Selling is not only a natural act in all people, it is also a requirement to successfully navigate existence. The world of sales is not reserved for professionals, it is a reality in which all those who want to achieve some benefit in their lives have to navigate.
These are 10 rules that must be taken into account to sell anything … and to anyone:
1. Don’t look at your belly button. Selling is about the other, not yourself.
Nobody likes to share a conversation with someone who monopolizes the talk. It just doesn’t work. No healthy and productive relationship can be built on endless monologues. And this happens, precisely, in many business years.
A cardinal rule of sales is to understand that everything is always about the buyer, not the bidder. Any presentation, speech, or offer should focus on the receiver, not the sender. The question every salesperson should ask is: what is the relevance of this to the prospect? And depending on the response, the offer has to be customized.
The self-aware salesperson has the same dynamics as an inanimate display case. At best it is a good exhibitor but does not provide any added value.
2. Investigate and find out everything you need before contact.
If you expect the buyer to give you time to consider your offer, you should first make your own time to get to know him and learn about him. In this age of absolute interconnectivity, there are no excuses that prevent knowing what is necessary about the prospect to be addressed.
Pre-inquiries need not be time-consuming. Almost always 5 or 10 minutes is enough. This is enough to know who the prospect is and what interests them.
There are eight examples of useful and easily accessible sources of information:
- Twitter (personal or corporate profiles)
- Company press releases
- Competitor press reports
- Company financial reports (usually publicly accessible)
3. Always start with an introduction.
Properly setting a conversation is essential. The salesperson who goes into the matter directly is not only impertinent, he also demonstrates ignorance and rudeness. Business interactions are personal relationships first and always, and no one likes to be approached as a mere statistic.
The Strategy refers to this as circular reference or flank access. And the basic civility protocol works for the case. Simple questions: how are you? or what brings you here today? are many times enough. In other cases, a more qualified question will take better advantage: “So you are looking for a dress for a cocktail, can I ask you what the occasion is about?”
If it is a corporate sale, what is indicated in point 2 should allow knowing geographical details, restaurants in the area, concert halls, stadiums, etc. This allows the conversation to be set in a very good way: how was the last winter in this city? What is your favorite meal in the restaurant? What show did you attend lately in the concert hall?
Get to know your prospect before you jump in with the offer, know clearly why they should care and why you are better than your competitors. After all, we are human beings. Talk to the potential customer in that condition before doing it as a salesperson.
4. Define your target buyer.
It may seem like a paradox, but the secret to selling “anything to anyone” is not trying to sell “anything to anyone.”
Whether you work in retail, car sales, or B2B business, you will be more successful if you are familiar with the characteristics of your target buyers and thoroughly rate each prospect based on that matrix. This is called the ideal buyer profile, and it is almost the same as owning a secret weapon.
Finding the specific type of “anyone” that is right for the product or service avoids wasting time on potential customers who are not a good fit. There is more time and energy to invest in buyers with a good chance of becoming customers.
5. Contribute first, sell later.
If you define your target buyer correctly, you will spend most of your day talking to business leaders who have problems that your product or service can solve. But just because you know this doesn’t mean they do.
Do not launch the speech from the beginning. You run the risk of angering or scaring the potential customer. Instead, offer your help in the way that you think is most valuable. And if you’re not sure how to do it, ask.
Perhaps you can submit a breakdown of the latest features of the car the buyer wants, or submit some content that meets their needs. Perhaps you can use your experience to talk about industry trends that the prospect will eventually be unaware of.
Position yourself as an adviser who wants to help rather than a professional thirsty to sell. With this approach, you will find a more receptive audience when you finally connect your problem with the offer.
As social selling expert Jill Rowley puts it, “Think of the old boxing jargon: jab, jab, jab, forehand and associate it with sales like give, give, give, ask.”
6. Ask questions and listen.
No matter how hard you have done your research on your prospect, there will always be doubts. And you will not be able to solve the buyer’s problems if you do not fully understand them. This is why it is essential to ask thoughtful questions in conversations, many of them.
“How did this happen?”
“What are the most important characteristics for you?”
“It has always been like this?”
“How should this product make you feel?”
“How is the problem affecting your organization’s staff / clients?”
“What are you currently doing to fix the problem?”
“In a perfect world, what would you like to see happen to this?”
“Can you give me an example?”
Be curious. It’s good to have a list of questions ready as a starting point, but you don’t have to stick with them if the conversation takes an unexpected turn. People like to talk about themselves and their situations, so genuine interest and curiosity on their part will help them be more attentive to what is being said to them.
After asking a question, be quiet and just listen. Hear what the buyer is saying and don’t wait your turn to speak. Then, once he’s done thinking, get your message across, ask him to check if he understood correctly, and ask any questions that provide further clarification.
Congratulations, you have become an active listener!
Listening carefully not only helps control the problem but also makes the potential customer feel good. And if the attunement comes through, they’ll be more likely to return the favor when you have something to say.
7. Be aware of certain psychological peculiarities to sell.
The brain is programmed to respond to certain situations in specific ways. Being aware of these psychological tricks can help you.
- Anchor effect: information received first acts as an anchor on which subsequent data is evaluated.
- Decoy factor: A third option can sometimes help people choose between two possibilities.
- Rhyming effect as reason: statements that rhyme seems truer than those that do not rhyme.
- Loss aversion: you react more strongly to the possibility of losing something you currently have than to the possibility of gaining something you do not have.
- Endpoint rule and “spike” effect: People remember the ending and high point of the presentation more vividly than any other section.
- The curse of knowledge: occurs when someone who knows a lot about a certain topic is unable to relate to someone who is not so familiar.
- Confirmation bias: You are more likely to accept information that aligns with your own beliefs than contradictory evidence, no matter how compelling.
8. Get closer to the client by putting yourself at their level.
It’s great when a salesperson brings personality to the sales process. But keep in mind that you also need to pay attention to your potential customer’s personality and tailor your approach accordingly. The prospect’s personal attributes determine how they like to be approached and sold.
Here is a brief breakdown of the four main personality types and their preferences:
- Assertive: interested in the results and the final summary.
- Friendly: Interested in creative ideas and overviews.
- Expressive: Interested in people and how ideas affect others.
- Analytical: interested in facts, figures, and data.
Once you know which category your prospect fits into, play with his preferences, personalize the message and presentation to establish what is most important to him.
9. Reach the emotional peak.
There is no purely rational decision. Like it or not, emotions influence the way information is processed and decisions are made. Sellers who appeal solely to the logic of their buyers do themselves a disservice.
Every message, presentation, and meeting intended to sell must be geared towards the potential customer’s emotions as well as their rational mind. According to sales expert Geoffrey James, the following emotions affect decision making:
Some of these are feelings that buyers do not want to be associated with. So be sure to be very skilled when making emotional appeals. Don’t try to express all of these feelings, choose one or two that resonate and mix them subtly.
10. Remember, this is about selling to people.
When countless emails are sent every day, it’s easy to forget that potential customers are people. But they are, and they want to be treated as such.
The salesperson must be empathetic, not nice. Use empathy: would you like to receive an email like this? Would you appreciate this voicemail? If not, it is very likely that for the buyer it is not either.
It is important to be professional when selling, but it is also essential to be pleasant. Buyers have lives outside of work. Establish a genuine relationship with your prospects, letting the conversation get personal now and then. It does not have, and should not, be all business all the time.