“Sales” is still topic that gives the average person an icky feeling. We have all been subject to an aggressive salesperson (or two or twenty). The emotions that result are annoying at best and abusive at worst. No wonder we think of these experiences when we think of the concept of “sales.” It feels other. If it is something you can receive training in, it must be about tricks instead of techniques. It must be creating confusion that leads to sales instead of creating value that does.
But here is the truth: anyone who convinces someone of the value of an idea is engaged in “sales.” Here are some examples:
- You lead a team at work in a new initiative.
- You want to convince your spouse about that Disney World trip.
- You just gave a gift to someone who doesn’t know what the item is or what it does.
- You need to switch shifts with a co-worker at a retail store.
- And yes, you sell directly to potential customers.
Selling isn’t about making people buy something they don’t want. At its core, “sales” is the ability to uncover value and relay that to another person in a way that meets them where they are.
You will never con someone into buying something. Even if a person does buy under pressure, they will regret it later; if you do that enough times, you tank your reputation.
The pivotal shift is viewing “sales” as a way to increase traction and revenue while genuinely helping others. When you consider it this way, it is no longer a four-letter word.
So “sales” is essential, but how do you improve?
First, when looking at resources, ensure they are more than just high-pressure tricks to close the deal as fast as possible. Second, practice incorporating what you learn as quickly as you can in every instance possible.
There are books and blogs dedicated to this topic that go far more in-depth than I can here, but here are a couple of simple starting points:
Your product has features, but they won’t sell anything!
You must uncover what your prospect wants, needs, and any pain they are in related to what you offer. As you interview them and learn who they are and their story, you can start to match your feature with a benefit to them. Features are static; benefits are personal. Features don’t change from prospect to prospect, but the benefits will.
For example, the Apple MacBook Pro has fast and flexible USB-C ports for external devices. One customer loves to make videos, and the increased speed of the port means less time importing footage. Another wants to record audio, and the port means they can record more inputs at once so they can finally track their garage band simultaneously. The USB-C port is the feature, but you identify the benefits for each prospect and relay how it will improve their lives.
Selling well is an improv exercise.
It can be too easy to assume you know what is happening in a prospect’s head, even when they haven’t told you. Never assume! Even if an inference seems plain as day, you do not know until you ask. Getting the maximum amount of factual information about the idea you sell helps you meet their real needs and desires.
Both of those techniques can help you sell anything well. They help your relationship with the prospect instead of pressuring or tricking them. That is the goal.
When you approach “sales” as a means of helping others, it becomes essential to improve your skills. “Sales” doesn’t have to be a curse word any longer!