clients that have a similar business and initially they were worried about _____________. Once we had been through the solution and they had spoken to some of our clients, they were happy that this wouldn’t happen with our solution.”
Once you have one objection out in the open, it is much easier to ask for the next one and work your way through until they are all answered.
Step Four: Create Value
There is an ‘old’ ABC of sales. Always Be Closing.
In great selling, it changes to Always Be Creating (value)
In great selling, value is created for all players in the dance of sales. It is a true win:win:win.
Your goal in this step is to have both you and your client clear on how your solution adds value to all players. That’s the key sign that you are working well and participating in a great selling and buying process.
If you take the view “Always Be Creating value”, then the whole great selling process makes perfect sense.
When you sell like this, it doesn’t feel like ‘selling’ at all.
My mission is to help people and organisations learn more about how their customers buy and how to use this information to architect a great solution sales process. If this is something you would like to explore for your business, then get in touch.