I Don’t Know How to Sell… Can I Really Do It?
by John Zettler
In his book – “To Sell is Human” – Daniel Pink’s research yields that 1 in 9 of us are formally “in sales”. Sales meaning we’re trying to sell a product or service to someone. Pink goes on to suggest that the other 8 of us are also in sales whether we like it or not. We pitch ideas to colleagues, we try to convince clients of something, and we try to get our children to do certain things as examples. Pink suggests that we’re actually selling up to 40% of the time.
Recently we’ve met with some clients to talk about developing their Sales capability. On more than one occasion during these meetings we’ve had people ask us, “Can you really teach me how to sell, I don’t know how and I’ve never done it before?”
The good news is, if you’re willing to be yourself, be authentic, focus on building relationships, collaborate with clients, and generally do what it takes to make the client happy, you can sell. That’s the price of entry, the other good piece of news; selling is actually about a process and I’m about to introduce you to what that process is.
If we’re all selling in one form or another, what is required to be great at it?
1. Build the Relationship – One of the biggest mistakes people do is assume they have the credibility and trust to sell their product or idea before they’ve actually earned the right to do so. To effectively build a relationship you need to:
a) Become genuinely interested in the other person. If we talk only about ourselves and what we can do for them and how great our product is, we’re not doing this well. The best way to learn about what a person or organization is going through and challenged with is to have them tell you.
b) Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves. I mean a “good” listener. That means we’re not thinking about our response to what the other person is saying, or the question we want to ask them, it means being present and giving your full attention to the other person.
c) Be authentic and passionate. People are smart, they can see right through phony pitches. Do what you love to do and sell what you can get behind. Whether that’s a product, service, or idea, be authentic in your delivery and let people see your passion.
2. Discover What they Need – Before you can offer your solution, you must first discover what the client actually needs. Your goal here is to gather information and to do this you need to ask powerful questions and actively listen to uncover the four needs areas – Desired Result, Requirements of the Sale, Cost of No Action vs. Payoff of Action, Decision Makers and Emotional Drivers.
3. Create Value for Your Client – You’re in the conversation because the client believes you can help. Once you’ve discovered what they need, you need to move to clearly and concisely identifying what you can do for them. Here are some ideas to consider:
a) Facts – What are the facts about your solution that are meaningful to clients? Here’s a fact: Dale Carnegie has been around for 103 years and we’ve been constantly re-inventing ourselves and our offering
b) Benefits – What are the benefits of your solution and how will that help solve the problems identified in the questioning process?
c) Evidence – Evidence DEFEATS doubt. Develop a list of facts and benefits statements that are verifiable with evidence.
4. Be Prepared to Hear Buying Hesitation – Very rarely are you going to pitch your idea/solution and the client is going to say “sign me up” on the spot. As such you need to understand how to handle hesitation.
a) Cushion – If you hear or see hesitation in the client, the first step to responding is to cushion. A cushion is a neutral statement that neither agrees nor disagrees with the hesitation. Example: My team is happy with the product we’re currently using. Cushion: We hear that a lot.
b) Clarify – Next we want to clarify the hesitation by asking a non-threatening question. Example: Do you think the team would be willing to learn about a new process that would…?
c) Cross-Check – Next you want to confirm that the specific hesitation you heard was the only one preventing them from moving forward. Example: Is there anything else causing you to hesitate?
d) Trial Close – As a question to determine if the objection has been resolved. Example: Do you think your team would be okay with that?
5. It’s Time to Gain Commitment – You’ve worked hard to get to this point and many think it’s uncomfortable to ask for the commitment, but if you’ve successfully built the relationship, asking for the purchase should be easy and natural.
We’re used to hearing the acronym in Sales, “ABC – Always Be Closing .” And with that acronym has come some negative perceptions about the word “sales” and the types of people that do it. That may have been the case 20 years ago when consumers were at an information disadvantage. Back then, the sales person always knew more about the product than the consumer did and had easy access to that information. Consumers didn’t have the internet to do their research and relied on the sales person for information. Often people had poor experiences with their sales person and the perception has never changed.
Daniel Pink suggests there is a new ABC in Sales – Attunement, Buoyancy and Clarity. The process I’ve identified above matches perfectly to this new ABC. Attunement – seeing things from someone else’s perspective, Buoyancy – How do you stay afloat when dealing with rejection (hesitation), and Clarity – Making sense of a murky client situation and solving problems they may or may not know they have.
You’re an expert on your product or service. If you’re willing to change your approach and be focused on the client/customer instead of yourself, you can and will be successful in sales.
If you are still hesitant, Dale Carnegie’s Sales Training: Winning with Relationship Selling goes into much greater detail on what I’ve defined above and our team of experts can help you become great at selling.
John Zettler, Director, Talent Strategy
& Development, Dale Carnegie Training®
Contact me at 905-826-7300 x 235 or email@example.com