Selling doesn’t need to be hard.
Let me rephrase that…you have to work hard to succeed, but selling doesn’t need to be difficult.
I’ve been working with a bunch of clients recently and what is really exciting is seeing the ah-ha moments when they realize what true selling really is and some if the easy ways they can attract customers quickly. And that it’s not all about the pitch, features, or benefits! Today, I am going to give you the goods. Stuff you can apply right away! If you follow ANY sales tips I give, choose these as the cornerstones.
Plus, I will share some awesome books you should buy or download.
(Click here or the play button below to listen to the post)
I work with sales people all over the world in various industries and I love training and development. The two most common comments I get:
- I want to increase my sales
- I don’t want to be “salesy”
Does that sound like you?
I’m on a mission to help more people be REAL when selling and help their customers buy from them. Novel idea, right? As Jeffrey Gitomer says, “People love to buy, but hate to be sold.”
Know this: Selling is Honorable
Let’s put that on the table first. No matter what product or service you offer, make sure that it helps your customer. If you believe that what you offer truly helps your customer, then make a commitment to them and to yourself that you will help them buy.
Amateurs will try and use tactics, manipulate, and fumble around to connect. The sales masters are the ones who work on themselves first, do the hard work, and serve their customers empathetically.
Everyone should learn how to sell, period.
Every successful business owner, CEO, or leader has solid sales skills. Whether you call yourself a salesperson or not, developing these skills will help you, not just in business, but in life.
SALES TIP #1) Humans Need Help Making Decisions
Do you find that often you lose a sale to a “non decision?” Well, that’s normal. With the crazy amounts of information and options out there for customers, they can get paralyzed with indecision. They want to buy something, but they can’t quite make the leap.
Your role in selling is not simply to provide them with answers and make them feel good. Your ultimate job is to help people get out of the black hole of not taking action. You must find a way to show them the opportunities, the pathway to get there, and influence them to take the first step.
If you aren’t doing this, you are a part of the problem, not the solution.
One of my favorite passages is in Chet Holmes, The Ultimate Sales Machine where he talks about his first sales training from his managers:
You see, these people come in here who’ve been looking for a living room set for, like, four months. They’ve been to a dozen stores. Know what that is? That’s weak salespeople who don’t know their job. Your job is to take those folks out of their misery. Ever seen someone who’s been looking for six moths and then the day they make that final decision to buy, they can’t wait to get that set in their home. Jeez, they’d take it the same day if they could get it. People don’t regret when they buy, unless they buy a lemon. Most people are thrilled when they buy. Your job, Chet, is to help people make that decision to buy. That is the greatest weakness in folks – they’re not good at making decisions. If you truly believe that your prospect should benefit from your product or service, it’s your moral obligation to help them make a decision and get on with their lives.
Wow. I just love that! These two sentences stick with me all the time:
“If you truly believe that your prospect should benefit from your product or service, it’s your moral obligation to help them make a decision and get on with their lives.”
“People don’t regret when they buy, unless they buy a lemon”
Now ask yourself if you are really doing your best to help take people out of their misery. Are you doing everything in your power to help them make decisions. Are you encouraging them? or are you letting them walk away and “think about it?”
If you truly want to succeed in selling, make it your personal duty to lead your customers, help them take action, and get them out of their misery.
In The Challenger Sale, one of the big ideas is that the most successful salespeople are not those who try and build relationships first. The ones that win are the ones who challenge their customers to think differently. They help the see hidden opportunities. They help them avoid landmines. They work to shift their thinking and inspire them to take action.
Increase Sales Today: Help your customer take action on one step and don’t let them “think about it.”
