selling better: learning to love selling

Published in Norfolk Director Magazine, Spring/Summer 2019
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Learning to love selling
Step 1: Mindset

Brought to you in association with Salescadence

Why does ‘selling’ have such a bad reputation and why are we so afraid of it?

There is no doubt that if you google sales person, you’ll get plenty of words that you wouldn’t want to associate with your business or brand. It’s very easy to describe the qualities of a bad sales person. They don’t listen and aren’t interested in anything but what they’re selling. They don’t ask the right questions and don’t understand what you want.

However, google Richard Branson, Beyoncé, or Jeff Bezos and you’ll get a totally different set of adjectives; ones you’d gladly aspire to be called by others. They all do different things, yet, the common link between the three, apart from being entrepreneurs, is they’re all sales people and they’ve all made a lot of money running successful businesses. One sells flights, one sells downloads / concert tickets and one sells everything!

So why do some shy away from an association with the oldest skill known to man?

The pivotal issue is learning to love selling, rather than fear it, as without it you won’t succeed. Your success is dependent on your ability to persuade and without a sale you have no business.

Therefore, we must change our mindset / attitude towards selling if we truly want to be good at it.

Maybe the first thing that needs to be done is to replace the word ‘sales’ with ‘persuasion’. Defined as ‘the action or process of persuading someone, or of being persuaded to do or believe something’, we can now cast our minds further afield to think about the business, political and religious leaders who are adept at managing to change our attitude or behaviour. Do we regard them as sales people?

Persuasion isn’t just something you will do in order to turn more prospects into customers. There are several other areas where persuasion is important. Motivating your workforce, negotiating purchases and gaining funding are just three. In fact, probably if you think about it, most of what you do as a business owner involves persuasion / selling.

So, now you are a persuader, rather than seller, what other steps can you take to change your attitude.

1. Accept the fact that, “production minus sales equals scrap”

According to best-selling author and business guru, Geoff Burch (www.geoffburch.com), nothing happens until somebody sells something. So, embrace the importance of sales for your business and place your attention on where your sales come from; you’d soon focus on it if you had no clients!

2. Shift your thinking from “selling people” to “helping people”

People only buy two things, a solution to a problem or an improvement to what they already have, so celebrate the fact that your product must help people in some way and get passionate about helping more.

3. If you think it’s all about the features and functions of your product, you’ve missed the point

People buy for their reasons not yours and quite frankly, very few really care about how your gizmo works, they just want the benefit that comes as a result. Swap the words “We do this,” and “we do that” with “When you own this” and “You’ll benefit this way”.

4. Learn to be more sociable

Look at selling as an opportunity to meet new people and learn new things. You may not be the most outgoing and confident person in the world, but if you have the ability to establish a connection and an understanding of the customer, as well as a genuine interest in their lives, you could not only end up getting the sale, but establishing an ongoing relationship that lasts for years.

5. Accept rejection…

It’s vitally important that you train your mindset to accept that a ‘no’ hardly ever has anything to do with you personally, so don’t get emotional when you lose a sale. Pick yourself up, brush yourself down and move on. Consider every sales rejection as a ‘lesson’ you can learn from; either they have a problem and you weren’t able to demonstrate how your solution addresses it, or they don’t have one and you’ve failed to establish that at the start. Look at it this way and we could say that ‘sales rejection’ is something a sales person creates for themselves.

6. …and that you won’t be liked by everyone

Acknowledge that you won’t be liked by everyone, especially total strangers; someone you meet once and then probably will never meet again. It’s amazing how many people get upset and dwell on another’s disapproval. Be objective about the reasons why. They might be having a bad day at work or a bad week at home, or they might just be distracted by a growing to-do list. These are factors beyond your control and likely beyond your knowledge, and while they may influence how people respond to you, they’re not about you.

7. Learn to love the challenge

Some of the best sales people are those that embrace the challenge. They are motivated by finding ways to improve what they do. Whether that is getting better at prospecting, engaging people and eliminating obstacles, or handling complex decisions and beating the competition.

Don’t just measure yourself against your colleagues and peers but set yourself personal targets and then when you reach your goals, treat yourself. Approach everyday as a puzzle that needs solving and don’t just look at the money. Learn and experiment with new approaches and analyse the results, both in terms of working relationships and the quality of the business you’ve won.

8. Train the brain

We each have an in-built negativity bias, it’s the ‘fight or flight’ part of our brain that’s kept us safe for millions of years. Yet it acts as our default position when times get tough and can compound the problem we face even further. For instance, Brexit could well throw up some challenges for your business, so are you going to just accept it and wait for things to happen, or start thinking more constructively about how you can tangibly impact the situation, so your business is ready to cope with what comes? When difficult issues occur ask yourself, “what can we learn from this so we a better able to handle it or avoid it next time?”

9. Train your people

Whether you have a dedicated sales team or act independently, if you aren’t undergoing regular training, you’re falling behind everyone else who is. Having spent over fifteen years in corporate B2B sales roles, Matt Sykes, who heads up Norfolk-based Salescadence, understands the frustrations and challenges of being a Sales Director. He helps sales professionals become the most known, liked and trusted people in their industry. On his website, www.salescadence.co.uk, there’s several podcasts and free downloadable e-books that will help. Also, for a small investment you can get some very good online training courses.

Too many organisations limit their potential because they leave the most important part of their business model – sales – to chance.

Take the first step to being better at selling by changing your attitude. Intrinsically, people buy from people and you or your sales team may be the only thing that gets your customers buying from you rather than your competitors.

Learn to love the process as if you don’t, it will only be luck that brings your business success!

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