What is selling really about?
and why you simply can't avoid it.
Most people in business say ‘I don’t like selling’ or ‘I don’t want our marketing to be salesy‘ … and I absolutely get that.
No one wants to be viewed as a ‘cheezy, sleazy’ salesperson, do they?
But if being ‘salesy’ is absolutely not what selling is about, what’s the secret?
In my corporate days, amongst other jobs, I became the UK’s top B2B salesperson (of 200+ in the UK at Clerical Medical, a blue-chip investment and pensions house) So, I guess I’m qualified to write on this. Sorry if that sounds braggy, but in a world where people get to be ‘famous for being famous’ (as Malcolm Muggeridge said) and with so many experts who’ve done nothing offering you advice, I just thought you’d like to know.
Anyway, there it is 🙂
Sales rules are for people who can’t sell
In my sales years, colleagues would occasionally ask me (often in private, presumably hoping to gain an advantage over other colleagues) what I was doing to sell such high volumes of our investment and pensions products.
And they were particularly confused by the fact that I seemed to break basic rules of selling; a fact that frustrated my sales manager too – because I didn’t ‘call’ many people!
So, what did I reveal as the secret?
‘Oh, that’s easy’ I used to say,
‘to be great at selling, you need to stop selling’!
Some ‘got it’ but many thought I was mad – and probably still do.
Yet, that’s the simple truth of it.
If you have a proper conversation with the people you meet – and you follow up properly, in writing, afterwards – you don’t have time to visit 10 people a day.
You’ll only hit those kinds of ‘headless chicken’ call rates if you fail to engage with most prospects.
This is a fundamental truth that I don’t see changing any time soon – especially on big-ticket, B2B sales.
Sure, you need to work for a business (or have a business) that delivers good products or services with good service standards.
And your marketing needs to be OK too, tho’ that’s less important than most marketing consultants will tell you BTW!
Yes, you need to know how to talk (or write) about product/service features in terms of customer benefits – and you’ll need to do that at two levels if you sell through intermediaries.
However, it’s what you do in front of your prospective customer, a real live person (even on Zoom) that phases most people.
I mean seriously… WTF do you do?
Well, that’s a big question, and I’m not giving you all the answers today, but you need to start here:
Ask useful questions and actively listen to the answers
Without question, the first thing you need to do is build trust – which you do by showing your warmth and your competence. And you do that by taking a deep interest in your prospect, and helping them uncover, focus on and solve their problems – where you can… and being honest about it, where you can’t!
What’s more, if you’re really smart, you’ll even help them solve a few problems with your competitor’s products too ;-).
Perhaps you know all about these ideas?
Yes, most people do, but there’s a BIG difference between knowing and doing – just as there is with exercise, diet and smoking.
How many people in business (big or small) genuinely engage this way with their customers… or their suppliers?
Why would you need to be careful about engaging suppliers?
Because the best suppliers are busy, so you need to sell to them as well!
How often do we really get to know someone?
How often do we seriously ‘engage’ in proper conversations with our prospects?
- What do we know about their life journey before today?
- What’s their family situation?
- What challenges are they facing – at work and at home?
- What do they believe in and value? What makes them tick?
- Where do they want to get to – and by when?
Think about it… when was the last time someone made any effort to get you to know you this well?
Sure, a conversation like this might seem a bit ‘scary’ but this is what making real friends is about.
And we buy services from people, we trust.
That’s just how it is.
Is selling for you?
Well, I’m not sure you can avoid it.
After all, how else are you going to persuade your colleagues, boss, partner, children to your ideas?
No, you don’t want to be ‘salesy’ or ‘cheesy’ but you do need to have (and take) a genuine interest in helping others.
And what could be more meaningful work than that?
Of course, if your products or services are really not up to the job – you’ll need to improve those – and that’s something I can help with too.
Let’s talk if you need help – on coaching for yourself, a talk for your team or around product developments, enhancements or marketing
These are all things I do.
Thanks for dropping in
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