We’ve all experienced them… the salesperson that talks you into buying something you clearly didn’t want at the beginning of the ‘sell’ and most certainly didn’t need. After a few of those lapses in willpower that allows us to give in to the pushy or convincing salesperson, many develop a behavior-changing negativity toward any salesperson that seems even slightly aggressive in their tactics. More than that, it’s not uncommon to develop an aversion, and negative view of the sales profession altogether, to the point where it’s the last thing we’d want to be doing. Many would even go so far as to make judgments about the personalities and morality of the people who work in sales, based purely on their choice of career. If you own a business, and hold any of these negative views about sales, then you face a dilemma. Your business depends on getting buy-ins from clients and on making sales, so it’s imperative that you start to view sales in a positive way, and that you start to embrace it.
So, how can you change your organizational practice, and the way you view sales? Here are a few suggestions:
1. Be honest, aim to over-deliver
It’s important to understand your product or service, and the extent and limitations of your offer. When speaking to prospective clients, see your conversation not as selling, but as sharing the benefits of what you’re offering. Always aim to over-deliver, as having knowledge of this intention will change how you think about sales, how you interact with clients, and your experience of the process.
2. See people as people and don’t harass
Put yourself in the prospective client’s shoes, if you’ve shared the benefits of your service or product and the client is not even remotely interested, don’t harass them. Believe me, if someone feels that they have been forced to buy from you under pressure, and against their will, they will not be a happy customer nor they will be a customer that share their positive sales experience. Don’t chase them down with endless sales pitches and don’t think of everyone as a prospect or a number… think of them as people; in this way you won’t dehumanize the sales process and you stand a greater chance of giving people what they really want, getting genuine buy-in and more dedicated and loyal clients.
3. Develop an interest in your client
Try to move your focus towards finding out the truth of your client’s situation. When you do this, you will be in a better position to meet your client’s needs, and most importantly, you’ll be able to assess whether your organization, product or service is a good fit for the client or not. If you do this and there is a good fit, you build trust, and this is what will get you ongoing sales. If your focus is solely on making the sale at all costs, then you stand to lose sight of your moral footing and the importance of honesty. If that happens, and truth is stretched to make sales, integrity is automatically compromised.
4. Be realistic
Bear in mind that rejection is an inevitable part of life, and more so, of sales. If you are being honest, and genuine, then rejection in sales can be a little more difficult to bear, and can at times be taken personally. There are two ways to deal with this. The first is to understand that rejection comes with the territory, and that it’s nothing personal; just think of every time you’ve been uninterested in a product or service and had to say ‘no, thank you.’ The second is to set realistic sales goals, so that when you don’t make a sale, it’s just part of the process. It’s a key to remember to avoid sales behaviors such as defensiveness, if you feel you’re being rejected, and to remain professional. Focus on the benefits and the client need, and if the client isn’t interested, think of each time you haven’t been interested in a product or service and recognize that there’s no expectation that you will make a sale 100% of the time.
5. Cold calling doesn’t need to be cold
When designing your sales scripts, remember that the call should be about the client. Think about how you open your calls and conversations; don’t ramble on immediately trying to get a sale, but rather open by asking questions. Listen, and be sincere in your responses. Keep the dialogue open, and be careful not to be pushy. Throughout your calls, keep the focus on what the client needs, and on solving their problem. Try not to overcome objections in an overly aggressive way, instead, listen to them carefully, even if the person is being rude. If they are telling you to leave them alone, then that might be the best thing to do. If you think that you could still sell to them, then that’s a judgment call, but work on doing this sincerely, rather than aggressively or annoyingly.
6. The use of ‘I’ and ‘We’
In your communications to clients, think carefully about your use of ‘I’ and ‘We’ and use it to show sincerity in an effort to solve their problem, not to tell them how great you are. Focus on the client and the benefits to them, rather than the features.
And these are a few ways in which you can keep the focus on sales with a sense of integrity. I used to be one of those people who held some of the views I wrote about in the beginning of this article, but I knew that in order for my business endeavors to succeed, I needed to change this way of thinking. I decided the best way to do this was to deconstruct my views, and figure out what was really behind them. What I found, and what I’m sure many of you will find is that it wasn’t the sale that bothered me, it was the behavior of the salesperson, and an impression that they were being dishonest or immoral in some way. I realized that all I had to do was to make sure that my business is conducted in an upstanding way, and that the behaviors and actions that I disapprove are not part of my business practice. Apply the same way of operating, and you’ll be amazing at sales, whilst still retaining your integrity!
Written by Noleen Mariappen
© 2015, Noleen Mariappen
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