No matter what you do, you’re selling. Whether you have the title of “Salesperson” or not, you sell yourself every day. Transferring enough optimism and confidence to whoever is needing you at the moment is a paramount skill for the professional.
As a Business Consultant, post-college, I worked with well over a hundred sales reps.
Since then, I’ve maintained an active role in selling millions of dollars worth of projects in my current business. Furthermore, I have dozens of sales reps that call on me on a consistent basis, in an effort to earn our business. This has provided a broad perspective and education on the art of sales.
Nothing Happens ‘Till A Sale Is Made
It may be a product, service, or idea. Either way, we sell ourself every day to our clients, colleagues, followers, and/or employer. However, there is a key distinction in pros who are effective and those who never get the hang of it.
Whether cold calls, chasing project leads or conducting presentations, the truth is, the majority of people in the field of sales do not sell.
They tell…and tell, and tell about what it is we do and what we can offer. We love to tell how we are the greatest company, offer incredible services, our competition couldn’t possibly serve them like……
Many of these folks are human advertisements. Not sales professionals.
Here’s the problem. While we tell ourselves we are educating them with our vast knowledge, it falls on deaf ears because, well — they just don’t care.
Josef Albers said, “Good teaching (I’ll insert selling) is more a giving of right questions than a giving of right answers.”
If you’re a sales professional, you’ve most likely attended training on your industry’s sales cycle. It normally begins with an introduction of sorts leading to the close. Everyone, who has something of value to offer, wants to jump straight from the introduction stage, immediately to presenting. The part where you have earned the right to lay out your features, advantages, and benefits.
The overlooked piece of the cycle is consulting. Yes, if you’re in sales, you’re a master consultant. Instead of a carpet salesman, you’re a “flooring consultant.” Feels good doesn’t it? Words mean something. If you tell someone you’re an insurance salesman, you get one response. However, if you label yourself a financial consultant, helping families plan their investment and insurance strategies, you’re esteemed.
So, are you a human advertisement, or a pro? An advertisement is an interruption. A pro knows where and how to offer value.
Here’s a framework to try.
➢ First, when approaching any prospect, start by asking for help. Almost no one will dismiss you for that, if you ask from a sincere and authentic place. Everyone wants to offer help.
I like to approach a new interaction in some manner similar to this; “Hey __, I need your help, may I ask you a question?” After getting the nod, I’ll give a brief overview of what I’m looking to do and then ask their help in how I can be successful with it.
This is a powerful thing to do before you ask your first consultative question. It demonstrates respect and subconsciously allows the prospective client, in their mind, to grant you permission to interact with them.
➢ Next, proceed to ask your first question. My favorite starter is “What’s been your experience with ____________?” Another approach could be, “In your opinion, how do you feel about.______” These questions will help gain better awareness of your client, so you know where you can be of service.
After that, probe with, “How did that work out for you?” “How did that make you feel?” etc. This is laying the groundwork of rapport that will lead to opportunities for more questions. The questions are key.
➢ Finally, after understanding what their needs & desires are, you can suggest possible solutions, and make a transition to offering your product. If you’re like me and in a service driven business, ask for an opportunity to serve them during their next need. Always ASK for the opportunity to do business. Find something to follow up with, so your meeting provides something of value. This will be the key to not getting stagnant in your selling process or being an interruption to their day.
Oh yeah, don’t forget to ask for the referral. Asking something such as, “Who do you know that I should know?” can earn you a steady stream of potential clients.
The highest paid profession in the world, it’s also the one with the most turn over.
Set yourself apart and succeed by developing rapport, adding value, and remember, next time you’re tempted to unload a speech of what you have to offer, try asking a question instead.
Question: What’s your selling approach?