When it comes to sales, Zig Ziglar got it right: “Stop selling. Start helping.” Truly, there is no better way to add value to potential customers and thereby encourage them to buy than by supporting and helping people.
If people feel that they’re being sold to, they won’t buy.
But if a customer feels valued and appreciated during the sale conversation, they will be more open to buying what you’re offering – because they feel that you’ve truly put their best interests first.
So, what is selling?
Selling is a seriously misunderstood concept.
Many people think of it as an art, belittled by those who believe that it cannot be learned – but the reality is far different.
Selling is actually more science than art, and anyone can learn how to do it successfully. In its most simple form, selling involves an exchange of goods or services in return for money – an exchange of value between two parties.
The real trick to successful selling lies in understanding the customer’s needs and delivering on them with amazing products, great customer service and passion for what you are doing!
The different types of salespeople can be broken down into four kinds of sellers.
The Order Taker
The Order Taker sits back and waits for the sale to come to them.
For example, a retail shopkeeper that sits behind the counter and waits for you to come to them with your purchase.
The Product Pusher
Tries to sell many different products – regardless of whether they’ll benefit the customer.
They don’t listen to what the customer actually wants; they just want to make their sales targets.
The Over Seller
Willing to say anything in order to get the sale – even if it’s not true.
The only thing that matters is the sale.
It doesn’t matter if the sale is not in the best interests of the customer.
Your sales process should work in a way that you ‘Under Promise and Over Deliver.
Think about the stereotype for a used car salesperson.
What immediately comes to mind when you think of one?
Remember, our aim is to help our customers and improve their lives with our products or services, not just to sell to them.
If people feel as if they’re being sold to, they’ll start to think about you like this.
The biggest risk is that you’ll lose your customers’ trust and they’ll walk away, never to return.
You really don’t want to be seen as an Over Seller in your customers’ eyes!
The Problem Solver
Identifies problems the customer is experiencing and then offers solutions in the form of products or services.
Consider the wants vs. the needs of the customer, the benefits vs. the features of the product or service, and think about the ‘What’s In It For Me?’ (WIIFM) for the customer.
You must also be ready to handle all objections, for example, no time, no money, too busy, or I won’t use it, etc.
Wants vs. needs is important, as often what the customer wants and what they need are quite different.
It’s important to be able to distinguish between these and articulate to the customer what they really need.
For example, a person may want a Ferrari but they have three children they need to regularly transport – what they need is not what they want.
Likewise, a customer might want their rusty roof painted but what they really need is a new roof.
Benefits vs features is another important distinction.
We must highlight the benefits of a product or service to the customer – defining the value, they’ll get from the purchase instead of trying to justify what is involved.
Remember, the perceived value must be greater than the price.
If we go back to the rusty roof example, a paint job (which, of course, is a band-aid) will be much cheaper than a new roof.
So, we must sell the value of the new roof; for example, a new roof will ensure the customer’s roof stops leaking, reducing stress, damage to contents and time spent cleaning up water.
The problem will be solved long term while reducing their energy costs and potentially increasing the value of their house.
These are benefits. The features of the new roof, such as what it’s made of and the look of flashings, etc., are not relevant to the customer.
Here are the top 10 must do’s when selling.
- Be clear on your target market. You don’t want to waste time selling to customers who are not a good fit.
- Articulate your value in one sentence. The value is what matters most to your customers.
- Commit to what you promise. Never underestimate the value of follow through – to speed up the sale and build credibility.
- Use a sales system – and stick to it! That system should be clearly broken down into steps for you and your team to follow to increase efficiency and reduce rework.
- Remember to ‘Ask not tell’. Not every customer’s situation is the same, don’t assume you know what the client needs… ask lots of question to truly understand and build a connection.
- Focus on benefits not features (WIIFM). Remember to articulate what’s in it for the customer.
- Establish the value before quoting the price. The value to the customer must exceed the price for them buy.
- Offer options. This is known as the ‘choice of yeses’. The question changes from ‘should I buy?’ to ‘which option should I choose?’.
