Six questions about sales

In the past month I’ve been working with professionals, for whom sales is not their main or sole job, but have found themselves needing to sell. I support them to become confident and find a way to sell that works for them.

During these sessions some questions arise on a regular basis so I thought I’d share some ideas on how to address them.

There are six and they all start with “How do I….?

1) How do I sell what I do without appearing ‘salesy’? Be aware of what ‘salesy’ behaviour sounds, looks and feels like. It includes:talking excessively about yourself, ‘trying’ hard to get people to commit with tactics such as convincing them they need you.

What might you replace it with? Talk about the effects/impact of what you do, rather than what you do. Sell the sizzle.

See selling as a journey: it takes place over time as opposed to just at a specific moment. See selling as partnership: you’re feeling your way, with your customer what would be best for them with only their interests at heart.

See selling as a search for a yes or a no: it may be that you’re right for the person you’re speaking with, it may be that you’re not. Keep an open mind to both outcomes.

See selling as requiring resilience and optimism in equal measure. Look up the Stockdale paradox– this is a great mindset for sales. See selling as an experience that you are trying to create: what you’re saying is, ‘this is the experience of working with me’.

2.Differentiate myself in a crowded market? I come at this from the point of view that we’re all unique. So we already have whatever we need to differentiate ourselves. The challenge is in how we give words to that difference and then go about expressing it. Look up Dan Roam, who who has a good structure for this. There’s also Simon Sinek who I like. I have used Dan Roam’s thinking in the past: There are three useful pieces of thinking to do with regards to your positioning.

Step 1: What’s my idea? What matters and why?

Step 2: Who am I when I picture my idea? Why does it matter to me? What am I offering to make a difference?

Step 3: Who is my audience and how do they feel about this?

Your answers to these questions support you to become the person, the walking embodiment of your idea. Then do things the crowd won’t do. Here are three things: Speaking: simply meeting and talking with your audience. Writing: your thoughts, interviewing others. Sharing: yours and others content to your audience.

The more of these three things that you do, the further you will leave your competitors behind. Because at some point, they’ll lose interest or get tired. It’s a marathon not a sprint.

3.How do I get comfortable talking about money? Everyone feels uncomfortable about money. It’s a warning sign that you need to perform well, to make sure that what you receive for your coaching is a fair fee. Then there are some things that you can do to ease the situation.

Think value rather than cost. What difference does your client want to make? And how will your expertise help them?

Decide what you’re going to charge and why: decide if you’re going to scale it according to commitment or size of client. Just what are your parameters? Knowing this and why you’ve set them will give you confidence when it comes to talking about your fees.

Appreciate your own value: review your testimonials regularly. Create a list of affirmations starting with: “My fee is great value for money because…..” complete these and review daily.

Have the price discussion later on in the conversation, after some rapport and discussion of client’s situation. But be wary when the client raises it early. “Shall we talk about price?” “We should probably discuss price.” Are comfortable ways for you to introduce the subject.

4.How do I close an agreement to work together? When it feels like there’s nothing more to discuss, the price, needs and logistics areas have been covered, you can test the water. Some useful phrases are: “Shall we go ahead?” “Would you like to proceed?” “Do you have any other questions or should we get started?” “Shall we arrange the first dates?”

Then shut up and wait for the response. Hold the silence. Hearing a yes, you can then describe what happens next and send the necessary paperwork.

5.How should I handle objections? It depends on the objection. Let’s say an objection comes in, for example, “I can’t afford it.”

Empathise: I appreciate that price is always a factor.

Question: May I ask how far apart we are?

This might give you some wiggle room.

Alternatively, price is often a disguise for something else. So you might expand your empathy statement:

“I can’t afford it.”

Empathise: I appreciate that price is always a factor.

Question: What else is concerning you about signing up?

This allows you to address any other concerns, often the real one. If that can be addressed often the price becomes a non issue.

If an objection comes early in the conversation it’s often because the real purpose and value of the coaching hasn’t been discovered. In which case a phrase to put the conversation back on track would be:

“Putting price to one side for the moment, let’s continue with what you’d like to change.”

6.How do I deal with potential clients that ‘disappear’? You’ve had the conversations, they’ve promised you a decision by a date and they don’t get back to you. Remember that what’s going on for them may not be visible to you. Although this is your livelihood the last thing you want to do is to be getting frustrated with people who don’t reply. In the main, be optimistic that people will reply but realistic that they may not. The best way to cover this is when you sign off the conversation prior to them going away to mull it over.

The conversation might go something like this: Are you ready to go? No I just need to give it a bit more thought. “Would you mind if I checked in with you?” No problem. When would you suggest I do that? They give you a date.

You say fine. You leave it there.

The antidote to not pressurising a potential client is to have other clients that you are nurturing. In sales, it’s called a pipeline. Keep your pipeline full of potential clients and you can let your client make their own mind up in their own time. Someone that walks towards you will be easier to work with and will get more from the experience than someone who is dragged there.

Thanks for reading.

What do you think? Do you have more questions? Why not send them my way!

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