Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash
As a top sales performer and leader, I’ve taken countless top-notch sales trainings during my career. Some were days long, some were weeks or months long and many cost thousands or tens of thousands of dollars. I learned techniques, tools, and strategies to sell that have helped me succeed, build sales organizations, and refine processes that set people up for repeatable success.
I can boil all of that training and my years of experience down to three simple things I can almost guarantee aren’t written in your sales process.
These three things are 100 percent responsible for every win I’ve had, been a part of, or witnessed in the sales world.
This is hands-down the most important one.
Teddy Roosevelt said, “People don’t care what you know until they know that you care.” Some of the slickest salespeople I’ve known cared only about closing deals and were shocked – time and time again – when they were outperformed by someone less sales oriented, but with a background in service or client management. However, the people who care are the people I expect to succeed.
Think about it. Most of us like to buy, but none of us like to be ‘sold’. We naturally gravitate towards people who care more about what’s best for us. They are the people who are always looking to add value and be of service. Making a sale is simply a biproduct of how much they care about the people they’re working with and we can feel it.
The great news is this: You can teach anyone who cares to successfully sell.
The bad news? You can’t teach someone to care. Whenever I was hiring or moving people into sales roles, caring and a generous attitude were the first thing I looked for.
Skills and processes can be taught. Attitude can’t.
When you look at a sales process for an organization, there are lots of steps: Make the call; Ask Questions About Their Needs; Follow up; Offer Pricing; Get the Contract; Close the Deal.
I’ve never seen, “Actively listen to them” written down. It should be.
Even companies that do a needs assessment to understand what their client is struggling with don’t stress listening enough. The value of a needs assessment is not the opportunity to see what product or service fits the client the best. The value is the chance to actively listen to what their challenges are, what matters to them, and what they really need.
It’s so rare that a salesperson listens to clients that by doing so, you will stand out in their mind as someone special they can trust, that makes them feel heard, and whom they can partner with.
One example was a prospect who years ago was bidding out business to me and several other companies. Each of the other vendors tried to give the client the lowest price. On the other hand, our pricing was 10% higher than anyone else’s, because it included higher level servicing than normal, as well as guarantees on percentage of on-time deliveries, timeliness of reporting, and 24/7 service hours.
We won the business because of listening to the company’s number one priority, which was service. They were willing to pay more for what they valued.
Making it Easy to Say No.
In my years of selling, I earned the reputation as, ‘The Salesperson Who Sells with No.’
“April says no to everything and then they really want to buy.” Well, that wasn’t exactly it.
I really wanted to help my clients and for them to get what was best for them, even if that wasn’t what I had to offer. That meant at every opportunity, I made it easy for them to say my product or service wasn’t right for them.
If something served them better, I wanted them to have it. We’d part as friends. Often, they never said no, but giving them that opportunity allowed for much more candid communication. As a result, my pipeline was always full of prospects that were very interested in moving forward with us. If they weren’t interested, they could easily opt out and honor their time and mine.
As an added bonus, some of those who dropped out early came back later when the timing was better for them. Even more surprisingly, some sent me referrals based on knowing if my product or service wasn’t right for the person they were recommending, I’d let them know.
Many say sales is a numbers game and a law of averages, I disagree. I believe sales is an opportunity to help others and offer value in straightforward, important ways. Your sales process sets the stage for how your clients will experience your product or service in their relationship with you. Adding these three simple things will set that stage, reinforce the foundation of your sales team, and make big difference in your company’s overall success. Additionally, they will create a positive impact on your culture and your client’s long-term satisfaction.