If you’re like many people, you want selling to be a timeless body of knowledge that you can learn and then use… forever.
The truth is, times change. And selling has to change with them!
Here are eight examples I’ve seen:
1. War analogy language: “Nail them”, “Annihilate the competition”, “Bring the big guns with you”, “Attack”, “Nail ’em”, even “Ask people to be our DOGS”. Do you think ANYBODY wants to be with someone who takes that sort of aggressive approach? Even if you have something great to offer, the behavior that flows from language like this is people moving away from, not toward, you!
2. Pushy attitude: Maybe you’re doomed before you start. If you think you have to “get your foot in the door” you’ve begun with a negative – NO ONE wants another person trying to push their way into their lives!
3. Talking rather than listening: Notice whether you’re more interested in telling others about what you have than you are in learning what they’re doing, and how they’re doing it, and what they want to have happen. Selling is not telling!
4. Lack of curiosity: I’m convinced that almost no one is curious any more. And that’s a sales killer. You have to be curious about more than “Do you want to buy what I have to sell?” – it’s better if you’re curious about what your prospective buyer does now in the area you work in, and where they want to go. When you express a real interest, many people are pleasantly surprised – they expect a salesperson to be pushing, not listening.
5. Bad questions: We know that questions are key to selling effectively, but if your questions are simplistic (“Do you already own one of these?” “Do you have someone with whom you are working on this?” “What’s your budget?”) you’re missing opportunities to really engage your prospect. If she already owns one, works with someone she trusts, or has no money, why is she talking with you? Participating in a conversation is a sign of interest!
6. Closing too fast: Some people have been taught “ABC: Always Be Closing”. So they’re always asking, “Would you like to get started with this?” Asking people to buy too soon tends to cut off otherwise interesting conversations.
7. Forgetting to close: This is epidemic among people with high-level skills, advanced degrees, and prestigious resumes. They have lots of conversations, and uncover all sorts of challenges their prospects are facing with which they might be helpful… or things their prospects would like to have…but they fail to ask their prospects if they would like to begin working with them, personally, to address that PAIN or pursue that aspiration!
8. Committing the unpardonable sin of selling: Many of the people I meet who have to do it absolutely HATE selling. Some can do it successfully, but many, many others cannot. The image of the pushy used-car salesman exists all over the world, and no one wants to be that guy (or gal). No matter how updated your selling skills are, you can’t allow yourself the luxury of disliking the selling part of your job; people pick up on that, and it’s a turnoff.
Here’s a discipline that I have seen work successfully to move people past this big obstacle to selling success: tell yourself that, when you’re selling, you’re not about pushing people, convincing them, or arguing your case. Instead, you’re there to be of service.
You want to find people who can benefit from what it is you have to sell, and help them to understand the opportunity you represent to them, so they can be big boys and girls and decide whether they want to take advantage of that opportunity. At the same time, of course, upon first speaking with you, they are unlikely to understand the opportunity – and they are probably very careful about what they say to salespeople, believing that, once they ask questions or reveal specifics about their situation, a salesperson will be likely to latch on to them and not let go.
So your challenge is to keep the conversation going long enough for you to understand their specific situation, their challenges, and then how they might benefit from what you offer. Share that, and, at that point, they are likely to be asking you for details.
By Julian Bush