Many sales people are taught that having killer instinct and being aggressive are prerequisites for selling products and services. Yes, you should be proactive about what you provide, however, I feel that there’s a higher level of success for those that become experts in their area rather than mere salespeople.
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Due to the overarching pressure of being on commission, those of us who are in sales typically will jump for joy (on the inside) when we come in contact with a viable prospect. It is at this point that some will develop tunnel-vision and stop at nothing to close that particular sale. Losing this prospect may cause you to miss your numbers for the month or quarter, right?
Understandably, there is a lot of pressure to simply sell, sell, sell! The problem with this setup is that the consumer can often sense that they are being hunted and are scared off at your first attempt to “close”.
As a solution, I believe evolving into an expert rather than a product-peddler will make all of the difference in your performance.
Here are some thoughts with moving to the next tier of your sales profession:
Stop selling widgets and start selling solutions. On occasion, I will have a client balk at my rates; they may indicate some other company has lower rates. My reply usually goes something like, “If you’re merely looking for cheap prices, I can direct you to a few other firms; however, if you are looking to solve…” I then would outline their underlying rationale for acquiring the service – not the service itself. By doing this, I shift the mental burden to the client. The pressure, in this instance, comes from the conscience of the client – not from you (the salesperson).
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Objectivity garners trust
If you are to become an expert in your area, you must be objective – especially when it comes to competing offerings. I once visited an electronics store and asked the salesman to contrast their product with another store’s line. “It’s trash!” he replied. I then began to site information I read about the competing item, however, he simply repeated the two-word rebuttal. This exchange made it clear that I wasn’t getting objectivity. Did I expect him to endorse the other store? No, however I wanted him to educate me about the differences. After all I wouldn’t have been in his store if I wasn’t a prospect. Unfortunately, he probably thought that he’d get me to move faster by cutting to the chase. In reality, his lack of objectivity and tunnel-vision pushed me away.
Tell me what to do
I recall a client stopping me midway in a presentation and saying, “What should I do?” This simple question caught me off guard. Apparently my even-handed presentation and emphasis on solutions-focused selling hit home faster than I expected. This customer quickly understood that I was an expert and was willing to do what I suggested. A sign that you’ve moved from mere sales person to an expert is when you’re no longer begging clients to sign up – to the contrary, they’re clamoring for your suggestions and advice.
Walter Dailey is a proven creative strategist. He’s the lead consultant and executive producer for Dailey Sound Vector, a creative services organization that specializes in jingles, radio ads and marketing campaign development for small and mid-sized businesses. Walter is finally on Twitter. Follow him here: @wrdailey