Selling does not have to be a four letter word and it does not have to be hard. Non-sales people often make the best sales people because they don’t come off as cheesy and because they are disciplined. In order to be successful in selling, simply follow these seven steps and watch the prospective clients pour in.
Most sales advice is for people who embrace their sales-person-ness, but what about those who would never admit they are in sales? Lawyers, financiers, accountants, architects, engineers, entrepreneurs—these folks tend to hate even the idea of selling, let alone admitting that they must ‘sell.’ Yet, they do have to sell and many of them must do it on a regular basis in order to succeed.
In fact, never before has selling been such a critical skill. With people being bombarded with 30,000 marketing messages daily, even the non-sales types must effectively help people find them through all of the clutter.
Here are the seven key tips for those non-sales people:
1. Sales is not a four letter word! Whether one wants to call it ‘business development,’ ‘client engagement,’ or ‘marketing,’ it’s still sales. Get over it. The most effective professionals embrace sales and constantly think about different ways to generate more business. While there are some critical differences between an accountant finding new clients and a software sales person closing the next deal, success in both requires a mindset that is constantly looking for new sales opportunities.
2. Stop being so salesy. People hate being sold, yet they love buying. Most people get in the way of closing their own sales. For example, words like ‘pitch’ and ‘persuade’ conjure up negative feelings for prospective clients. They don’t need to be pitched to work with a new professional, they need to be understood. Prospective clients are looking for an expert who isn’t just smart but ‘gets’ the client’s unique challenges and needs. Even the most non-sales person can get salesy sometimes—stop. Time to begin asking questions and truly understanding prospective clients.
3. Just rapport doesn’t make the cut. Most people have been taught that they should try to establish commonalities to create a pleasant rapport with prospective clients. This is fine, but incomplete. People make approximately ninety percent of their opinion of someone in the first part of an interaction, so it is critical that prospects are both comfortable but also believe that their challenges are understood. The first ten minutes of a meeting is not the time to talk about oneself, but rather, it’s a time to ask questions to understand the prospective client’s challenges.
4. Disqualify those who aren’t a fit. The single scarcest resource when it comes to selling is one’s time. Most professionals are wasting a huge amount of time with prospective clients with whom they will never do business. This is because most professionals are trying to get everyone to do business with them. Rather, understand that at least fifty percent of prospective clients are not a good fit and ask questions to disqualify the wrong fits as soon as possible. This allows for more time to find those great clients who will be an excellent fit.
5. Tell a story. Once it is clear that a prospective client is a good fit, it is time to present how you can help them. As a professional, this is no time for a hard sell, but rather a case-study presentation. In layman’s terms, rather than give a presentation full of technical details, tell the prospective client a story about a similar situation in which you helped the client to achieve his goals. Examples, which can be kept confidential by simply not sharing names and geographical details, are a powerful and underutilized tool to help show a prospective client how you can help them.
6. Introductions are king! Notice that the term ‘referrals’ was not used—this is intentional. When a professional asks a happy client for referrals, it is not exactly clear what is being asked for. Does the professional want the client to just recommend her to others; does she want names and phone numbers? It’s unclear. However, when a professional asks a client for introductions to potential new business, it is clear what is being asked for—actually connect person ‘A’ with person ‘B.’ This distinction is key because as a professional, the likelihood of closing introductions is over five times that of a cold lead.
7. Take baby steps every day. Most professionals complain that they never have enough time to sell, so they don’t—and then they go broke. This is tragic and easily avoidable. Here’s how. Don’t think in terms of making thirty phone calls per day to sell—this is unrealistic and wasteful for most professionals. Rather, be accountable to ask for just one introduction per day. This is no more than five minutes of work in the course of a day, but it can lead to enormous growth. Here is the math on asking for just one introduction per day. One introduction asked for per day leads to asking for five per week or 250 per year. Did you catch that? 250 per year! If only twenty percent of those 250 introductions convert to business, which is realistic, that is fifty new pieces of business all through five minutes of sales activity per day.
Selling does not have to be a four letter word and it does not have to be hard. Non-sales people often make the best sales people because they don’t come off as cheesy and because they are disciplined. In order to be successful in selling, simply follow those seven steps and watch the prospective clients pour in.
About the author
Marc Wayshak is the author of two books on sales and leadership, Game Plan…