"Dad, can I have money to buy some V Bucks? I promise I'll do chores later."
"Baby, it's such a great deal, how can we pass it up?"
"Do you want to add the warranty for another $80? It covers this, that, and the other thing that may or may not happen to said product."
"Mr Thornton, have you let Jesus into your heart?"
SALES IS THE GAME OF LIFE. Anytime, from email, text, phone call, social media post, or a conversation with your kid, something is being sold to you, or you're selling something almost every minute of every day. It's one of the first things we learn to do. Making noises to elicit responses from our parents.
Even though we've been selling since birth, so many shrivel and shrink at the idea of selling or being sold. They may feel like a dummy, being duped by some slick talker. Or, like a sleazoid, trying to convince someone to buy their goods. If we are honest about the facts, and show how said product or concept can benefit the parties involved, and it makes sense to THEM, are we really selling/being sold, or just getting/giving what people want?
If you’re a business owner with a product to sell, a person that is looking to get into sales, or an old vet looking for a refresher or new POV… I got you.
Understand how people want to connect
Sales at its purest is problem-solving. To help someone solve their problem, we have to listen…really listen, with everything we have. Listen to what they're saying and how they're saying it. What are they doing with their hands when they speak about their problem? Are they looking you in the eyes?
Everyone has a favored way of communicating and buying. Some people want it quick, simple and to the point. Little to no human interaction. They seek the information to make an educated choice, make the decision and out the door or off the site. Others want to build rapport and need to feel a connection to the person and company to feel ready to make a buying decision. They have questions about your product and you as a salesperson. Or possibly, they don't want to buy at all and will stonewall anything you try to do to assist. Regardless, the common denominator between One Take Tony and Romancing the Stone is they want to be heard and related to on their terms. Make sure you're listening. The old saying rings true. “You’ve got 2 ears and one mouth for a reason. Listen twice as much as you talk.”
Like true communication, sales is a two-way street. How you connect is important too. You won’t vibe with every person and vice versa. You may enjoy giving every fact and feature about your product because you believe in it so much. Not everyone you come across will want all that information to make a buying choice. You can and will talk yourself out of a sale sometimes. It's easier and happens more frequently than you think.
If you’ve ever applied for a sales position, you’ve probably come across "The Test." The interviewer, after pleasantries, will become gravely serious...looking you dead in the eye, they will slowly rise from the table, a test. A test that has conquered greater salespeople than I. Holding your sales future in their hands, these words will spill from their mouths, "Sell me this pen." Potential salespeople will launch into talking points about it being the best in the market, all the great features and benefits of this life-changing pen.
In his book, Way of the Wolf, Jordan Belfort speaks to using this technique when interviewing hires for his firm Stratton Oakmont. One day, while with a candidate, Donnie Azoff, his right-hand man, comes into the office during this test. Jordan hands Donnie the pen, then asks him to sell it. Donnie asks if he needs a pen. Jordan replies no, his partner throws the pen back at him and in more fun language than I'll use here says, "Then why am I trying to sell you a pen? I'll leave that to the amateurs." Figure out what you’re solving before you launch into a solution. It may not be the fix required.
Have a process
When I was a kid, I used to sell my old stuff to be able to make money for new bobbles. One of my favorite sales moments was at age 12. I sold my Sega Genesis and all the games to make over $600 in a week to buy a Sony PlayStation. Ah, the days of playing the original Tekken and Jet Moto were sweet.
When 12-year-old me was selling, that was part of my process - letting prospects know I was working towards a goal. This was something I did instinctively, and it worked! So what if you take the time to outline or script your process before introducing yourself? Less time in your head worrying about saying something dumb because you already know what you're going to say. Combine that with thoroughly listening to your prospect, and you're well out in front of many sales professionals.
When I say you have an idea of what you’re saying, the expectation isn’t that you will be reading from a page when you speak to folks. It's building a process to walk your prospects through step by step while helping bring resolution to their issues. That process may have scripted parts where you ask a question or give a specific benefit or feature. It may be almost completely autonomous. Whatever the system you put in place, it's gotta be measurable, so you can adjust to make it as effective as possible.
Don’t make a sales goal, make a contact goal
Sales is a numbers game. If you have a process in place, you can measure the success or close rate. Look at the average close rates for your industry to see how well your process is working. Not every sale is created equal. Some will be slam dunks, fun to watch and be a part of. Others may feel like root canals, drawn out, painful and messy. Either way, once you can walk a prospect through your process successfully, you’re officially in business!
Get out of your own head/Don ’t take it personally
Sales is a mind game, one that we play mainly with ourselves. We can start overthinking, “I must be bothering them” or “They must not be interested” if they don’t respond after the initial contact.
Remember, someone is trying to sell us ALL THE TIME. It gets daunting, plus life is laced with distractions. Closing a sale usually doesn’t happen with the first contact. When it does, thank the sales gods for the gimmes, because they don’t come often. Closing may not even happen in the second or third interaction. Depending on what you’re selling and who you are selling to, it can take up to seven contacts or “touches” to finally reach the motherland. In some sales cycles, it can take months or years to finally close. No way that's happening with one call and then sitting on your hands, waiting. Be patient, but also be pleasantly persistent.
Huge companies pay hundreds of millions annually to stay in front of people. Which keeps them on top of their minds when it is finally time to make a purchase.
Stay in touch, even if they don't make a purchase right away. Not every touch needs to be a sales call. With so many options at buyers’ disposal, staying in front of mind is crucial. This can be done with a simple "How's it going?"Sales is a game we're all playing. I hope this helps you out with a level up. Get out there and get your XP up by being a proud problem solver.