We’re focusing on the relationship aspect of selling this week. When I attempt to generate revenue in my business or profession, my mindset usually becomes set on performing actions that can accumulate sales leads or prospects. As a result, many times, my results reflect that mindset and I end up with names on a list. Instead, try this: Rather than just finding sales leads, go out and look to create new relationships/friends. Make the process fun and enjoyable. Look for and focus on the things you like about someone and overlook the negative. Because, let’s face it, isn’t that what we want other people to do for us? And even if we meet someone we don’t end up doing business with, we have a new friend and have added another source to our personal network.
By shifting our paradigm and working to create new relationships, it also becomes easier to position ourselves as an educator/consultant. (I cover this more in depth later). Then, as an educator or consultant, you focus on listening to others’ needs, which, in turn, helps you maintain a larger perspective of looking out for the interests of that person, not just the dollar value they may represent to you or your organization. In addition, this can also put us in a position later to help or support people through a crisis or struggle in their life. What a great feeling it is to help someone because we genuinely care about them and want to see them overcome their obstacles, rather than just seeing them as a sell. If we do this, rest assured, the rewards will come.
Special Audio Bonus! Sales expert and author of two award-winning sales books, Jill Konrath speaks about making the choice to excel in sales, blocking out time for learning and being flexible as a salesperson.
That’s all for now—go make a friend this week
This is what we are covering on the topic of Sales this month:
1. Attitudes of Successful Salespeople: The profession, setting your goals, the attitudes of successful salespeople, and getting and staying motivated. This is the basic overview of the profession of selling. Selling is a noble occupation, even though some people think otherwise. In fact, we are all in sales every day. We sell to people all the time. In addition, our attitude and getting and staying motivated are vitally important and will either make or break a salesperson. We covered this topic two weeks ago.
2. Prospecting. Because sales and success are a numbers game, last week we covered how to look at sales from this perspective in order to be successful. We looked at how to get in front of a large number of people so that we can close a higher percentage of sales calls. We also showed you the importance of knowing your stuff—what you need to know about yourself, your prospect and your product. Then we looked briefly at the importance of understanding how to sell to different personality types.
3. Building relationships that position you as an educator/consultant to your clients. In this week’s edition, we will touch on listening skills and making the sale. We will also take a look at the all-important issue of relationships. In selling, as in life, relationships are the most important factor. We don’t sell to companies—we sell to people! People always make the decisions. We will take a look at how to be a great listener and also discuss how to reposition yourself from being known as a salesperson to becoming seen as an educator and consultant who helps people make the best buying decisions.
4. Getting referrals/Negotiation skills. Next week, we will take a look at how to get referrals so that your business becomes ever-expanding. Creating an ever-expanding network of people to draw sales from is the key to a successful sales business. We will also cover the basics of negotiation, with an emphasis getting both sides into a winning position so they can be happy with the sale. We will give you specific skills to get into win-win negotiations.
This week we are covering a few basics on positioning ourselves as an educator/consultant in the sales process, as well as developing our listening skills.
Over the years, the sales profession has gotten a bad reputation, particularly in certain industries. And some of it is deserved because of unethical behavior. That being said, many people today want to stay away from “salespeople.” They don’t want to be “sold.” But that doesn’t mean they don’t want to buy. They want to buy, and they need to buy. But they expect—and deserve—a different kind of relationship. And when we enter into those kinds of relationships with people, we will be much more effective at moving our products and services, as well as building our sales careers.
There are two basic positioning tactics to take. One is to consider and bill yourself as an educator. The other is to consider and bill yourself as a consultant. You see, a salesperson is seen by many as someone who wants to take another person’s money. Educators and consultants are viewed differently. Let’s take a look at each and the benefits that come from positioning yourself in these ways.
The Educator. What does an educator do? He or she teaches others. Educators are perceived as helping others learn so they can make their own decisions. Rather than saying, “I sell widgets to people,” when describing your work, say, “I educate people on the widget industry and the choices they can make to improve their lives or business.” There is a big difference. Who wants to get sold? No one. Who wants to learn? Everyone! Position yourself as an educator. Tell people you are in the education business.
The Consultant. What does a consultant do? He or she consults. The perception of a consultant is that they are a third party. The idea here is to position yourself as someone who consults with people who would like to know and be educated about their options. You work on behalf of the customer. That is key. You work for the customer as a consultant. You help them see all of their options so they can make an informed decision. Who wants to be sold? No one. Who wants to see all of their options? Everyone! Position yourself as a consultant. Tell people you are in the consulting business.
