SALES is one of the only activities I know that will make a business more successful and yet is avoided by most business professionals. If your career or your business could achieve the level of success you desire, why avoid the one activity that could make you a success?
The reason SALES is avoided by so many professionals is the result of two things: 1). They really don’t understand it and 2). They don’t feel good about being associated with it. This article will help you change your viewpoint on SALES so you can build your success with confidence and sincerity.
Why we feel the way we do about SALES
Most of us can cite a situation when we felt abused, manipulated or cheated by someone in sales. And despite the many honorable sales professionals in the world, it only takes a few unpleasant encounters for us to say, “I don’t want to sell to anyone. I don’t want to be viewed as a sales person”!
The facts of daily life suggest, however, that most of us are involved in sales activity multiple times a day. When we share our enthusiasm for a new purchase with a friend, we are selling a recommendation. When we discuss our opinion of current events, we are selling our perspective. And when we convince our boss or colleagues to do something specific, we are selling our ideas. The difference between these events and more official sales activities is that no money or other valued items are changing hands. We do them because we want to provide some sort of help to our connections. We do it because we want to be viewed as supportive or contributory or valued.
These 5 letters can make all the difference
Formal selling is no different. If we possess the right mindset and the people we are talking to understand who we are and what we offer, sales can be a fulfilling, beneficial and noble way to help our business connections and customers succeed.
The key is how you view what you are doing and why. If you look at sales in this manner, using the acronym SALES, it will be easier to practice a more genuine approach and create new beliefs and behaviors about sales.
The ‘S’ in SALES stands for ‘Solution minded’:
People buy things mostly to solve problems. Decisions to buy are emotionally based so when the need to solve a problem is greatest, someone will buy something from somebody. Approaching your customer by helping them choose the best solution for their problem is the best way to use sales to help them achieve success. Even if your help causes them to choose a different solution, they will remember you as someone they can trust. This could (and many times does) cause them to refer others to you because of their pleasant experience with you. Always put your customer’s solution ahead of your need to sell what you have. This solution mindset will take the pressure off of you and create a far greater value for the people you come in contact with.
The ‘A’ in SALES stands for ‘Attitude’:
No one wants to associate with someone who has a poor attitude. If your attitude is positive, collaborative and reflects generosity in your dealings with others, people will seek you out. A positive attitude suggests you enjoy who you are and what you do. This also attracts people who will see you as a preferred source for what you sell.
The danger with displaying a poor attitude is that the vast majority of people you come in contact with won’t call you out on it and will avoid dealing with you in the future. From a sales standpoint, no contact equals no ability to sell. I’ve even seen business owners with poor attitudes try to hire others to sell for them to get around the problem. This tactic might delay the problem but it doesn’t solve the problem. Your attitude affects your overall outlook, your decision making and your ability to be seen as valuable by your customers or community. If you suffer from a chronic attitude problem, address it fast before your business suffers the consequences.
The ‘L’ in SALES stands for ‘Listening’:
The reason it’s so easy to sell ideas, opinions or recommendations to your friends is because you know them. You know what they like, what they value and what they avoid. Over time, talking with them reveals these things. In a sales situation, you must gather this knowledge quickly. Listening to learn about them is the only way to do this.
There’s also a counter-intuitive benefit for listening. The more you listen to someone else, the more they value you. When people feel they are being listened to, especially in a sales situation, they feel validated that they are important to you. Trust goes up and suspicion goes down. By genuinely supporting your customer’s need to verbalize what they want, you will understand them better and be able to help them find the right solution. They in turn will realize the value of working with you and make the decision to buy from you.
The ‘E’ in SALES stands for ‘Engagement’:
How many times have you visited a business only to get aggravated at the non-engaged sales person who is supposed to be there to help you? It happens to me all the time. I don’t know if they are really afraid to approach me or they are only interested in tweeting about last night’s concert! Right or wrong, people make judgments about your intentions by what they see way before anything they hear from you.
Sincere engagement starts with thinking positively about why you are there. You are there to help your visitor solve a problem. Use your smile to convey this mindset. Greet them warmly with a handshake, eye contact and a sincere, “welcome to our ABC business”. Ask them if you can help them find something in particular. Be attentive but don’t hover. If people tend to phone you, think about how you sound when you answer the phone. In all cases remember, customers don’t know how you operate so take the lead and make them feel welcome. Avoiding them until them come to you is a strategy that usually drives them out the door.
The last ‘S’ in SALES stands for ‘Service’:
Every great sales person comes at sales from a service prospective. If I have a great attitude, am courteous when greeting you, listen to you, help you solve a problem and provide world class service, you will most likely buy from me. If not today, eventually.
Service is talked about a lot but practiced very seldom in terms of what’s important to the customer. Frankly, it costs very little to be regarded as offering great service. Most of providing great service involves knowing your customers (listening) and making sure they are totally happy doing business with you (solving their problem).
In a former company I was with, we attempted to market an existing product line in a totally new retail store channel- hardware stores! Since none of the marketing team knew anything about selling to hardware stores, I did a little research. Turns out, most people go to hardware stores not to buy specific products. They go there to solve problems. Once they know the solution the store sells them the product!
Putting it all together
The 5 letters that make up SALES, hold the solution to your avoidance of selling. When you are solution minded, have a great attitude, listen to learn, engage warmly and offer great service, SALES is not something to be avoided. SALES something valuable to be embraced!
Here’s a word of caution!
The thinking and behaviors that prevent you from being comfortable and confident with sales are deeply rooted in past experiences and beliefs. Changing these beliefs into more productive habits requires practice and a real dedication to doing things differently. If you commit yourself to becoming better at sales, this approach will work for you. A great book to read is ‘The Greatest Salesman in the World’ by OG Mandino. It’s a great story that will change your thinking about selling and what it takes to be great at it.
If your profession or business has been hampered by a resistance you have to selling and you want help changing your approach, contact me for a brief chat about where you are and what you need to do.
About the Author:
Steve Smith is an experienced business & executive coach and President of GrowthSource Coaching based in Orange County, CA. Steve works individually with business professionals in critical growth areas that lead to top tier results for the organizations they run. Steve graduated from Frostburg State University with a degree in business management. In his spare time, Steve writes articles from a variety of business publications, travels with his wife on his motorcycle and cares for his adopted greyhound.