Do you have an innate fear of selling. Like, when you are told that you need to sell something, do you feel a cold shiver of distaste and even panic? Often, underlying this can be the fear of rejection, and possibly the fear that you will be perceived as a tacky, pushy sales person, Lord forbid!
The reality is that having some #BossLady sELLING skills will help you in many aspects of your life, and DEFINiTELY in your career.
This is regardless of the job that you do, and whether you actually need to sell a product or not.
The magic happens when you realise that the top sellers in most fields are not at all pushy. In fact, they are appreciated as specialist consultants that help people and businesses to improve. The product or service that they are selling simply becomes a tool that adds value, rather than something that they are forcing onto the unwilling customer. Read how Zanele Khosi is slaying it in the male dominated world of car sales.
How do they do it? Here are the top 5 selling techniques that will take you from perceived-pushy to perceived-value.
1. KNOW YOUR STUFF
Before you can sell anything to anyone, right from a good idea to your boss, through to an exercise regime for your man, you need to know your stuff. So you need to create a list of all the features and benefits of your offer.
Features are the specs. As an example, using the healthy exercise regimen, the features may include; The gym is open from 5am to 9pm; the personal trainer is available for house calls on Wednesdays and Fridays. He charges a flat fee for up to 5 people.
The benefits would be the why-this-is-so-great-for-you points. These are the points that you would use to motivate for your case, aka selling. So, you could say, ‘That means that we can hit the gym at 6 in the morning and you’ll still be able to get to work on time’; or ‘It’s great that you can invite Sanele and Josh to join you for the personal trainer sessions. And it will only cost you 1/3 of the rate each. Plus you’ll have some peer pressure motivation.’
The more you know your stuff, the more comfortably and easily you will be able to get the benefits across.
2. REALLY KNOW THEIR NEEDS
When you understand their trigger points, and the real underlying needs of that person or company, you can highlight the benefits that are most relevant to them. See, selling is helping. Knowing their needs comes down to two key elements; asking and active listening:
ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS
- Upfront, it’s best to ask open ended questions so that you get as much info as possible.
Open ended questions are ones that allow for a whole lot of information sharing.
Generally open ended questions start with ‘Why’, ‘How’ and ‘What’.An open ended example could be, ‘If you had all the time in the world, what would your ideal fitness regime look like?’
Closed ended questions only allow for a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ type answer. Not very useful for moving a conversation forward. In our fitness regime example, closed ended questions (not to be used) could include; ‘Do you realise that you have gained 10kgs since we met?’. Yes. ‘Would you like to start gym with me?’. No. These tend to end the conversation and give you nothing to hang your case on.
Open ended questions aim to uncover the real needs. They take a bit more thought though.
If you are getting into this selling thang, and are keen to better understand open ended questions, a great starting point is this excerpt from Bill Cates book, Beyond Referrals.
- Active listening is sometimes harder than we think. This means that while the person that you are ‘selling’ to is talking, you are listening. You are not preparing your come back, not judging their ‘do’, not wondering who just whats-apped you. The only thing that you are doing is being fully present and actively listening to what they have to share.
With a bit of practice, you will notice that even the most closed up person will share vaLuable info when you are actively listening.
This skill helps in all relationship areas, not just selling.
3.SELLING TO THE DECISION MAKER
Many a sales hour has been wasted selling to the wrong person. They may love all the attention, and share what they think is important, but when it comes time for them to commit and make a decision, they may stall and stall. This generally means that they are not the decision maker. It’s usually best to ask upfront. ‘Are you the right person to speak to about making a decision about …?’, or ‘Are you able to make a decision on …’ or ‘Could you direct me to the decision maker.’ Generally, people are happy to direct you to the right person, unless their ego is challenged by this. You’ll have to use your active listening skills to identify this as early on as possible. That way you won’t waste too much time on someone who cannot help your case along.
Ooh, objections. Here’s where some fear could kick in. It’s easy to quit while you’re ahead. ‘I did my prep work and I asked some open-ended questions. When I spoke to the decision maker. He said that he’s working on this big project at work, and that he just doesn’t have the time to fit it in right now. So, I tried and it didn’t work out.’
Not so quick. When you are building your features and benefits list you’ll be thinking of some of the expected objections, and you’ll plug in benefits that will overcome the most anticipated objections. Most professional sales teams have a ‘Book of Objections’ with counter benefits. These books are designed specifically for their industry and the objections that they most commonly face.
It’s important to get a lot of bite-sized yesses along the way, so that a no at the end has very little to back it up.
If you don’t have a counter benefit for a specific objection don’t panic and don’t quit. Graciously take the info and regroup. ‘Ah yes, I can see how time is a challenge right now. Let me see how we can get around that. It’s great that we both agree how much exercise will help our stress levels and our health. We can figure this time issue out so that we can get on with living our very best lives. I’ll get back to you with some options.’ Now, I’m sure that your man would be less difficult than this, but we’re just going with the example!
5. THE CLOSE
It’s amazing how so many potentially brilliant sales people get all the way here, and then run a mile when it’s time to actually close. Again, here is where fear of rejection could kick in. ‘They really seem to like me, if they say no to me now, I’ll be really hurt. So I’d rather not ask.’
Here are a couple of things to keep top of mind.
- It’s not personal, they are not buying you, but the idea that you are proposing. They will not reject you, but the idea. You can have a million ideas, some of which will be accepted.
- If you have been diligent through this process, chances are they will see you as a trusted consultant. And even if they don’t take this proposal, they will guide you to what will better suit them.
If you don’t ask, you definitely won’t get a yes.
The selling gurus have developed specific closing techniques, from the ‘Puppy Dog Close’ through to the ‘Assumptive Close’. Wikipedia has a great article summarising these techniques. Have a read to see which of them best suit your nature.
The best time to implement new learnings is immediately. Especially those that step you into new, unchartered territory. So, my recommendation is that you identify something that you want to ‘sell’ to someone. Set up a meeting with them in one week’s time. That way you will have your end goal in mind and time to do your prep work.
Enjoy, and please let us know how it goes!