Sales by far, is one of the most difficult jobs there is. It is a never ending cycle of goals and quotas reached through networking, generating leads, presenting, cold calling, warm calling, emailing, connecting, following….etc…
As soon as you reach your goal for that month, it starts all over again. Do a great job, and your quotas are raised the following year.
Some people believe that salespeople are born and not made. Others believe with proper training anyone can have a career in sales. I fall somewhere in the middle and believe that anyone can sell, but in order to find a sales career rewarding and lucrative, one must genuinely find true joy in solving people’s problems.
Regardless of which category you fall, if you’ve been in sales long enough, you’ve developed what’s known ‘in the biz’ as a Sales Toolbox. The toolbox consists of strategies, techniques and tactics that help you make contact, qualify, overcome sales’ objections, and close the deal.
For years, at their core, these techniques have changed very little because for years, what makes us buy has changed very little.
If you’ve read my last post, you know that two things have drastically changed the way we now make buying decisions: 1) 24/7 access to high speed wireless internet allows us to research products and services and read opinions from fellow consumers and 2) the recession has all but killed brand loyalty and has made us distrustful of advertising and salespeople in general.
Despite those changes, what is still true is that we still want to buy from people we know, we like and we trust.
What’s changed though is what makes us feel that we know you, like you and trust you.
Below is a list of sales techniques, behaviors and strategies that you must stop doing, and stop doing now. Each fosters either distrust, dislike or unfamiliarity …or all three.
Here we go:
1) Stop dressing to kill
As salespeople, we used to be constantly told to dress as high end as we could afford. The logic: Well-dressed salespeople are viewed as successful and people want to do business with successful people.
Because of all the company financial scandals of recent years, many no longer view outward signs of wealth as necessarily positive. Instead of thinking: “Wow, there’s a hard working successful guy!”, many think “Who did he step on to get all that?”. The image of the big three automaker CEO’s taking a private jet to their bail-out meeting in DC is forever embedded in our minds.
Today’s rule: Dress as your customers would. Dress to make them feel comfortable, not to make you look like a fashionista.
2) Stop avoiding price talk
Another little goodie we’ve always been told is “Whoever talks money first loses”. This is so untrue today because most likely, your potential customers have already done the research and know pretty much how much your or similar services cost.
Not answering the money question is a sure way to develop a sense of distrust in your prospective client.
If your pricing structure is complicated, give a range no matter how large the spread. Saying “Our services range anywhere from $1200 to $4500 per month depending on options” is a far more genuine reply than the old classic “The price will mean little to you since you don’t know what you are actually buying yet”.
Another situation where this applies is when applying for a job. If the application requires an expected salary, for years we’ve been told to respond with “Salary negotiable”.
Today, resumes or job applications that do not list salary requirements are often tossed in the trash before they’re ever seen by the decision maker. It’s a simple matter of following directions. If you can’t follow directions on the application, how will you follow directions as an employee?
3) Stop asking for referrals
After closing a sale, most salespeople will say “If you know of anyone who could also use my product, please give them my name”. And you know what the customer does? Nothing.
He has enough to do without looking for sales leads for you!
Try this approach instead: Do a bit of online research (Linkedin, Twitter, G+ etc…) and determine who he knows. Then call him and ask for an introduction to a specific person.
Now that is a manageable task for even the busiest exec and will more likely result in a qualified lead for you.
4) Stop being a pest
Here’s another old sales rule : Persistence pays off.
Not anymore. Constant phone calls and emails just annoy the living hell out of people and makes them not like you.
Try staying in touch periodically but without mentioning the prospective sale. Invite them to a networking event, send them an industry-related link to a press release or post a comment on their blog.
It is still true that “out of sight is out of mind”, so stay in sight, but don’t be a pest.
5) Stop giving out phony referrals
Almost every salesperson has done this at one time or another and it always backfires.
A phony referral is a referral made to impress the recipient, not a referral of an actual person who has expressed a need for a product or service. Often, the object of the referral doesn’t even know they are being referred, doesn’t want the product and is going to get really annoyed when they start getting sales calls.
This is a surefire way to make people not like you and not trust you.
6) Stop asking disingenuous, leading questions
Customers are now too sophisticated and well-informed to fall for these little gems. Many even find these questions insulting to their intelligence.
Here’s a few classics:
- “On a scale of 1 -10, how close are you to making a buying decision right now?”
- “How important to you is your future/free time/family?
- “You DO want to take advantage of the special pricing available only today, don’t you?”
- “How would you like to pay for that, cash, check or charge?”
- “What keeps you awake at night?”
People want to feel that they are buying, not being sold.
7) Stop selling crap
If you are in sales long enough, at some point you are going to sell a product or a service that you just don’t believe in. It’s either a crappy product, or its a good product in theory – but it doesn’t actually work, or its overpriced. Or maybe all three.
Don’t do it. It’ll hurt your career. It’ll hurt your future. Most of all, it’ll hurt your soul.
Almost every successful long-term career salesperson I have met has a story about selling crap and how they had to eventually walk away. Often they gave up high commissions and great benefits to do so. But the cost was just too high.
At the beginning of this post, I wrote how I believe great salespeople are not born or taught, they are simply people who find true joy in solving people’s problems. Crap doesn’t solve anything.
Ok, now that your Sales Tool Box has some extra room, what do you fill it with?
How about honesty, availability, responsiveness, conversation, transparency, and integrity?