Now let’s take a look at listening skills. It is a fact that if you listen and ask good questions, the customer will tell you what they want. And once they tell you what they want, you can sell to them. Imagine that you sell cars and someone comes on the lot and says, “I am looking for a blue, two-seat convertible under $30,000.” Would you take them to see the large four-door luxury sedans that cost $60,000? Of course not, and yet many salespeople focus on what they want the customer to buy rather than servicing the customer in what the customer wants to buy—and getting the commission as well as the long-term relationship. Yes, your job as a salesperson is to first and foremost listen.
Here are some tips for becoming a better listener. These tips will serve you well in sales—and in life:
14 Tips for Becoming a Better Listener
1. Keep eye contact with the person speaking. Don’t look around.
2. Focus on what they are saying. Allow your brain to process it so that you understand.
3. Avoid emotional responses. Don’t get mad or sad at what they say.
4. Don’t get distracted. Don’t let your mind wander or give your attention elsewhere in the room.
5. Ask mental questions. Think and interact with the information you are hearing.
6. Use your body language to show you are listening. Don’t slump. Sit straight—just like your mother taught you!
7. Nod your head to show that you understand them.
8. Keep your body open—don’t fold your arms. That signals that you are closed off to what they are saying.
9. Lean toward the speaker. This shows engagement.
10. Ask questions to clarify. You want to make sure that what you are hearing is what they are intending to communicate.
11. Don’t make assumptions. Hear what they say and take it at face value.
12. Paraphrase what you hear them saying. Say it back to them.
13. Restate the key points or issues. This will make sure you are on the same page.
14. Listen without interrupting. Let them finish. Interrupting says, “What I have to say is more important than what you have to say.”
Until next week, let’s do something remarkable!
Here is what we have found to be true about sales:
It is always about relationships!
When we think about sales and think through what it really is, we inevitably end up at the fact that selling is a function of the relationship. In fact, selling is always about relationships. Let’s take a look at how to build relationships conducive to selling.
So what is our working definition of sales? The ability to influence others to purchase products or services by helping them change their beliefs, thoughts and actions.
That is selling in its simplest form: influence. Don’t make it any more difficult than it has to be by getting too lofty about it. Selling is just the ability to influence others to purchase.
Well then, how do we influence? There are basically two ways to influence someone to change their beliefs, thoughts or actions. One is by power or coercion. In other words, you make them do it. This is either the use of actual force (literally making them do it) or perceived force (the idea they have that something bad will happen to them if they don’t). We certainly do not recommend power, coercion or force to influence. What is the second option? Building a relationship. When you influence through a relationship, the customer follows voluntarily, and when the customer follows voluntarily, the sell is stronger and their patronage lasts much longer!
Fundamentally, successful selling is about leading and influencing through relationships. The key then is to find out how to develop the kind of relationships that are conducive to getting people to allow your influence in their lives.
Here are the main keys we have found to developing the kinds of relationships that will put you in position to sell more. Now, remember, relationship building is by principle and not law, so these ebb and flow, but the more you practice them, the more your influence will grow and people will follow your lead.
Four Keys to Extraordinary Relationships
1. Your own integrity. That’s right, it begins with you. People will follow you based on two things: your character and your skills. A person with good character and bad skills is a nice guy, but not a sales leader. A person with good skills and no character is a charlatan. A person with good character and good skills is a sales leader! So what is your character like? How is your integrity? Are you the kind of person people can trust and believe in? We hope so, because that is paramount in building relationships! When they believe in your integrity, they will be much closer to following you.
2. Time together. Think of your best relationships. They take time, don’t they? And what got them there? Time. If you want to lead people effectively and build a relationship with them, then time is something you must spend with them. This will allow them to begin to trust you, understand you, like you and follow you. This can be something simple like a regular cup of coffee, or something longer such as a customer-client trip. Either way, invest time in those you want to develop relationships with.
3. Communication. We don’t just mean shooting the breeze, although that is good and needed. Eventually, though, we have to begin to communicate. You know, really get through to the meat of the matter. Relationships are built on getting through to one another, speaking clearly and listening intently.
4. Care. The old saying is true that people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Relationships are built on the care we show for one another. Do you show care for the other person or people who you want to purchase from you? If you do, you will see that they will repay you with more devotion to you and your products or services. They want to know that you care about them, and when they do, they will follow.
Don’t start with a bunch of deep theories about selling or elaborate sales skills. Start with a basic understanding of human nature: People buy from those they have a relationship with. All things being equal, people who have to choose between two people to buy from will choose the one they have a better relationship with. So be that person!
Remember, it is always about relationships!