Why is it the sales profession is often frowned upon?
Many times I have heard people say that they couldn’t (or wouldn’t) work in sales because they don’t want to be pushy, slimy sharks.
I understand there are some less than desirable people working in the sales industry, but it is like that in any profession. I think the reality is that people get buyer(s) remorse and it is easier to blame the “nasty salesman” than admit you made an unnecessary purchase.
Why this Stigma will Hinder You in Life
Sales is a lifelong skill!
Applying for a new job? – Selling yourself!
Want a raise at work? – You must sell it to your boss!
Asking somebody on a date? – Selling yourself!
Convincing significant other to move? – Sales!
Raising capital for your business? – Sales!
Finding investors for your Real Estate deal? – Sales!
Convincing co-workers to go where you want for lunch? – Sales!
Seriously, if you think about it we use sales every day of our lives! In any situation where you have a specific outcome in mind and have to explain, or justify, it to a friend, that is sales!
Knowing that sales is a critical, and lifelong, skill…wouldn’t you like to be good at it?
I was lucky enough to have been voluntold for recruiting duty in the Marine Corps. Three years of recruiting builds some pretty solid skills as a salesman.
If you’re in the military it might be worth volunteering to be a recruiter! It won’t be an easy three years, and definitely won’t always be fun. However, it will teach you a valuable skill set which the military does not teach anywhere else!
Below are some of the things that I learned on recruiting duty in order to be able to build a connection, explain the benefits of our product, and close the sale!
Find Common Ground
Match and Mirror
Demonstrate Core Values
Peel the Onion Back
In order to be able to sell a product or service, you must first know what the client needs. The key here is to ask questions and to keep asking until you find their “Why.” See the below example.
Me: “What about physical fitness interests you?”
Client: “I don’t want to be fat.”
Me: “I see, and why is not being fat important to you?”
Client: “My father wasn’t in very good shape, and I don’t want to end up like that.”
Me: “I understand that desire, what about your dad being out of shape is bothersome?”
Client: “My father wasn’t able to a lot of physical activities because of his weight.”
Me: “That is unfortunate, why is being able to do physical activities important to you?”
Client: “My father was never able to play basketball or go for hikes with me, and I don’t want to miss out on time with my children like he did.”
Me: “So if I understand this correctly, physical fitness is important to you because you want to be able to actively participate in your kid’s childhood, and play sports with them? Is that correct?”
See how far down this rabbit trail can go? If you were trying to sell a workout program don’t you think it would be desirable to this client if your program demonstrated how it would get him into shape, and keep him injury free, so that he could be competitive with his children?
Wouldn’t that be more desirable than just stating “This program will help you lose weight?”
You must drill down to figure out what their real desire is!
Open and Closed Questions
Utilizing open and closed questions is an excellent way to get a client talking about what is important to them, and confirm your understanding. Mastering the art of questioning can help you immensely in sales, and with listening/communicating in general!
Open questions – invite open information sharing. These are questions that get your client talking.
“What do you want to achieve this year?”
Closed questions – confirm an understanding. These questions are used in order to get a yes or no answer.
“Do you want to graduate from college this year?”
Ask the Hard Questions
There will be times that you will get a “Spidey-sense” about a situation. In these cases, you must ask the hard question! Not only could this lead to discovering your clients’ real needs, but it could save you a ton of time.
Imagine getting the sense that your potential client isn’t qualified to purchase a house. However, instead of asking them upfront, you continue driving them around to look at tens of houses. Only to find out down the road that they have no credit, cash, or job!
It won’t be comfortable, but you MUST always ask the hard questions when they arise!
Benefits, Not Features
The best analogy I have ever heard for this is; “People don’t care about the drill, they care about the hole.” This seemingly simple concept is lost on many sales professionals.
Auto manufacturers are great at this! If you pay attention to automobile commercials you will notice that they talk about how the powerful engine will excite you, rather than how much horsepower/torque it has. They talk about how driving the vehicle will feel, and how being seen in it will increase your status.
This is the art of explaining the benefits (what it will do for them) rather than features (how it will deliver that result). Your clients only care about the end result!
Ask for a Commitment
Your client won’t buy unless you ask them to!
Your client won’t buy unless you ask them to!
This is necessary to repeat because it is astonishing how many salespeople will give an entire presentation, and never ask for a commitment. What a waste of (your own) time!
Saying “How does everything sound?” does not count as asking for a commitment either! You need to go in for the kill and go in with confidence. The easiest way that I have found is to summarize the benefits of everything you talked about, and then come right out and ask for a commitment, like this.
“To summarize everything today we discussed that physical fitness is important to you because you want to be able to actively participate in your kids’ childhood, and play sports with them. We also discussed how this workout program will get you into shape, and keep you injury free so that you can remain competitive with your children. (summarize all needs, and the corresponding benefit). With all of that being said, when would you like to start this program?”
…Now shut your mouth, and do not speak until after he responds! That might be an uncomfortable, and lengthy, pause but you must let him speak up first. If you start justifying the price, or rambling, it will give him an excuse not to commit. If you truly found the right motivator and demonstrated how the benefits of your program meet that need, the only question he should be asking himself is; “How do I want to pay for this?”
Remember, your client won’t buy unless you ask them to! Don’t leave money on the table!
No Doesn’t Mean No, it Means “Not Yet.”
If your client says “No” or any variation of it. You need to go back to the open questions and figure out what his objection(s) are. Then you must address the specific objection(s) and show how your program will ensure that isn’t an issue!
It would be easy to walk away after the first “No” but you must try to overcome his objections!
Preserve the Relationship, and Follow Up!
Sometimes you might overcome the objection(s) and he still won’t be ready to pull the trigger. If you reach an impasse don’t say something stupid, or get frustrated at your client. That will ensure that he never returns.
Instead, Thank him for meeting with you, give him reinforcing materials to take home and read through, and schedule a follow up 2-3 days down the road to see if he had any further questions.
Then stick to the follow-up!
If he doesn’t want to agree to a physical meeting ask if it is okay if you call him in 2-3 months to see if his situation (objection) had changed, and see how he was doing.
In my third year on recruiting duty, I was the offices’ boss, and no longer actively recruiting. I kid you not, at least ten applicants came back into the office and enlisted just because I continued following up with them! Never underestimate the power of following up with the people that you have already met with!
Following up is important in order to preserve your relationship with the clients. However, it is even more important in order to get referrals!
If you maintain a relationship with all past, present, and future clients, the chances are that you will be the person they refer friends and family to talk to! Referrals accounted for about 20% of my appointments, and enlistments as a recruiter!
Don’t be afraid to ask your client if he has any friends that might be interested in this product/service, at the end of the appointment. You would be amazed how often the answer is yes, and you get a quality referral, and potentially another sale, from this one question!
If They Like You They’ll Join
This was my mantra on recruiting; “If they like you they’ll join!” This was a double-edged sword, meaning that if they want to be like you they will follow your lead. However, it also means that in order for them to like you it is necessary to be a likable person, worthy of being followed.
People get so wrapped up in their sales-pitch that they seem to forget they are also selling themselves! Don’t forget to spend time in personal development, and become a person that is worth knowing!
Selling is not easy, but it is a necessary part of life. If you must sell (which you must) is it not worth dedicating some time to be good at it?
I recommend setting some time aside to read some good books about the art of sales. I would also take the time to work on appealing to your audience. How a client perceives your appearance, and personality will play a roll in your success as a salesman.
Also, don’t become that pushy, slimy shark that gives us sales professionals a bad name!
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