We’re all salespeople, whether we realize it or not. We’re selling something every day, and some of us choose to make a career of it. My sales career started with babysitting when I was 12. I knocked on the neighbor’s door and secured my first sale: a babysitting job and a paycheck for the whole summer.
As a chemistry major, I quickly grew bored of lab work, and knew I wanted to work the business side of things, to be out creating value in the marketplace. I went into Pittsburgh with my briefcase and copies of my resumes to look for a job. A headhunter I met on the street offered me a position that was straight commission, and I took it. I worked the phones and got my first paycheck six weeks later.
Soon after, I got a far better job, a commercial outside sales role selling salts, solvents and acids. That’s how I started my 35-year career in sales, which eventually led me to start my coaching business. Today I help medical device B2B sales teams create magnetism in their sales processes and develop connections with their authenticity.
There are possibilities and opportunities everywhere. Your potential is unlimited. Looking back on my beginning, it was pure desire and decision that caused my success. The behavior of truly living starts with a burning desire for more. You, too, can be successful in sales, whether that’s as a professional salesperson or a new business owner.
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1. Be an avid listener and a skilled detective looking for problems that you can solve.
Get into the spirit of selling! Remember why you started the business and what you are really selling. Who is your ideal client and what transformation do you facilitate? Selling is a service to help people solve problems. You’re there to help build a bridge that closes the gap between where they are and where they want to be. Uncover where the dissatisfaction lies, the magnitude of the problem, the consequences if they do nothing about it and the impact if they do. Get the client’s opinion of the problem. Is this something they are willing to tackle now or later?
If you’re not sure how to do that, realize that the most important part of selling is active listening and investigation. You have to determine what exactly the problem is first, and that must happen before you ever start talking about solutions. The minute you offer a solution too quickly is when you will get the objections and experience the kiss of death.
Making assumptions about what somebody needs before they state they need it will insult your buyer, shut them down and you will get shut out. Instead of making an emotional composite with them to connect, presenting too soon will activate their RAS (reticular activating system) trap door and cause them to separate from you.
Sell rather than tell. Objections surface when your solution is not properly aligned with your prospective client’s problem. Until you get them to voice their problem in detail and their opinion of the problem, you have not earned the right to offer a solution. Listening, acknowledgement, and validation builds trust.
Think about how a police officer would investigate a crime scene. A good detective asks a lot of questions with keen observation. What happened here? Why is it done that way? Who’s involved? When does it occur? What are the motives? As you begin to understand the customer’s problem, state it back to them to verify your understanding, build trust, and make them feel heard. Identify the task motives and the personal motives.
Only after you’ve done all that listening and questioning and if you know it will be a good fit should you present a solution. “Are you aware there’s an easy solution?” If it’s not a fit, let them know and offer any advice on where they can get help.
2. Make sure you’re prepared for the sales call.
Remember, people want to buy from someone who takes a professional approach. Professionals prepare, plan and then perform.
As you prepare, ask yourself these questions:
- “How do I want to show up and be remembered in the marketplace?”
- “Am I willing to raise my standards to improve my performance?”
- “Do I want to master my sales process and play the infinite game of sales like a pro?”
If you’re meeting someone in particular, take the time to do your research. If you don’t know much about the person, the company, and what they do for their company, you will irritate the buyer and wasting an executive’s time is disrespectful.
Time is always more valuable than money because you can never accumulate or save it and you never get it back. Executives will not give you a second chance if you waste their time. On the flip side, if you create value for them, you will have opportunities for repeat performances.
Use the following checklist to get yourself prepared:
- Gather your background information on the company, the products and the four buying influencers (economic buyer, technical buyer, user buyer, & coach)
- How will you open the call?
- What questions will you use for the investigation stage?
- What’s your plan to demonstrate capability?
- What are your key selling messages, advantages, and benefits that separate you from other suppliers in the market?
- How will you gain a commitment?
Remember —order creates orders!
3. Build connections with your authenticity and customize your solution in alignment with their problem.
Imitation is suicide. Don’t try to imitate how you see others sell. Many new to sales suffer from Imposter Syndrome, which produces call reluctance which of course translates into no sales.
Be you! You are the cause of your sales and a sale is earned, not made. Build your self-confidence. You learned how to walk, ride a bike, and drive a car right? You can learn how to become a master salesperson also.
Take the time to educate yourself on the principles of selling, what you do in the sales process and why you want to do it. Once you understand the what and the why, then it’s easy to show up authentically and present in your own way. By bringing your authenticity to the party, you will build strong connections with your prospective buyers and create your unique value.
Remember your WHY. Your dharma or purpose is why you are here and it is the way you use your unique gifts and strengths to serve others in your unique way. Make your clients feel special and appreciated. Tailor and align your solution to their specific problem. This doesn’t mean you’re making customized products for every single person. It just means that you’re positioning your product or service in alignment with their problem. Every client’s situation and problem is unique. Let your buyer know you get them and they get you. Understand their problem so well that you can point out all the areas of synergy.
Use psychology to get them on board. You plant the seeds of suggestion and activate the picture of their desire achieved in their mind by saying, “Can you imagine what that would look like? Feel like? Who else would benefit? And why?” The customer will say, “Yeah, I think that if I did this, that would solve the problem.” You keep guiding them in the right direction: “Great. Well, this will help you, don’t you agree? Would you like to move forward now?” Take them on a path of agreement across the bridge to their promised land. Then, you will have earned the sale, and the customer feels great about it, too.
Related: 6 Leadership Traits for Becoming a Successful Entrepreneur
I’ve seen a lot of books about the mechanics of the sales process, but, after 35 years, I’ve found the wisdom to know that it’s more important to study the principles. Universal Laws can help you solve any problem. The spiritual laws of success will help you build strong relationships.
Understanding these laws will enable you to create magnetism in your sales process and develop powerful connections using your authenticity. The game of selling is 95% mindset and 5% mechanics. Mechanics judge everything by the limitations of past experiences. But the creative principle of life is thought.
When you examine the principle of any problem, you can always find a solution because you are dealing in the present. The more problems you solve, the more sales you will earn. Selling with spirit is a behavior, a movement, a way of living. It will help you grow, give, serve, and finally transform into a successful salesperson.