- Focus on the relationship not the sale. It may take a few interactions before a customer is ready to buy.
- UPOD. Under promise and over deliver so you always exceed a customer’s expectations.
I’ve talked about the importance of articulating value, but what are the components of value?
If a customer declines to buy from you it’s because they don’t see the value; you haven’t articulated it well enough. There’s always money for what people want to buy; it’s about the value, not the money.
These are the three ingredients that determine value:
- Service: Most people expect good service, but do we always get it? Some questions you may like to ask yourself:
- What do you do that’s exceptional?
- What could you do?
- How can you demonstrate this to your prospective customers?
- Is your service level consistent across your business?
- Do some team members need training or perhaps to be shown the door of opportunity if they’re not performing?
Remember that bad news travels fast, so if you’re not providing good service your prospective customers will hear about it.
- Quality: Isn’t this a given too? Yes, but how often do we get great quality? How can you get previous customers to articulate the quality they’ve experienced from your products or services? Can you offer a money back guarantee?
- Price: By now you should have asked enough questions to know what problems your customer requires a solution for – and the value of that solution. So, where are you positioned price wise in relation to your competition?
If the value you provide is greater than the price – a sale will happen. Make sure your price is connected to the value. If you’re at the high end, use this to your advantage; promote your quality. If you wanted a heart surgeon would you want the cheapest or the best?
Building the value in your product or service will build trust in your brand. A trusted and approved brand is far more likely to get more referrals as well.
Now we’re going to look at four sales techniques you can start using to increase your sales:
- The Formula for Change.
- Wants vs Needs – The SPIN Cycle.
- Ask Don’t Tell.
The Formula for Change is: (D x V) + f > R
- R represents the client or customer’s Resistance to change – if we build up the variables on the left side of the equation then we can overcome the resistance and make the sale
- D represents Dissatisfaction with the status quo – we will start by building up the level of dissatisfaction
- V represents the Vision of a positive future state – this is the picture we will paint for the client or customer
- F is for First steps in the direction of the vision
You need to understand this formula instinctively. The formula makes it clear why change often doesn’t happen. Without dissatisfaction with the now, a vision for the future, and the ability to take simple steps towards the vision, there will be no change.
Wants vs Needs – The SPIN Cycle
It’s important to remember that clients or customers come to you because they want something, however this might not be what they actually need. There is likely an underlying problem as to why they want it.
You need to help your customers join the dots between what they want and what they need. This will allow you to offer your clients or customers the choice of yeses – they could purchase what the originally wanted, or they could purchase what they actually need to solve their underlying problem.
So how do we join the dots between wants and needs? We use a concept called The SPIN Cycle.
You begin by asking questions to understand the customer’s situation
- Why would you like to purchase this product or service?
- What will you be using it for?
- What else are you doing?
You then identify the problems that your client or customer might be experiencing e.g. lack of time, money, etc. and the impact of not solving their problems.
This will lead you to identify what they need to do to solve their problem, e.g. purchasing your product or service.
Ask Don’t Tell
The next sales technique is called ‘Ask don’t tell’ and reminds us to engage with our customers by asking them questions.
It’s important to begin by asking questions to find out what your customer needs, until you reach the point of engagement where the customer starts asking you questions instead.
For example a discussion might go like this:
Question: So how are your sales tracking right now?
Answer: They’ve dropped a bit since COVID hit
Question: What have you tried so far to increase sales?
Answer: I’ve increased my advertising
Question: Are your team members achieving the same sales outcomes you are?
Answer: No for some reason I seem to get better results than them.
Question: What sales training have you provided to your team?
Answer: I’ve shared a few ideas with them but nothing formal.
Question: Were you aware that we offer a value-based sales coaching service?
Answer / Question (The Point of Engagement): No, what does that involve?
Answer: Well we work together to start with by setting a sales action plan where we get clear on what we’re wanting to achieve and the steps needed to get there.
Question: That’s interesting, how much does that cost?
