People hate sales. It might be the salesperson, the idea of being sold to or for some, merely hearing the word “sales.” Many of the professional service clients I coach in a sales capacity call the word “sales,” marketing just to avoid being grouped together with the local car salesman. So why does sales have such a bad rap? Mainly because of the traditional way that sales have been conducted over the past 50 to 75 years. The traditional model of sales consists of one individual convincing another to buy his product or service. This typically occurs in the form of a presentation or proposal.
The unfortunate truth about this model is simple. The salesperson’s job has always been to sell, not necessarily put the potential customer first.
When looking at the most successful salespeople today, we notice something radically different in their approach. No selling! So, how does someone sell a product or service without selling anything? The key isn’t in selling, convincing, or closing. The keys are in building trust, asking great questions and qualifying the prospective client in order to see if there is a “fit” for both parties. Here are some suggestions to help you stop selling and begin walking your prospective clients through the decision making process.
Step 1: Building Trust
Find a natural affinity with your prospective client. Do some research prior to speaking with him to uncover where the areas of common interest might be. Try Google or LinkedIn for starters. If that doesn’t help, be sure to ask about “how he got into the business” or “what he loves about the industry he’s in.”
Step 2: Set an Agenda
Most salespeople go directly into a sales pitch because they didn’t ask for permission to ask questions at the beginning of the meeting. If the key to understanding a prospective client’s needs is through asking probing questions, failure to set an agenda will hurt your chances to find out what he is really all about.
Step 3: Stop Selling- and start asking!
The most important aspect of being effective during a sales meeting is in asking the prospective client about the issues that need solving. If you can uncover 3-5 issues that are deeply affecting the prospect’s business or personal life, you will have a more focused presentation later on in the meeting.
Without understanding the prospect’s issues, costs, impacts and compelling reasons to buy your product or service, there may be nothing left to do but blindly sell to them. Selling blindly is the primary cause for the bad reputation that sales professionals have developed. By focusing 100% on the relationship with the prospective client, asking great questions and driving your presentation to solving their issues, you will always be in position to practice the art of selling without selling.