Earlier this week, a client of mine complained to me that he just wasn’t making enough sales. Too many people were saying, “I’ll think about it” or just not making the decision to buy. He was confused and concerned. He wasn’t sure what was getting in the way of the sales. I had a pretty good idea right away. Before we get into that I want to tell you a little story about being on the other side of the sales equation…
The day we bought a new car
About six weeks ago, I bought a new car. I didn’t mean to. I think my wife tricked me into it. “Come and have a test drive,” she said. Four hours later I’d signed the papers. We were planning to buy a new car. I just wasn’t planning on buying on that particular Saturday. My wife was.
All jokes aside, the 4-hour experience was quite interesting. I’m probably not your average punter. I actually like the sales process. I like to investigate what the salesperson does when selling. And this kid pulled out all the stops.
Everything started well. The test drive was smooth. The car is a great car. It practically sells itself. But I wasn’t letting this guy get off easy. “Sell it to me,” I said. He proceeded to tell me the ins and outs of the vehicle. Not once did he ask what I was interested in. Strike one.
We got back to the showroom and started talking turkey. He started by telling us how important it was for him to make the sale. It was end-of-month. He needed one more sale to make his quota. Blah, blah, blah. Strike two.
My wife and I ignored all this. She used to sell cars. I teach people how to sell. We’ve seen it all before. And truth be know, we were already sold as long as the price was right.
We haggled a little. He said, “I’ll have to check with my manager.” This is called deferral to a higher authority. It’s in every sales manual. It was expected. My wife and I smiled politely. He was nervous and probably just following instructions.
I almost walked out when he came back and said, “Well, I can’t believe he went for it!” Strike three!
In the end we bought the car. But it wasn’t due to good selling. It was because we knew what we wanted and what we were prepared to pay. Our salesman didn’t have to try to pull all those slick manoeuvres. They just weren’t needed.
This experience encapsulates how most people feel about the sales process. It’s because we see this kind of approach that we don’t want to be seen as salespeople ourselves. After all, who wants to be put in the same category as this kid?
So, if you feel uneasy about selling it’s no surprise. And that is the big problem you – and most others – have when it comes to closing more sales… you’re just not comfortable with the role.
Now, back to my client. He was unwittingly the victim of not wanting to be a salesperson. This meant he didn’t do the right things at the right time to close the sales. The unfortunate thing is that when this happens is not often obvious. We don’t even realise that the problem is ourselves.
Changing the way you think about selling
The first step in improving your sales results is Identification. You must identify that it is you that has to make the improvement. You must identify how you feel about selling and what it is that is holding you back from closing that sale.
Are you seeking approval?
Are you afraid that people will not like you?
Do you not want to seem pushy or salesy?
Do you not like salespeople?
The way you feel about sales and selling is critical. If you have negative feelings about the whole area, you will struggle to succeed.
So, first identify what’s going on inside your head.
The second step is Acceptance. You must accept that, at present, you are not the most confident, nor comfortable seller. And you must commit to changing your feelings and approach to selling. It might sound trite but accepting that the issue is more about you than them is essential.
Once you’ve accepted that you have to change it’s time to move through the third step: Adaptation. To truly change your results you must change how you sell. You must change what you say, how you say it, and ultimately realise that you have to sell.
This all sounds pretty high level right now: identify, accept and adapt. So, I want to share with you a few ways that you can adapt and see quick results in your sales efforts. However, please understand that adapting your approach to sales might fail if you still harbour negative feelings toward to art and science of selling.
Two ways to increase your confidence
Confidence is critical is sales. Your prospects can almost smell if you’re nervous (like my wife and I at the car showroom). So, you must approach every sales presentation from a position of authority and confidence.
Prepare. Make sure you know every little thing about what you are selling. Have all the answers to every question that could possibly be asked. Most of all understand the value of what you are selling.
Be the authority. They are coming to you for assistance. Therefore, you are interviewing them rather than being interviewed yourself. Take the lead and control the discussion. Make the process about your determining if they are right for you rather than the other way around.
Two ways to show your true value
When you are selling a service you are really trying to fit your solution to your prospect’s problem. It’s not about you at all. It’s about your service and what they want (and need).
So, don’t talk about you. Talk about them.
Ask questions. Find out what the real motivation behind their interest in your service is. The more you know about them, the better you can determine if they are a fit. When they fit, sell.
Your value is relative to the prospect’s desire for a resolution to their problem. Once you have determined how important the resolution is you can guide the conversation to the point of making the right decision for them.
Show importance. Part of your questioning should uncover how important it is that a resolution is found. If it is not important you are both wasting your time. However, if it is truly important then you must do you best to help your prospect. That means offering the solution.
If you hit objections you can always come back to how important the resolution is for your prospect. If it is truly important the value they see in the resolution will outweigh the cost.
Two ways to boost your conversion rate
Your conversion rate is the number of sales you make relative to the number of leads you generate. If you sell 1 in 5, your conversion rate is 20%. Sell 4 in 5 and your conversion rate is 80%. Obviously, a higher conversion rate is better for you. It means you can make more sales with fewer leads.
Pre-qualify. Sales can be a time consuming activity. So, don’t waste your time talking to the wrong people. A whole lot of time can be saved by pre-qualifying your leads. And this will also boost your conversion rate. A pre-qualification process sees you introduce yourself to the prospect and also introduce what you do. You give them enough information to make a decision about having a conversation with you about buying. You need to give enough information to be sure the person you are talking to is motivated to buy, prepared to pay, and ready to make a decision.
You might pre-qualify by building rapport and authority via shared content, you might talk about your service, the results, and allude to price (or even explicitly state it). You choose. And test and measure the results. Remember, you are in charge so only talk to those who are ready and motivated to buy.
Make it easy. Continually refine your sales process so that it is very, very easy for your prospect to buy from you. As soon as they make a decision to buy there should be no more thinking required. Just get their payment info. That’s it. Done. If you have too many service options confuse ensues. Make it easy to buy. Have no more than three options, and always strongly recommend one of the options. Guide your prospect toward to best decision for them.
I remember my wife using a very simple pre-qualification strategy when she was selling cars. As customers walked into the showroom, she’d say something like, “Hi there, are you looking to buy a car today?” With that one question, she established the expectations of the engagement and had enough information to know in which direction the conversation would progress.
One last thing…
All selling ultimately comes down to your ability to ask for the sale. If you are not prepared to ask for the sale you won’t get it. I can’t tell you how many sales have been lost to the fear of asking. Don’t worry about hearing “no” as you will certainly hear it. You will hear both nos and yeses. It’s a numbers game. So, ask for the sale.
Set yourself a solid foundation. Build your confidence. And then get out in front of people and sell.