Sooner or later, we all backslide into old ways of thinking about selling that lead us down the wrong path with potential clients.
A few weeks ago, I had a phone conversation with Julie, who has been struggling with the old-style selling methods that her manager insists are the only way to sell their company’s technology solution.
Regardless of what product or service you’re selling, you should be able to relate to her dilemma.
Outdated sales skills fail to address the core issue of how we think about selling and unless we get to that core and change it once and for all, we’ll go on struggling with the same counterproductive sales behaviors.
And we’ll continue believing that we’re always just one new sales technique away from the breakthrough we’re looking for.
Maybe it’s time to take a different approach. Maybe we need to analyze our thinking and identify why we’re not making more sales.
Take a look at the table below and think about your current selling mindset.
How would your selling behaviors change if you changed your sales thinking?
|Old Sales Mindset||New Sales Mindset|
|Always start out with a strong sales pitch.||Stop the sales pitch. Start a conversation.|
|Your goal is always to close the sale.||Your goal is always to discover whether you and your prospect are a good fit.|
|When you lose a sale, it’s usually at the end of the sales process.||When you lose a sale, it’s usually at the beginning of the sales process.|
|Rejection is a normal part of selling, so get used to it.||Hidden sales pressure causes rejection. Eliminate sales pressure, and you’ll never experience rejection.|
|Keep chasing prospects until you get a yes or no.||Never chase prospects. Instead, get to the truth of whether there’s a fit or not.|
|When prospects offer objections, challenge and/or counter them.||When prospects offer objections, validate them and reopen the conversation.|
|If prospects challenge the value of your product or service, defend yourself and explain its value.||Never defend yourself or what you have to offer. This only creates more sales pressure.|
Let’s take a closer look at these concepts so you can begin to open up your current sales thinking and become more effective in your selling efforts.
When you call someone, never start out with a mini-presentation about yourself, your company, and what you have to offer.
Instead, start with a conversational phrase that focuses on a specific problem that your product or service solves. For example, you might say, “I’m just calling to see if you are open to some different ideas related to preventing downtime across your computer network?”
Notice that you are not pitching your solution with this opening phrase. Instead, you’re addressing a problem that, based on your experience in your field, you believe they might be having. (If you don’t know what problems your product or service solves, do a little research by asking your current customers why they purchased your solution.)
If you let go of trying to close the sale or get the appointment, you’ll discover that you don’t have to take responsibility for moving the sales process forward.
By simply focusing your conversation on problems that you can help prospects solve, and by not jumping the gun by trying to move the sales process forward, you’ll discover that prospects will give you the direction you need.
If you think you’re losing sales due to mistakes you make at the end of the process, review how you began the relationship. Did you start with a pitch?
Did you use traditional sales language (“We have a solution that you really need” or “Others in your industry have bought our solution, you should consider it as well”)?
Traditional sales language leads prospects to label you with the negative stereotype of “salesperson.” This makes it almost impossible for them to relate to you with trust or to have an honest, open conversation about problems they’re trying to solve and how you might be able to help them.
Prospects don’t trigger rejection. You do — when something you say, and it could be very subtle, triggers a defensive reaction from your prospect.
Yes, something you say.
You can eliminate rejection forever simply by giving up the hidden agenda of hoping to make a sale. Instead, be sure that everything you say and do stems from the basic mindset that you’re there to help prospects identify and solve their issues.
Chasing prospects has always been considered normal and necessary, but it’s rooted in the macho selling image that “If you don’t keep chasing, you’re giving up, which means you’re a failure.” This is dead wrong.
Instead, ask your prospects if they’d be open to connecting again at a certain time and date so you can both avoid the phone tag game.
Most traditional sales programs spend a lot of time focusing on “overcoming” objections, but these tactics only create more sales pressure.
They also keep you from exploring or learning the truth behind what your prospects are saying.
You know that “We don’t have the budget,” “Send me information,” or “Call me back in a few months,” are polite evasions designed to get you off the phone. Stop trying to counter objections. Instead, shift to uncovering the truth by replying, “That’s not a problem.” No matter what the objection, use gentle, dignified language that invites prospects to tell you the truth about their situation without feeling you’ll use it to press for a sale.
When prospects say, “Why should I choose you over your competition?” your instinctive reaction is to defend your product or service because you believe that you are the best choice, and you want to convince them of that. But what goes through their minds at that point?
Something like, “This ‘salesperson’ is trying to sell me, and I hate feeling as if I’m being sold.”
Stop defending yourself. In fact, come right out and tell them that you aren’t going to try to convince them of anything because that only creates sales pressure. Instead, ask them again about key problems they’re trying to solve.
Then explore how your product or service might solve those problems. Give up trying to persuade. Let prospects feel they can choose you without feeling sold.
The sooner you can let go of the traditional sales beliefs that we’ve all been exposed to, the more quickly you’ll feel good about selling again, and start seeing better results.
Ari Galper is the World’s #1 Authority On Trust-Based Selling and the creator of Unlock The Game®, a new sales mindset that overturns the notion of selling as we know it today. His personal insights on how to build trust between buyers and sellers continues to break new ground. Thousands of Business Owners, Entrepreneurs, Coaches and Sales Consultants worldwide have been transformed by his trust-based sales approach.