One of the most common questions I’m asked by business owners and salespeople from around the world is: “Does your trust-based sales approach work in my country?”
Even though we’ve sold over 37,000 CDs and DVDs in over 38 countries, that question still comes up quite a bit.
To answer it, I thought I’d share with you a portion of an interview I did for book chapter in the award-winning “Secrets of Top Sales Professionals Exposed!” that was produced exclusively here in Australia.
I was recently selected as one of the top sales leaders here, the first American to receive that honor!
Here’s a portion of the interview:
What is the most important thing you have learned about succeeding in sales?
Don’t focus on making the sale. How can you be in sales if you are not focusing on it? Well, to be truly successful you have to make this shift in mindset. Why? Because when you let go of your own agenda (of trying to make money from someone else), you can truly be present with them. If you can do this, then you can talk with them without your mind racing ahead in an effort to move them in a direction they may not want to go. When you are present with them, they trust and believe you more. It’s not about your ability to make the sale, it’s about your ability to create authentic trust; and authentic trust equals more sales.
What were some of the challenges you had to overcome on the journey to achieving your career goals?
I had to give myself permission to let go of trying to ‘close’ people when selling and open my mind up by focusing 100 per cent on solving their problems. When I first started, I followed the ‘old school’ sales gurus who told me to only focus on closing the sale. I later realized that even though I was making sales this way, I was losing much more than I was winning because prospects were turned off by my approach. So I shifted my way of thinking from trying to close to trying to solve problems. When I did this the funniest thing happened, people started buying more.
Your sales philosophy seems vastly different from other sales thought leaders. Can you explain it to us?
If you flick through the pages of business magazines and sales training material, you will find a constant flow of messages like, ‘Focus on closing the sale’; ‘Overcome objections’; ‘Be relentless’; ‘Accept rejection as a normal part of selling’; ‘Use persuasion to get useful information about your prospects’; and ‘Chase the sale’. In short, get the sale at the expense of the human relationship.
For the customer, this approach is transparent and all too familiar. Crossing social boundaries and adding pressure to the sales process makes it a gut-wrenching and painful process. There is a much better way to succeed in selling – move away from the hidden agenda of focusing on making the sale.
When you do this, a new world opens up for you. In other words, when salespeople stop selling and start building authentic relationships based on trust, authenticity and integrity, the possibilities are endless.
It’s a whole new mindset in selling. Traditional sales techniques contradict everything we know about what it takes to build relationships. But isn’t selling just another human relationship – a business relationship? No one likes to be pushed and no one wants to talk to someone who is only out there to get something. By focusing not on the sale, but on building trust, the salesperson can eliminate angst, negativity and frustration, and capture the essence of succeeding in business.
What do you mean when you say, ‘Treat the people you call with honour and respect, and you’ll both win?
Selling is all about trust. People can sense when you are more concerned about commission than their best interests. When you treat people as people, not prospects, and reveal your trustworthiness, they will start to trust you. They will see you as a problem solver focused solely on their needs. From there you have the basis of a long-term relationship – the true competitive advantage. This is not a technique, it’s a way of communicating with people because you can’t fake being trustworthy.
Why is the beginning of a sales call far more important than the close?
The beginning of a sales call is the most important part of the process because it is the moment when you are judged by the prospect as being a salesperson or a trusted advisor. We are taught so many techniques for closing a sale, but think about how many sales are lost at ‘hello’. The ability to start a conversation with a total stranger from scratch, without a sales pitch, is vitally important and something that is learnt from the Unlock The Game approach.
You disagree with traditional sales training that teaches salespeople to use scripts when prospecting and selling. How do you deliver a sales message without using a script?
You let go of the linear step-by-step sales process, where your job is to move people down a pre-determined path. Nobody likes to feel like they are being ‘sold’ to and a pre-determined linear process only makes a prospect feel as if they have to follow your steps to work with you. Having a linear script can actually prevent you from truly listening, because you’re always thinking about the next step and how to get people to follow your path toward the sale. Plus, scripts can also make you sound robotic – no matter how good you are. The more natural you can be in a conversation with a prospect, without worrying about what’s going to happen next, the faster your prospect will feel that you are truly listening.
Why do you think many business owners are reluctant and fearful of selling over the phone?
People experience fear over the phone because they associate selling with rejection. But rejection doesn’t just happen. It’s triggered by certain behaviors. When you make enough calls in a way that triggers rejection, pretty soon you end up associating calling with a painful experience that creates a fear of the phone. The old sales gurus tell us that rejection is a part of life, and we have to just tough it out, but that macho view has seen its day. When you change your behavior so you don’t trigger rejection, you’ll never fear the phone again.
Do you think that fear of rejection is simply a natural reaction?
It’s a very natural reaction, but it doesn’t have to be that way. What most of us don’t realize is we are actually triggering the rejection in the first place. What’s really unnatural is that we’re taught to put our sales persona on top of who we really are, but when we get rejected we take it personally. The truth is you’re not the problem, your approach is. And if you can change your approach to a natural one, you’ll never experience rejection again.
How can salespeople change from being perceived as the ‘dreaded salesperson’ to the ‘trusted advisor’?
This is an important question because so many sales programs today tell you to become a trusted advisor, but then don’t give you a framework to actually become one. There is one core difference between a trusted advisor and a typical salesperson – agenda. Most people view salespeople as having only one agenda: to make the sale. However, the trusted advisor only has one true agenda: to help solve their prospect’s problem. To become a trusted advisor, you’ll need to completely let go of trying to make the sale and learn how to get to the truth of whether a win-win situation can be achieved.
To your success,
Great Q&A, looking forward to finding out more about your sales approach. I like your ideas, very promising!