5 Tips for the “S” Word (Sales)
The thought of engaging a sales person comes with a lot of mental baggage for me. Images of untrustworthy, bait-and-switch con-artists usually come to mind. I can’t help but associate sales with shady car dealers from the 1970’s or the infomercial giants from the 90’s.
Here’s the problem. Most of are selling something for our respective companies and organizations. So, how do we close the gap between the public perception of sales and what it is that we truly offer the world? Here are 5 tips for becoming a better salesperson without the slime:
- Lead with Ears and Not Assumptions. The first steps towards becoming a great salesperson is to listen well. Stay away from entering sales conversations with packages in hand and assumptions already made about the what the client/customer needs. Learn how to listen well, ask good questions, and take great notes. Don’t offer solutions to problems they are not trying to solve.
- Focus on Informing the Customer. Our company works hard to make sure the customer has enough information to make informed decisions about the services or products they actually need, whether or not they choose to work with our company. While this sounds risky to some, we’ve found that educating the potential client/customer is far better in the long run for everyone involved. The last thing you want is to hurt your brand by having clients/customers come back and complain to you (and their network) about how they felt ill-informed in making a good decision.
- Stay Transparent through the Process. This assumes that we are well aware of what we can or cannot provide to our clients/customers. Don’t fake knowledge or ability to execute. Most clients/customers will understand that you can’t do everything well. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen well-intended vendors promise something that they did not end up delivering. Be honest and communicate your specialties and the areas in which you may look for further support in executing the services or products you’re providing. Most of our clients/customers have expressed their appreciation for our transparency during the sales process.
- Communicate Clearly on Deliverables. Work hard towards clearly communicating what you’re delivering to the client/customer. This takes a lot of time and work, but keep in mind that people rarely hire on generality. Most want details. Granted, you won’t know every single detail on deliverables ahead of time (especially with services), you can do the work of outlining and clearly articulating objectives, timeline, and semi-detailed deliverables. Get in the habit of asking clients/customers if they understand your offering.
- Keep Things Relational. At the end of day, longevity of a business relationship is often rooted in personal relationship. I try to keep in mind that closing the loop on a transaction is not the goal of a sales engagement. Experience has shown over and over that focusing on relationship ultimately benefits everyone involved. Our company has seen clients initially decline our services only to come back months or years later because of friendship. When people sense that you are for them regardless of a contract, they will be more prone to stay in touch and figure out ways to collaborate in the future.
Bonus Tip #6
I think it’s really important for companies and organizations to remain active online by contributing and commenting on topics related to their respective fields of focus. This affords us a channel through which we can serve others and build a brand that remains accessible and worth making a remark about. It’s not so much about self-promotion as much as it is an opportunity to build meaningful relationships with the public, many of whom happen to be potential clients/customers or friends/family of potential clients/customers. While sales conversion might not be the primary goal of social engagement online, it sure becomes a great by-product when we focus on helping others with great information, insights, and opportunities to connect.