Time to set the record straight about sales and sales techniques. There tends to be a negative connotation surrounding sales. It is often intimidating for some when considering entering a career in sales.
When hearing the word “sales”, it isn’t uncommon for people to think about someone going door-to-door selling a service or product. Or maybe you picture the last time you were approached by a salesperson in a store. You might have felt annoyed or bothered.
But I’m here to shed some positive light on sales techniques by offering tips, insight, and humanizing the topic altogether.
Coming from someone that had no intention of getting into sales whatsoever and someone who now will probably always remain in the industry, I’d like to ease your mind about sales.
The truth is, selling is human.
What does this even mean?
When you break it down, everyone in life is selling something. Teachers are selling their students on lessons. Ads that pop up while you’re doing a Google search are selling you on needing those new pairs of shoes. Your personal trainer is selling you on why you shouldn’t drink a glass of wine with dinner every night. Every company is selling you on why you should work with them via their website and other mediums such as social media and emails.
How do businesses successfully do this?
By creating websites and content that reflect your personal brand. This is why it is extremely important that you hone in and capture your audience the right way.
Remember…first impressions are everything!
The things your brand says, and the way someone views your brand can make or break that first impression.
Your website is essentially selling your brand on your behalf. It’s giving people an option of whether or not they want to call you up for their next project or product. Whether you are a sales novice or not, it’s helpful to view your brand from an outside perspective. Ask yourself…Would I buy this? Would I feel compelled enough to overlook the competition? Should I spend money at this company?
Sales is in fact, persuasion. And sales is everywhere, all the time.
I was first introduced to this idea while reading Dan Pink’s To Sell Is Human. The idea is that we are all selling something, whether it be ideas or techniques, opinions, or objects.
So, why does it have such a bad rep?
Let’s debunk some common misconceptions that you may have been introduced to regarding sales.
Sales is deception
Don’t get me wrong, there are people out there who unfortunately sell products or services without providing their customer with enough knowledge to make a sound decision. However, any successful salesperson in these modern times knows that providing customers with enough information actually provides comfort. There should be nothing to hide when it comes to what you’re selling and you should sell it with full transparency and confidence. It’s actually a goal of the person selling to ensure that they do what they can on their end to make sure their customer is satisfied and that they’ve created a relationship founded by trust.
Sales requires little skill
Anyone can be successful in sales, right? So easy a caveman could do it? Right?
This is something I learned 90 days into my first sales role. In fact, my favorite thing about sales quickly became the psychology behind it. What I learned as I progressed and learned the trade was that learning the way people think as well as their buying habits is key.
Some of us make purchases on a daily basis and there’s likely an emotional tie to whatever it is we’re buying. Tapping in to those emotions and thinking about how you personally make purchases can open many doors when selling.
In the same vein, you can have all of the confidence in the world, but without a strategy and proper knowledge of the product or who you are pitching to, you can lose sales faster than you can blink an eye. It is true, practice makes perfect in terms of learning how to navigate objections and different conversations, but all could be lost without the combination of the right details and skill in your approach.
All sales people are “pushy”
This statement could not be more untrue. In fact, the most skilled sales people are purely consultative. Asking a number of specific qualifying questions to figure out if their product or service will be a good fit for you. If making a purchase with them will not benefit you after all, they will know to move on and maybe even provide a recommendation that might serve you better.
For example, did someone introduce you to something that you didn’t even know you needed? This is the case when someone has a genuine interest in your needs and illustrates how their product or service fills that need. This is the best case scenario for both parties. I think it’s safe to say that no sales person enjoys being pushy by any means or feels comfortable coming off that way.
Now that some myths are deflated, let’s get into some pro tips to selling.
Learn everything there is to know about your product or service.
This is going to be first on your to-do list.
It will only benefit you to study and know the product or service you are selling like the back of your hand. This is where your confidence will come into play. When you know the ins and outs of something, you will naturally convey your belief and conviction while speaking intelligently about what you’re selling. This will bring comfort to your audience and maybe even some fear of missing out. Any question that comes your way about your product or service will be quickly answered by you without having to waste time asking someone else.
I have been told many times that time kills deals. Rather than waste precious time on tracking down information that you should already have, give your prospect every bit of information they need to make a decision.
So much credibility can be lost by hesitation surrounding a lack of information.
Be genuinely curious.
We give you bonus points for being a generally curious person by default. Knowledge is power!
The more you know, the more you grow. Think about this when learning about your product or service, but also when you’re learning about your customer.
This was a lesson I learned while reading the book, How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.