Answer: Well there are a number of options … now you have to wait till the end of this article to find out.
The point here is that, until you’re showing some interest by asking me questions, you’re not engaged or interested.
The 4th sales technique is really simple – just follow up!
Most people obtain at least two proposals to compare before making a purchase.
When only 44% of salespeople follow up a proposal – if you follow up, by default, your chances of getting the job improve instantly, you’ll appear proactive and be in a position to negotiate (depending on the nature of the job or product).
Without follow up, you’ll never know why someone didn’t choose your product or service.
Consider the touch points you have with prospects that could count as contact, e.g. meeting at a networking event, being heard on the radio, seeing you in the paper or socially, or being referred to positively by a client (word of mouth).
BAMFAM stands for ‘Book A Meeting From A Meeting’. It’s far easier to sell to an existing customer than it is to sell to a new customer.
Arrange your follow up at the time of first sale so that you have permission to contact the customer again.
Overcoming objections is often a part of making a sale and means the prospect isn’t convinced of the value of what you’re offering. The most common objections are no time or no money.
This is where you can again use The Formula for Change – if your prospect has an objection, drill down into the dissatisfaction, build the vision or make the first steps easier.
Reverse testimonials (or case studies) are great as they show how others in a similar position have benefited from buying your products or services.
The AQUA technique provides a best practice process for responding to objections:
A: Acknowledge the way the person is feeling (and their objection).
Q: Question what they mean about the objection – what is it about the solution you’re offering that isn’t going to give them what they want?
U: Understand their objection and show them you understand by paraphrasing.
A: Answer – only after you’ve done the first three steps can you revisit the proposal or offer an alternative.
Your Sales Action Plan is a concise plan for your Sales department.
We’ll begin by setting your budget for the year. We’ll break your overall sales budget into key components and set targets for each quarter. During each coaching session, we’ll update your quarterly targets to reflect your actual results so you stay on track to achieve your annual budget.
We’ll then set Key Performance Indicators for the year and each quarter.
Next, we’ll identify the opportunities available to your business and the vulnerabilities you must manage.
Finally, we’ll set sales goals for the year and break these down into 90 day goals and actions to achieve these goals.
We’ll update your Sales Action Plan at each coaching session.
My aim is to help you take what you’ve learnt today and implement some positive change in your business.
So what are your next steps from here?
- Doing nothing is not an option. Doing what you have always done is unlikely to give you the same results as you’ve had in the past… So, commit to doing something.
- Make a clear plan that you can articulate to your team.
- Focus on what you can do as opposed to worrying about what is out of your control.
- We are here to help you.
The information in this article is general in nature and no substitute for specific, tailored advice and support. There are several ways that we can help you more specifically beyond today’s article…
First of all, we can work with you to create your Sales Action Plan. This plan pulls together the ideas that we have shared today and sets out clear targets, goals, and actions for you to implement.
Beyond the Sales Action Plan, we offer Value-Based Selling Coaching either to you or your team members or both. This way we ensure the actions in the plan become a reality and that the skills and techniques are committed to memory.
If you’re not quite ready to commit to a paid service, here’s a complimentary Formula for Change Worksheet for you to complete. The worksheet will help you define the questions you can ask to build dissatisfaction with the status quo for your customers and build their vision of what life will be like if they buy from you. The worksheet also helps you to define the choice of yeses or sales options you can provide for your customer and you can use this worksheet for many of your different products and services.
If you’re not yet one of our clients, or if you’d like to discuss your options to improve sales outcomes in more detail let’s catch up for a complimentary meeting to see how we can work together.
“Approach each customer with the idea of helping him or her solve a problem or achieve a goal, not of selling a product or service.”
– Brian Tracy
Make a simple plan today – commit to at least three actions you’ll take as a result of today’s article. Write them down, give each of them an owner and a completion date and remember, if you need a reliable chartered accountant in Auckland, we are here for you.
Have you set your business vision, purpose, and values? If you’re still stuck, we recommend reading this article next!
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