Sales does not have to be the scary proposition many small business owners make it out to be. If you think about it at its base level, you’ll realize that it’s simply two people communicating with each other. Prospects and customers are sharing their desires, and sales people share how their products or services can provide the required outcomes. [Read more on the buyer's journey here.]
Customers purchase products and services for the results they provide. This can be a real challenge for entrepreneurs that have been taught that selling is all about their products or services. It’s not. It’s about saving time and money, preventing problems, solving problems or creating opportunities. That’s what customers want. Your product or service is simply a method to get the results.
Think about it this way, if we take the words “selling,” “objections” and “presentation” out of the equation, the “selling” process resembles a communication process. The “objection” response becomes a conflict resolution process and “presentations” become storytelling.
Wrapping Your Mind Around Sales
Your role during the sales process is to educate your prospect or client on how your product or service provides the best possible solution for their need. [Read more about the hierarchy of needs here.]
What? Yes! Sales is about mindset… just like so many other aspects of starting or growing a business. In fact, if you exhibit several of these success traits, you have a much better chance of improving your sales skills:
- Maintaining confidence in yourself and your product or service
- Understanding the importance of active listening
- Balancing probing questions with qualifying questions
- Remaining motivated to continue pursuing the sale
- Setting stretch goals that connect back to your overall business plan
- Ensuring the entire sales process – including post sale care – is well planned
To be successful in sales means continually developing these traits; remaining sharp and focused on the pursuit are critical. It’s why top salespeople (aka rainmakers) seem to have no trouble closing sales and finding new prospects.
Active Listening is a Hallmark Trait of a Rainmaker
A rainmaker is someone who seems to magically bring in sales. No matter what circumstances are thrown their way, they still shine.
While it does take time and effort to become a salesperson of this caliber, it is not impossible. Of the traits mentioned above, the most important for rainmakers is active listening. People love to talk and tell you their problems, which means it’s the rainmakers responsibility to take notes and create solutions that meet their needs.
It comes down to asking the right questions; questions that require more than “yes” or “no” answers.
By asking probing questions, your prospect has no choice but to go into detail about what they need. Probing questions normally begin with the words how, who, when and why. Learn to come up with a variety of questions that you can easily apply to different situations.
Once you’ve clarified your prospect or client’s needs it’s time to educate them on the best way to solve it with your products or services. Your solution does not always have to be immediate. It is acceptable to leave the meeting with the promise of delivering a proposal/quote/estimate in the next few days.
The bottom line is that a great rainmaker will learn how to solve problems for customers by showing rather than telling. If you do this, they will eagerly await your follow up.
Don't Forget to Follow Up
One of the biggest mistakes you can make during the sales process is not following up with your clients and potential new ones. Just because they may not buy during your first meeting, doesn't mean they won't eventually. Many sales are lost due to lack of follow up.
There’s really no excuse for it either. We have far more tools and resources available today than we did 15 or 20 years ago. We have the internet, with access to all sorts of social media platforms, as well as email. There’s also no need to be tethered to a desk when nearly everything can be done via mobile device.
The great thing about using these methods is that they are quick, cost effective and simple to use. Previously it may have taken you days to reach someone by phone. You are always directed to voice mail and no-one called you back. Today this has all changed. You can now post to your client's Facebook walls, you can send them a text message, and you can even record a personal video to send in an email. On top of this, you can now use Skype, Facebook or Google Chat or Hangouts to connect with prospects and clients via video conferencing – even while on the go.
Statistics have shown that it often takes up to seven touches from you before someone decides to make a purchase. So, if your customer doesn't buy during your first pitch why wouldn’t you follow up?
Remember, rainmakers follow up with current customers and potential ones, using each follow up to build deeper relationships that ultimately end in more sales.
So... are you ready to become a rainmaker? Tell us all about it in the comments!
About the Author
Andrea Hubbert, principal at Hub+company, is a versatile integrated marketing communications professional with one primary passion: to empower creative individuals and their companies to design and market the business lives of their dreams.