Six lessons to learn from Carnegie:
- Become genuinely interested in other people
- Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language
- Be a good listener
- Talk in terms of the other person’s interest
- Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely
Following these six principles changed my sales game, led to even more growth in my process, and helped me better understand buying habits. I learned that if you can make it all about them, you are simply guiding them along in their decision making. You’re arousing an interest in them that they may not have had before.
Sales is never about you and your wants, or your quota. It is about your customer…what they want, what they need, and how you can help them. Being genuinely curious will not only gain their trust and show them you care, but will also uncover anything you need to know to help them make a buying decision.
These six principles should make sense when you look inward and think about your own buying habits.
How would you feel if someone was genuinely interested in your needs and wants? You might be more inclined to hear them out if you feel like they care, that you aren’t just another number.
Be an Expert On buying habits
Keeping up with and sharpening your knowledge of consumer buying habits should be an ongoing thing if you want to remain competitive. Much like school, sales is learning and buying habits are constantly changing simultaneously with the world around us.
Some publications you can subscribe to:
These will cover everything from business and market trends, consumer behavior, new products and services, and more. Consume these with your morning breakfast and always stay in the know.
One of my favorite lines from The Little Red book of Selling by Jeffrey Gitomer is “People don’t like to be sold but they love to buy.”
Here is where you can have fun with learning the psychology of selling and buying habits.
Gitomer argues that you shouldn’t be focused on your pitch, but rather you should be focused on finding their pain point and explaining how your product or service can fill that void. That customers really just want answers to their concerns. Solutions to their problems.
This goes back to diligent qualifying and listening, but you can take it a step further by considering why people buy what they buy.
Remember, a lot of purchases have an emotional motive behind them. Have you ever bought something because you were convinced that you needed it? Or that your life would improve if you bought it?
So, while you’re thinking about the positioning and messaging behind your product or service, try and tailor it to your target audience. How can their next purchase with you improve their life? And ultimately, what will it do or mean for them?
Robert Cialdini goes into depth about the psychology of persuasion in his book Influence.
He refers to six tactics as weapons of influence when trying to have an impact on persuading someone to say yes:
An example of this would be providing someone with a sample and giving them something to try before they buy. We might feel more inclined to offer something in return if something is given to us.
- Commitment and consistency
An example would be asking someone how their day is going and them responding positively. After they agree to having a good day, it might soften them up to the point of hearing out who is on the other end.
- Social Proof
This tactic reminds me of the idea that we are all sheep. We often engage in something if we see others enjoying it, we buy things that celebrities use.
The idea here is that we are more prone to buy something if we find that person physically attractive, someone that we relate to or that is similar to us, or someone who compliments us, or someone we’re familiar with. It’s easy to buy from someone that we like.
A simple example of this would be taking someone more seriously that pulls up driving a BMW. This person might be perceived as successful and this thought might occur with you realizing it. Another example of this is the subtle power of titles. A director might hold more weight in your mind than a manager.
The way I view scarcity is similar to FOMO (“Fear of missing out”). For example, If we are told that there is a limited number of a particular car made, and we want this particular car, we might be more compelled to grab one of them before someone else does. As humans, we naturally enjoy a chase, and if we think there might be some barriers to acquiring something, we might view it as more attractive.
Overall, this book is sure to take your sales acumen to the next level, and it even has some proof behind it. Author Robert Cialdini even pursued a career in car sales to implement these tactics and use them out in the field.
This might sound like common sense, but this pro-tip is just as important as the rest. Regardless of what you are selling, you are inevitably going to face some rejection. It’s important not to take any kind of rejection personally, no matter the extent to which it might hurt your feelings.
However, what tends to happen is the amount of rejection compounds until you lose some of your confidence.
You might have a day where you start out confident as ever, in the best mood possible, ready to conquer your pipeline. You work hard the whole day, exhausting your efforts and getting nowhere, not being able to land a deal. Naturally, your happiness level might be affected by all of these “no’s”. The problem with that is bringing your emotional baggage into the next call.
In the same vein, you might have a day where every lead you touch turns to gold, and your product/service seems to be selling itself. Why is this? Well, after one “yes”, you’re going to feel a lot more comfortable than if you got a “no.”
If you go in with the disappointment from the previous conversation, in the back of your head you might be already expecting another no. You must wipe the slate clean after every pitch/sales conversation before moving on to the next one.
People buy from happy people, plain and simple.
Sales are omnipresent in digital marketing and is everywhere
The copy you write and place on your website is a form of selling.
The ads you create, another form of selling.
Your instagram posts…those email ad campaigns…all forms of selling!
Sales exists everywhere and it’s not going anywhere, anytime soon.
The next time you write your next piece of copy for your website, use some of these tips to guide you to persuasion mastery.