I subscribe to a daily inspirational email newsletter, which doesn’t always spark me as so much “inspirational” but rather a bit preachy. However, from time-to-time, the creator (Jerry Del Colliano) gets me into a light-bulb state of mind. One recent topic was, “People Want to Buy, Not Be Sold.” The writer prefaced his quick snippet of wisdom with the following:
That’s true not only of merchandise and services, but ideas and concepts.
If you have a great idea for your team, spend much of your effort into getting them to buy it from you rather than have you sell it to them. If you have a daughter or son who could benefit from your wisdom, don’t push it, get them to buy it from you.
For companies who produce merchandise or provide services, “sales” is always a top priority. What Jerry is saying—and what we all need to think about—is how you go about getting people to buy during the sales journey.
Rethinking the Sales Process
“Successful sales must begin with the buyer.”
If you Google search “how to be a better salesperson,” you’ll get an unlimited number of articles, blogs, and promoted links that claim to get you to your goals. I tend to trust HubSpot as a resource, and true to reputation, their article “18 Habits of Incredibly Successful Salespeople” has a few interesting points which I’d like to dig into and expand upon.
1) Identify and Stick to Buyer Personas
When revising and strengthening the White Space value prop last year, we spent a significant amount of time working on refining our buyer personas. Why? Because successful sales must begin with the buyer. Who is your audience? What are their pain points? And, finally, what unique properties does your company possess that will help them both solve problems and meet their goals?
This is not a quick exercise. Too broad or too narrow of personas will not lead to happy clients/customers in the end. And, straying from your defined personas might mean you come to neglect the folks who really need your attention.
2) Practice Active Listening
It might seem like a simple thing to do, but just think how distracted we all are on a daily basis. When meeting with a potential (or current) client, you can’t be thinking about your dentist appointment, how you’re going to pay for your kid’s college, or what you’re going to feed your family for dinner.
This is a good example of how you can use active listening to understand how to get customers to buy in—instead of tuning them out and presenting your same old sales spiel. Even if they possess every characteristic of your buyer persona, each client is unique in his or her own way. As HubSpot says, really, truly listening to them allows you to “unlock information that’ll help you position your product as the best option.”
3) Believe in What You’re Selling
“Even if they possess every characteristic of your buyer persona, each client is unique in his or her own way.”
This one can be tricky. Sometimes, you just need a job—even if it means you’re slinging a product you’re not thrilled about. I think I’d change this one to “believe in who you’re selling to.”
When I worked at a local newspaper just out of college selling advertising, I’d much rather have been on the content-producing side of that business. I knew the newspaper needed to sell ads to survive—and that I needed to sell those ads if I expected to keep my job.
In order for us both to succeed, I treated my daily sales calls as “relationship check-ins.” I invested in the lives of my clients (not in a creepy way, of course) and took the approach of not being there to “sell” them on a bigger display ad, but to make sure they had what they needed to effectively run their businesses. In the end, the transaction was technically a sale, but in my mind, it became an exchange of trust.
4) Get 8+ Hours of Sleep a Night
Okay, I admit I added this one slightly in jest. As business owners, managers, salespeople, admin—whatever your position within a company—there’s always one more thing to do before you go to bed. In my eyes, it’s a sign of motivation and determination.
But, we all have limits. I was recently in Hawaii, surprising my parents who were there visiting my sister and her family. It took an outside “intervention” of sorts for me to realize just how much time I spend at my computer—despite the fact that I was on vacation (or, “working vacation” as I’d indicated to clients). My sister decreed a “no work Friday,” which actually almost happened, save a few minor tasks.
We all need to find time to reset, regroup, and refresh in order to properly and healthfully take care of the clients and customers who we support—and who, if we employ the tips above—will take care of us as well.