This post is part of our Weekly Tips series.
I’ve been writing a lot about screw-ups lately (mostly mine). This week brings a little reprieve in order to focus on sales mastery. Don’t worry, there are more screw-ups in the queue.
In looking over the 229 tips I have written to date, I’ve apparently had a lot to say about what’s wrong with conventional sales training and practices.
Much of what I’ve written was originally inspired by my co-author Charlie Green’s solo work, Trust-Based Selling, and confirmed by a heavy dose of all the mistakes I’ve seen my clients make along with my own experience.
The sales topic is germane no matter what title your business card indicates (every single one of us is selling ideas). Given the plethora of really bad advice out there about how to do it, I decided to compile some important stuff into a Sales Mastery eBook. It’s the usual no-strings-attached fare, with thirteen thought pieces excerpted from our Weekly Tips series in three categories.
Here are some highlights in case you don’t have the time or inclination to read the whole eBook and want to refresh on key lessons:
Category 1: Mind your mindset
- Remember, the goal of trust-based selling is radically different from the goal of traditional selling: it’s to help them do what’s right for them, not to convince them to buy from you. The difference is huge. Helping is other-focused, non-manipulative, and trust-building. Get your intentions aligned and all the right behaviors will naturally follow.
- We rarely focus enough on the psychology of buying/selling and three resulting insights about buyers of professional services: they’re naturally skeptical, they make emotionally-based decisions (as we all do), and they’re dealing with their own fears in the buying process (whether they admit it or not).
- Buyers have to decide two things before they hire you: (1) Can you do the job and (2) Do they want to work with you? The latter is a much more emotional question, and answering it requires something considerably more personal than the March of 1,000 slides. You don’t emerge from the selection process on top because of competence; you get there because of fit.
Category 2: Kick conventional wisdom to the curb
- Speaking of 1,000 slides, do you use the one that has about 20 logos on it to show who your clients are? The more important question is, where does it appear in your deck? If the answer is “early on,” please reconsider. Early on should be all about them, not all about you.
- Conventional sales language (“prospects and suspects,” “targets,” “tips and tricks for closing more deals”) draws down on trust big time. Language matters because the words we choose both reflect and shape the way we and others think about things, as well as people—including the people we’re trying so mightily to serve.
- The practice of “overcoming objections” is dangerous if trust is your aim. It suggests that whatever resistance you get from the other party should be handled/managed/tackled. Who wants to be handled/managed/tackled? Not I, not you, and not your clients. Personally, I’d rather you try to understand me, all-the-while making it clear that you’re the kind of person with whom I can freely share all of my concerns because you’ve made it clear you have my best interests at heart.
Category 3: Play the long game
- Being in touch with clients takes focus and effort, not time. One touch-point in a twelve-month period might be plenty, if it’s the right touch point—like the anniversary of the successful completion of your project.
- Just how committed are you to delivering a remarkable experience to the people you serve? One financial manager routinely considers how he might be helpful to his clients’ children—not as a way of getting referrals (although that’s sometimes a nice outcome), but as a way to build long-term relationships by continuously delivering for families. Makes you think, doesn’t it.
Imagine what would be possible if salespeople and influencers around the globe demonstrated the kind of everyday behaviors that align with these critical insights.
Aspirational? Yes. Challenging? Without a doubt. Worthwhile? Absolutely.
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As the founder of The Get Real Project, I am the steward of our vision and our service offerings, as well as a workshop leader and keynote speaker.
Above all else, I am an entrepreneur on a mission: to kick conventional business wisdom to the curb and transform how people work together as a result. I am also the co-author, with Charles H. Green, of The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook (Wiley, 2012).