If you own a business, how eager are you to sell what you provide? Fact is most business owners would rather give up their first born than engage in selling what they offer. It’s uncomfortable, it’s awkward and rejection just plain sucks! Over the years, sales techniques have run the gamut from high pressure to manipulation and trickery, all causing customers to think of ‘selling’ as something under-handled or unsavory. The emergence of social media has changed the way people want to do business making the practice of traditional ‘selling’ even more unattractive for the business owner who is already paranoid about doing it.
So how do you treat a vital part of your business operation that you don’t really want to be part of?
The reality is that without sales or a purposeful approach to selling; most businesses won’t stay in business long. It doesn’t matter how good your product or service is. If you can’t convince people to pay you for it, you don’t have a business, you have an expensive hobby!
Business owners who fear having to sell what they offer have the option to pay someone else to do the selling for them. Professional sales people who understand the importance of this discipline usually do very well for themselves and at some point in their careers, seek high paying commission assignments to maximize their income potential. What separates them from everyone else is their mindset about selling. They understand the elements that produce sales success and they are totally comfortable engaging people in this process.
Here’s a tip for the resistant business owner. You don’t have to be a highly polished, smooth talking sales professional to make ‘selling’ work for you.
In fact, if you resist the need to sell all together, you might also be forgoing the simple act of ‘asking for the order’. Customers know that you’re in business to sell what you offer so overlooking their desire to buy sends a poor message.
You can make ‘selling’ a more comfortable and successful pursuit if you work with the following approach.
1. Think of ‘selling’ as helping people find solutions:
People will buy from you if they believe that what you have is the right solution for their problem. Before you can determine this, you need to understand what they want before making a recommendation. Take the time to ask about their situation and listen for buying signals. Then play back what you heard before suggesting something you offer. If your business can’t provide the right solution, be willing to suggest something else. You may not earn the sale right then but you’ll probably impress them to the point that they find a reason to come back or refer someone else to you.
2. Treat ‘selling’ like a conversation, not a prepared speech:
The first rule of selling is to develop rapport. You can’t do this if you’re busy launching into a lengthy history of yourself and a list of what your company provides. People know that you are in business to sell things. They just want to know that you will listen to them long enough to understand what they are looking for. If you make the first move, as in cold calling, ask them a question to determine their level of interest or immediate need for what you have. If they don’t need or want anything, be respectful of that and move on. Having a conversation is not debating someone or trying to wear them down so they’ll relent and agree to a free estimate of some kind.
3. Successful ‘selling’ can be accomplished without a heavily scripted presentation:
You don’t need a written script in order to guide the conversation in the right direction. You do need to have a plan of how you’d prefer the conversation goes and a few options depending on the responses you get. The best sales people I have ever known or worked with spent 10% of the conversation asking the right questions and 90% listening to the responses. The listening part is where the clues are about your customer’s intentions. In place of a written script, be prepared to practice your conversation and get comfortable with the dialogue.
4. Successful ‘selling’ means knowing how to deal with the word ‘NO’.
If you’re fully engaged in ‘selling’, you’re likely to hear variations of ‘NO’ as much as you want to hear, “I’ll take one of those”. Remember, if you’ve had the right conversation and they say ‘NO’, they’re saying ‘NO’ to your recommendation, not you. The first ‘NO’ also may open the door to another recommendation that they say ‘YES’ too. Again, if you’ve opened up the conversation by attempting to build rapport and understand what they want, hearing ‘NO’ just means they’re still looking. I’ve had businesses call me a week later with something I actually said ‘YES’ to. Even if the solution wasn’t perfect, the fact that they thought enough to follow up was enough to close the sale.
Bottom line, you can become more comfortable and successful with ‘selling’ and become rather good at it if you treat it more like a conversation with someone you care to build a relationship with than if you treat potential customers like walking wallets!
Selling is necessary for a successful business. Embrace it and you’ll be better at it!