Why do you think sales calls and conversations are different?
Photo by Chris Gladis
It is very common for people to hate the thought of being a salesperson. I know we all have this image of the sleazy used car guy in our mind when we think of sales. Well this is what a non-salesperson or untrained salesperson thinks of sales anyhow. Right?
I used to be this guy. Heck I'm a business owner and I hated the thought of being a cheesy sales guy. So I avoided sales and learning anything about sales for years. I'm sure this is what held me back in the early days.
It is common for people who think that sales are evil, to have the misconception that salespeople are always trying to get you to buy something you don't want or need. Would you agree? Sure I had the same thought. But after several years in business I realized, "you know what, all I do is sell. I sell myself all day everyday." This is when things started changing for me. I wasn't out to sell something people didn't want or need. My true goal was to help people. As I got more serious about sales and even became trained in sales I found one point that really stuck with me.
My sales coach pointed out that it is important to DISQUALIFY people as fast as you can.
I know this sounds crazy, but think about it. The untrained salesperson keeps trying to sell to any and every contact they meet. Sadly it is the inexperienced salesperson that is doing everything they can to convince people to BUY their product or service. This is exactly what they hoped not to become, but because they are so close, they often don't see the real truth. A skilled salesperson disqualifies people who are not a good fit and moves on. The goal is to find the RIGHT FIT, not someone you can convince or trick into buying. Think about it… if a person buys something they are not interested in or ready to accept, chances are they will be unhappy customers and problem clients. Who wants that?
Okay, so we've covered why people often hate sales (and why I don't anymore). Now let's talk about communication.
Have you ever had a smart conversation with a friend and walked away feeling really great? You both had fun chatting and laughing or sharing tips and advice to help each other. It's a win-win right? Well a good sales call/meeting should be no different.
Photo by Henry Söderlund
If you are good at sales, sales calls will be fun, entertaining, and an educational conversation.
It should feel like a smart conversation with a friend. No one should have any walls up, there should be openness, vulnerability, advice and free tips… especially in the first meeting. After the first meeting if you inspired the prospect, if you piqued their interest, and if you pointed out a few ways to help the prospect without hiring you, then guess what? They will likely request another conversation to learn more. After the first connection, both parties should walk away knowing whether or not they should continue talking, just like meeting a potential new friend. If the salesperson did their job well… the prospect will want more and will be pushing to set up the next meeting.
Notice I said the prospect will want to continue the dialogue. This means you did a good job and didn't trick or convince them. You just had a smart conversation and proved you know something that the prospect wants to learn about. You probably asked tough questions that got the prospect to think. You probably asked questions no one else asked your prospect. You may have challenged them on some of their current beliefs and got them thinking. This is something they may not have experienced before because they are accustomed to dealing with crappy salespeople who want to talk about their product, their service, their features, their benefits, their pricing model. Did you notice it was all about them?
How many good friends do you have that always talk about themselves? Probably not many because you get tired of them and want to have them listen to you once in a while. You probably want the back and forth of ideas and a way to find a common ground in a balanced conversation. When it is lopsided you rarely build a good relationship. The same is true in sales. So, in your next sales meeting try to have a smart conversation with a friend. Ask about them and what they are doing, what they are struggling with, how they got to where they are, where do they want to go, etc., etc. Go into the meeting looking to build a friendly smart conversation with equal back and forth. As a matter of fact focus 80% on them and only 20% on you and what you are doing and you will set yourself apart.
The whole idea behind good selling is to focus on finding ways to sincerely help people and disqualify or qualify people based on real world needs and smart conversations.
Good luck, set meetings, ask questions, have smart conversations, disqualify/qualify people, build rapport and help more people.
Lastly… understand that sales is really just effective communications.