Recently, I was speaking with a client about an opportunity he was pursuing that just wasn't going anywhere. He wanted to know what he should do about it. As he explained the situation, my client mentioned that the prospect he was courting told him he wasn't moving forward with the deal because the problem his company had just wasn't that big of an issue. Moreover, it wasn't really costing him a lot of money to not solve the problem. My client wanted to know how he could convince this customer that the solution he was offering was the right solution for the problem.
Unfortunately, this is a situation I hear about all too often. In their earnestness to land a sale, many sales professionals resort to using persuasion to make their pitch. Instead of taking on the role of an expert and trusted advisor who guides a prospect to a decision -- one of three types of sales personas I describe-- they become the kind of salespeople few people trust or want to work with.
If you want to sell like an expert and not like a salesperson, here are a few tips to follow if you want to achieve lasting success.
There's a strategy we cover in Same Side Selling called F.I.T, or Finding Impact Together. It's a simple strategy based on the idea that if you can identify a customer's deeper-level problem and it's a problem you're good at solving and the customer is motivated to solve that problem, then you've found a fit for your product or service.
In many cases, the salesperson thinks it's his job to convince clients they absolutely need whatever it is he's selling. And that just isn't so. It's a bad strategy that makes the salesperson come off as the pushy, slimy salesperson nobody wants to be around. Instead what you want to think about is:
Does the client or prospect have a problem that you're really good at solving?
If they do, do you feel that you have the resources in your business to help them address those problems?
What happens if the prospect doesn't solve that issue?
The answers to these questions give you the foundation for further conversations.
Coach, Don't Coax
In the case of my client who wanted to know how to convince his prospect to buy his solution, it wasn't a fit. I advised my client to take a step back because at that point he was more passionate about solving that problem than the prospect was. An expert understands that if he's more passionate about solving the problem than the client is, the sale isn't going anywhere. The motivation to change just isn't there.
The idea is not to coax or coerce someone into buying your stuff. That's what salespeople do. By contrast, the expert coaches a client to make the decision that's right for them.
So don't coax the sale. Instead, coach a decision.
Experts ask more questions than give answers. They ask questions to understand their clients problems better.
What if you focused on asking your clients questions like: How are we going to know if this is successful 6 months down the road? How are we going to know whether or not other people in the organization feel this is successful? What happens if we don't solve this problem?We start asking questions that have more to do with whether or not this is important to the client and whether she sees it as something worth investing in. Experts are really skilled at asking these sorts of questions and managing the discovery process.
Effective sales is not about persuasion or coercion, it's about getting to the truth as quickly as possible.
Zip It And Listen
There's an old adage in sales that says: When you're talking, you're buying. When you're listening, you're selling.
Experts are masters at active listening. Not only are they skilled at asking the right questions, they understand that the best information can be gained when they 'zip it and listen'.
That means that by keeping quiet and listening, they show genuine interest in understanding what's motivating the client to make a decision and change.
Practice and Rehearse
The first chair in an orchestra practices and rehearses hundreds, thousands, of times before they perform in front of an audience. So do experts in sales.
Experts practice and rehearse. They spend hours preparing for and rehearsing how to respond to questions and possible objections in sales meetings.
Compare that to salespeople who show up to a sales meeting without any rehearsal upfront. Why don't they practice?
There are all sorts of reasons of why people don't role play and practice, but the ones that do achieve dramatic results and accelerate the sales cycle in business and waste a lot less time on bad opportunities.
If you spend an hour a week practicing, you will become outrageously successful in how you manage those meetings and the results you get.
It's Your Turn
What strategies above will you use to elevate your sales career? What tips and tactics have you used to help you sell like an expert?