Nothing happens in any business until something is sold. Think about it for a moment. It doesn’t matter what you do for living – whether you are an employee or employer. Everything related to your income (unless you’re a government or non-profit employee) operates on the sales of products and services.
Sales is very core of business. Yet many people tend to shy away from selling because they have a negative belief attached to the process. Lots of people think of the sales profession as being sleazy – and it’s hard to fault them. They envision a used car salesman using blatant persuasion to get a buyer. But that’s not the way a sales professional operates. It’s not about manipulating people or tricking them into buying. It’s really about sharing information, solving people’s problems, closing gaps and helping people. Did you catch that? Sales is essentially about serving others.
Most people won’t make a buying decision until someone asks them to do so. You’ve got to ask people to buy to get them to move forward. But the thing is, buying whatever it is that you’re selling should be the natural conclusion of solving the customer’s problem. You’re not there to get the sale — and thinking that you are only puts pressure on yourself. Instead, consider that you are really there to help people. By default, the more effective you are in helping people, the more often you will get the sale. This approach makes for happier people and easier sales.
The masses have the wrong impression about salespeople because most sales people are too focused on getting the deal. Their focus is on the transaction. They are “me” focused instead of “you” focused. They see dollar signs and commissions and they don’t see the real human being on the other side of the table with a problem that they could help solve. They are focused on their own gains — rather than helping the customer get what they want.
Productive selling today is more a matter of developing positive relationships with people. Sales is all about interaction – if you suck at people skills, you’ll suck at sales. In today’s arena, relationship selling is the name of the game. It’s more about being a consultant and solving problems and creating value for other people than racking up big numbers. That’s the key. Sales is not about pushing products – it’s about creating value for others, usually in the form of helping them overcome a problem.
You need to service people in the way they want to be served. Don’t go in thinking you got to sell them. No matter what it is you’re doing, you’re constantly selling. We’re always trying to get people to walk a road of agreement with us – nothing wrong with that. It’s totally the way we live. In every situation in life, we want agreement and sometimes agreement is hard to come by. But chances are that’s because we’re doing it the wrong way.
Sales is about preparation, building trust and sustaining trust. It’s about asking the right questions and about getting to the root of the problem. It’s about helping people solve problems and using effective communication to do so. But at the core, it’s about serving people, not about commissions earned. Funny thing is, this change in focus can produce dramatically different results in the sales ledger.
Today’s champion salespeople understand the process and realize that sales are always about somebody else. It’s got nothing to do with your results – although your results are impacted in a significant way.
The secret to sales success is to reverse-engineer the process. In other words, start with the desired outcome of the customer and then go backwards. What is it they want? Help them to see the steps to getting there. One of the requirements is that you are in shape emotionally and physically. You’ve got to be fit to have the stamina to do what is required. Nothing is more important than your own physical health and conditioning. Sales can be a challenging game. When you’re healthy and strong, that game gets a whole lot easier.
Be ethical in all you do. This is the complete opposite of the sleazy salesperson stereotype. You know when things are right and you know when things are wrong. If it’s wrong, don’t say it and if it’s wrong, don’t do it. Forget about your own immediate needs and focus on your customer. Maintain your integrity and develop your knowledge about the market and your product to the extent where you are a true expert. This alone can make a serious difference in your results.