Too many people want to focus on the short term where sales are concerned. It’s all about the win. That’s an old-fashioned sales mentality though. Today, rather than being good practice, it comes across as desperation. If you are unwilling to invest time to converse or share information you will fail in today’s Information Age.
Our Information Age (which has also been dubbed the Knowledge Economy) is about sharing knowledge and that translates as caring. Too much emphasis on winning and losing translates as a selfish outlook. The amount of value you add determines the size of the platform you build. Multiple conversations create multiple streams of opportunities.
I think that the biggest misconception in modern day sales is seeing everything as a win/lose (just my opinion – please leave a comment if you are work in sales and disagree vehemently). The secret to selling is not sealing the deal, it’s being patient towards people as they learn about your product or service and why they need it. You need to give them value first and a lot of it. The more value you add, the more credible you are. And, that’s why content marketing is a great strategy. It’s because, when you take time to educate people you realise that they still need someone to help them go further. Now, there will always be someone who wants to work on the cheap. They are the people who will absorb knowledge and never spend or invest a cent. They will get results but it will take them far longer than the person who is willing to invest in themselves.
If you approach selling as serving, the conversation shifts gears.
Gear 1. How can I help?
Should be your primary focus. Ask them the what their problem is. What would make the biggest difference? It may be only a small challenge that your insight can solve. Be confident asking how you can help and serve them with a golden nugget of truth.
Gear 2. What are you looking for?
Think about your network. You know that you are able to add some value but the person you are helping might be looking for something else more immediate. The larger your network the more you are able to demonstrate your value. Good people deliver, but great people deliver and are well ‘networked’ enough to have other people promote them on their behalf. In essence, other people promote your brand for you and you do the same for them, resulting in problems getting solved more quickly.
Gear 3. Show them something they don’t know
What can you take five minutes to illustrate? For me, it’s the four things that create a winning brand. Belief, Belong, Best and Beyond. It highlights a process and educates the listener. What simple equation can you create that will resonate? Knowledge creates confidence and further conversation.
Gear 4. Freely give
Have a ‘seed sowing’ perspective. With every prospect I come across I sow into their lives by giving them as much value as I can in that moment. If my call is 10 minutes or 30 minutes I ensure I maximize the moment by packing in a lot of value. Giving creates trust. People might take my ideas and run (without spending anything on my services) but they’ll never forget where the ideas came from.
Gear 5. Take a risk
You have to be certain and know that you are paying it forward. Occasionally, you need to give something away now for a future return. Sow an entry level product. You won’t make money straightaway but that you’ll gain a voice in places where you don’t currently have one. A competition is a great way to do this for example. Or maybe you know that just the person you are talking to really needs a break. It may be that cost is an issue and they can’t really afford to pay full price for your service and they really need it. Why not ask them what they can reasonably afford? Then take them on as a customer. Some of the risks I’ve taken have failed but the ones that have come off more than make up for it.
One reason to end the conversation and be brave about it. If the business relationship will compromise your values it’s time to walk away. I remember I had an opportunity to collaborate with a really great brand guy. It was a gaming opportunity and we were both excited about it. As soon as the other company showed us images of scantily clad Asian women, my decision was made and my friend knew I was out. I could not promote something of this nature. I respect women. Full stop. I kept it polite and my brand friend closed the conversation.
Then he closed his laptop. I remember him looking at me and said ‘You’re out aren’t you?’ I answered. ‘Yes.’ I was surprised when he admitted that my stand over this issue was making him rethink his whole involvement too. I never asked him if he took it up. What did happen was that he took another job shortly afterwards.
Listen, I had worked on promoting brands that ended people’s lives in the past (cigarettes and alcohol). And if I had been compliant in promoting hurt in the past then I had made a decision to never do it again. I was more interested in celebrating life.
Where this opportunity was concerned I didn’t care about the lost ‘business’ because
I was confident in my conviction. The great thing was that, in the process I got someone to have a deeper conversation with themselves! That’s my job. To get people asking the right questions of themselves as well as of others… and coming up with outstanding brands as a result!