If you’re a sales professional, I have news for you: there’s a good chance you’re a failure at your job. 55% of people who make their living in sales don’t have the skills to succeed. And there’s one key skill that you have to learn: That’s how to stop selling, and make a sale.
Turn the tables and imagine this scenario: You’re in a mall, when the sales person walks up. “Can I help you with anything?” the sales person says.
What do you say? What do most of us always say? “No thanks. I’m just looking.” Just looking are two of the worst words in a salesperson’s day. 99.9% of people say they’re just looking even though they could use assistance. Why? They don’t want to be sold. So they politely put up a wall — and the salesperson is on the other side.
Most companies sell too much. Everything is about a sale. So customers are desensitized — they’re numb to your offer. They’re not ready to hand you their credit card and walk away with their product or service. And if you ignore that in the effort to put a sale, you’ll lose it. Instead, here’s how to get over that customer wall and actually make a sale:
1. Ignore the sale.
It may sound simple enough, but the numbers tell a different story:Just 13% of customers believe a salesperson can understand their needs. Key among those needs is to not have a salesperson focus so much on the goal of a sale that they ignore what the customer wants.
2. Focus on a great customer experience.
Here’s what the customer really wants: a great experience. A great experience, in which they feel like they’re being heard, that makes them not only interested in a product or service, but makes them believe in it. That means taking the effort to close the deal out of the equation until the end.
3. Plant the seeds.
There is a big difference between planting seeds and selling. A skillful sales person plants a series of seeds. Consider the example of a trainer at a gym. Often, fitness facilities offer a free session or assessment to attract new members. Then the trainer asks what the prospective member’s goals are — and immediately starts pushing themselves and the gym’s services as the best way to achieve those goals. What happens next? Usually, a maybe. Instead, it’s far more effective to find out those goals, and then ask: “If there were a program to help get you there, is that something you would be excited to have?”
The difference is that you’re not talking about what you or your company can do for the customer, but rather about finding their solution and getting the person excited about having it. It doesn’t mention the trainer. It doesn’t even mention the gym. The trainer’s listening to the potential new member, having a conversation, asking how they would feel, and giving them time to consider the answer.
4. Circle back to the sale only at the end.
By the trainer’s not talking about why he or she would be the best trainer for that person, they take themselves and their need to sell out of the experience, and instead focus on the person. The person feels like they’ve been heard. They’re not getting the hard sell. Of course at the end, seeds planted, the trainer should circle back and make it about the gym and the trainer — and that’s where the sale should and can happen.
A sale is only part of selling. It’s nothing more than a transaction: I take out my credit card, hand it to you, and then you run the payment and hand me the receipt. But it won’t happen unless you focus on the customer first — and that means a great experience in which they feel valued, listened to and respected. A customer is far more willing to purchase a product or service if they have had a great experience. As a salesperson, that’s what you need to spend your time on.
Kory Angelin is an award-winning fitness professional and two-time published author. Understanding that a great experience is what drives success in business, he has been recognized for such success in both television and print publications, and is a sought after motivational speaker. His new book is “#sellout: How a Great Experience Can Help You #sellout of Your Product“.