This week I’ve been reflecting on how we buy and sell. As business owners being able to connect with clients and sell our products and services is an essential skill. But many people shy away from sales or labelling themselves as a salesperson, even though the reality is that we’re all selling all the time – our brand, our services, ourselves. Do you meet potential clients who you know would benefit from your solution but don’t buy from you? You know that what you offer is valuable and needed by people you want to help. How do you you sell in a way that feels authentic and in line with your personal and business values?
“Stop selling. Start helping.” Zig Ziglar
How do you sell?
Selling makes most of us feel uncomfortable. Too many connotations of sleezy and aggressive car salesmen or unwelcome telesales calls. The truth is that most of us hate being sold to but we love to buy! There are a few reasons why you may have strong feelings about sales. You may believe things about sales that aren’t true. Perhaps you’ve had negative experiences of being sold to, or maybe you’re trying to sell and struggling to do so successfully.
If you hate sales, it’s likely you believe it’s something you’re doing to someone. Maybe you believe that selling requires you to convince someone to buy something they don’t want or need or that they can’t afford. The truth is that good selling is about helping your potential client make an informed decision about what to do and how to do it. Like so many other things, selling is a process that can be learned. Yes there are ‘natural-born’ salespeople who build rapport easily but if you’re prepared to put the work in, anyone can learn to sell effectively and authentically.
The process starts by agreeing with your potential client on what their problem is and also its urgency. It’s not about telling them anything, but about asking questions and really listening. Your questions are key here. You want your potential client to know that you really understand what they are experiencing and what pain the situation is causing them. People buy for only one of two reasons – to avoid pain or gain pleasure. All the research points to the avoidance of pain being a far stronger driver than moving towards pleasure. They buy what they want, not what they need. Can you find a way of giving them both?
You may be able to see why they need the solution right now but unless your potential client sees it they won’t buy. So your job is to help them understand the potential implications of failing to act. Share your experiences, examples of people who failed to act in similar scenarios, case studies of people who did act. Do not try to persuade, instead seek to educate. Once you’re sure you’re both on the same page in terms of the problem, you can move onto solutions. But not your solution. We’re not ready for that yet. First you need to discuss with your potential client the different types of solution. What outcome are they looking for? What kind of product or service will give them that outcome? What are the pros and cons of each type of solution in your clients mind? It’s all about what they are looking to achieve.
Only when they have concluded that the type of solution they are looking for is the kind of thing you offer, should you move on to describing your solution and how it will solve their problem. Then you can invite them to buy rather than selling to them. If you go through these three steps properly and thoroughly there are only two reasons why someone won’t buy from you. Either they don’t trust you or they don’t trust themselves. Your challenge is to figure out which one it is and help them overcome it.
Here are my Top 10 Tips on how to sell more effectively:-
🌟 Find the pain. What is your potential client struggling with? What’s the pain they are feeling. Focus on understanding them and their problem rather than trying to fix it immediately.
🌟 Timelines. You may be thinking this week and they may be thinking sometime in the next five years. Make sure you understand how urgent they think the problem is and why.
🌟 Outcomes. What do they want instead of the pain? What do they think that looks like? Focus on what they want rather than what you know they need. How can you deliver both to them?
🌟 Give before you get. Before you have a right to ask for anything, you need to offer something of value. What information, knowledge or experience would your potential client find helpful in making their decision?
🌟 Ask questions. You may understand your client’s problem better than they do but don’t impose your views on them. Help them understand better. Help them reach conclusions by asking great questions.
🌟 Really listen. What you think is not important. What you know is not important. What is important is how your client sees the world, how they perceive the problem they have. Use your ears more than your mouth.
🌟 No pressure. One of the hardest things is to give your potential client the time they need, especially when you have bills to pay. But people can smell desperation a mile off, so be cool and let them do their thing.
🌟 Handle objections. Either they don’t trust you or they don’t trust themselves. Find out which and help them overcome their own objections. Don’t bully or persuade. Instead offer support and information that will help them.
🌟 Follow the process. If you skip one of my steps you’ll soon notice. If your potential client bails or starts putting a wall up, go back a step. Don’t invite them to buy until they’re ready. No you. Them!
🌟 Enjoy. Being in business is ultimately about serving people and offering solutions to their problems. Selling is hugely rewarding when you’re coming from a place of service. Enjoy the process!
It’s completely unrealistic to expect yourself to know everything or be able to do everything. Please be kind to yourself and if you’d like to talk through the choices you’re facing or any blockers in your business, let me know.
Lisa Zevi – June 2021