What is selling really about?
and why you simply can't avoid it.
What is selling about?
Well, I guess I’m qualified to offer a view on this as I used to be the UK’s top B2B sales guy at Clerical Medical, a blue-chip investment and pensions house.
Sorry if that sounds ‘braggy’ – I don’t mean it that way.
It’s just that we live in a world where people are ‘famous for being famous’ – as Malcolm Muggeridge once said. And with so many experts who’ve done nothing offering you advice, I thought you’d like to know. Anyway, there it is.
Watch out – the rules are for people who can’t sell
My colleagues used to ask me how I sold so much – because I broke the rules of selling and didn’t ‘visit’ many people!
‘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 truth of it.
If you have a proper conversation with the people you meet – and you follow up properly 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 😉
And I don’t see that fundamental truth changing any time soon – especially on big-ticket, B2B sales.
Sure, you need to work for a business that’s got good products, reasonable service standards and OK marketing**
** And that’s far less important than the marketers will tell you BTW!
And yes, you need to know how to convert product features into customer benefits – which you need to – and at two levels if you sell through intermediaries.
But when you’re sat in front of your prospective customer, a real live person, 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
You need to build trust and help them solve their problems where you can…
… and, if you’re really smart, you might even help them solve a few problems with competitor products too ;-).
Oh, that stuff – yes, you know that, right?
Perhaps you 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 with their customers – or their suppliers?
Oh yes, the best suppliers are busy. So they need selling to as well!
So, how many – seriously ‘engage’ in proper conversations?
Very, very few in my experience.
And I think our digital tech is getting in the way of these real and critically important conversations.
When was the last time you really got to know someone?
- What did you find out about their journey to this place?
- 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?
Indeed, when was the last time someone made a serious 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, right?
And people buy from companies – and people – they 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?
Call me if you need help with this – either coaching for yourself or a talk for your team.
Sales and marketing coaching is one of the things I do.
And thanks for dropping in
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