We all know that presenting rates as one of the greatest fears in life! For many business people any element of selling rates just as highly.
If you are someone who feels that way, it is understandable that, when the dreaded moment of stepping into sales mode approaches, your anxiety levels begin to rise, you might feel shaky, your words sound strange and distant and an alter ego starts to speak. When the ordeal is over your sales persona evaporates and the real you returns. It sounds like something from a horror film!
Selling really does not need to feel this way. It is true that some people are naturally comfortable at selling, however, it can be learnt. And here is how.
Think about another area of your life where you are confident. It is likely that you have had success which feeds the belief that you are good at it. You may have a well proven approach which serves you well time and again. And you have probably practised the skills to be able to repeat your success – and indeed made mistakes along the way. The same principles can be applied to achieve sales confidence – mindset, process and skills, in that order.
Get this bit right and both you and your prospects will start to believe in you and in your product.
What negative thoughts fill your head at the prospect of selling? ‘I hate doing this,’ ‘they’ll think I’m trying to flog them something,’ ‘It’ll sound contrived.’ Clearly none of these would be helpful! Become aware of the negative thoughts in your head.
Instead, try, ‘ I know I could help them solve their problem,’ ‘ I know my stuff and others have been very happy with the results,’ ‘I’d love to find out if we could work together.’ No doubt you have words that would work for you.
Keep a success diary – and read it regularly!
Think of other areas of your life where you have sold successfully – getting a new job, making friends, drumming up sponsorship or persuading family to go on a particular holiday. It has worked when you know you have something of value to trade. You have something valuable to offer customers – start believing it and so will they!
As buyers we go through a series of steps in our decision-making process. However, traditional sales processes ignore these and plough relentlessly towards the close – an experience which has shaped the perception of selling for many of us. By tuning into and responding to the steps in the buying process you subtlely shift the focus on to the buyer and take the spotlight off yourself. The result is a better sales experience for the customer from a more natural version of you.
- When the buyer’s need is developing
- Be an obvious source of information or advice. (Online, on the phone, in person).
- Build your understanding of their priorities
- Weave in relevant proof of your credentials to be the provider of choice when they are ready to buy.
- Help them to really define their problem or need and the criteria for the solution.
- Show your understanding of all the options they could choose and the merits of each
- Develop the relationship – Know, like and trust.
- When the buyer is assessing options and risks
- Demonstrate a clear and targeted value proposition for your solution
- Provide strong evidence of how it would be a best fit, with little or no risks
- Empathise with their concerns
- Suggest solutions or changes to minimise their perceived risk
- Communicate – again – a crystal clear summary of what they are buying and why
- When the buyer is making their decision
- Provide clear, easy next steps.
- Help them to take those steps – ideally to the very last step of the purchase.
- Resolve issues.
- Deliver perfectly!
Sales skills are a collection of communication skills which you already use, to some extent, in other areas of your life. They are not some sort of black art! Briefly, if you can do the following you are well on your way to sales confidence:
- Nurture the relationship by being genuinely interested
- Ask good questions which build understanding for you and your prospect or client
- listen and check your understanding
- Use sales support tools, such as presentations, appropriately rather than automatically. Again, it shows you are tuned in to your customer.
- Propose next steps which reflect a best fit solution in your clients terms, rather than easiest solution for you!
Selling doesn’t have to be a horror show for you or your customers! See it as a series of small steps. Prepare well then focus on the customer.