SALES TIP #2) Understand the 3 Part Brain and the Way People Make Decisions
I have written about this before on this series of posts, but here’s the punchline:
Humans are designed for survival and where you most likely go wring in selling is by addressing the wrong part of the brain. The brain has three parts:
- Reptilian: Responsible for survival
- Limbic System: Responsible for emotions, associative memory, and social context
- Neocortex: Responsible for thinking, rationalizing, and logic
Essentially what happens most often when you try to sell, you most likely address the neocortex. You think that the other brain is like a computer and it will simply process your information. But it doesn’t work that way. It filters through the reptilian and limbic systems to determine if what you say is worth paying attention to.
First, the reptilian brain decides if you are safe. When we feel pitched to, warnings go off to keep us away from danger. So your first battle is to not be “salesy.” Then, the limbic system tries to see if what we are hearing has context for us and whether we can associate to it. While at the same time, deciding if it “feels right.”
All of this goes on without us thinking about it and unless what you are saying is new, exciting, surprising, or inspiring, it will never fully reach the neocortex for processing or decision making.
Unfortunately, we have been designed to speak and sell from the neocortex and buy and receive through the reptilian and limbic system.
This is exactly why most sales calls fall into the abyss. The most well thought out set of powerpoint slides cannot beat the natural instincts of the human brain.
So what can you do? Well, first just simply understand this concept. Then, work on being more human and natural when you meet with people. I say “Don’t be a sales weirdo.”
Make sure that you are creating excitement, that your material is relevant and resonates with your customer, and to not bombard people with a bunch of information.
Increase Sales Today: Less is more. Resist the temptation to provide too much information. Instead, work on connecting with your customers on a human level first.
SALES TIP #3) Provide Insights and Education, Not Info
Stop the madness. People don’t need more information!
Education and insights are really what your customers need. They need help. They need to know how to connect the dots and makes sense of all the info that’s out there. You should be bringing in your unique expertise and helping them solve problems! Novel idea, right?
Hey I just checked and exactly one year ago, I wrote a post on getting customers to chase you with insight selling. This has been a consistent topic of my training with clients all year. And it works.
Basically, I’m asking you to stop and have some empathy for your poor customers. Put yourself in their shoes and also think about that 3 part brain. They aren’t looking for more facts and figures. They don’t want your complex stuff. They simply want to improve their position. Your customers will love you if you show them something new, shift their thinking, and disrupt their equilibrium.
By asking questions and providing powerful insights, you are doing what’s called “cognitive reframing” and getting them to see the world differently.
One of my favorite books is Insight Selling: Surprising Research on What Sales Winners Do Differently. Mike Schultz and John Doerr are Co-Presidents of the RAIN Group and are a wonderful high level resource that everyone should follow and buy from. Plus, how awesome is the name “Doerr” for a sales guy?
Increase Sales Today: Before your next meeting, write out some surprising and inspiring insights you can share with your customers about their world.
SALES TIP #4) Get Rid of Your Sales Breath
I recently visited a friend in Madison, Wisconsin and he invited me to attend the PGA Championship in the private hospitality suite. What an amazing time – I was blown away! Karl is a VERY successful Adviser with Northwestern Mutual and is in the process of building a vineyard and destination winery. He would be someone you would want to model if you are thinking about upping your sales game
He is a superstar in selling, and we had some great conversations about what really matters in sales. I was all ears. The one thing we both laughed about was the concept of sales breath. He told me that he refers to it as “premium breath.”
You see, people have this weird relationship with money. We give it too much power. Money is simply a vehicle and represents an indirect exchange. But when you have it on your mind, people can smell it. And it smells terrible.
And when you try too hard to “sell,” you break any rapport you build.
This concept is actually a deep-rooted instinct. In Thinking, Fast and Slow, psychologist Daniel Kahneman talks about the concept of money priming and that when we are thinking about money, we subconsciously create barriers with others and we are less likely to help. Read more about this on my sales breath post.
Bottom line, to increase sales you must forget about money and focus instead on how you can serve your customers. The less you think about getting money from others, the more sales you will get.
Increase Sales Today: Before you go into your next sales call, think about how you can improve the life of your customer, rather than how you can get their money.
SALES TIP #5) Make Selling a Game
One of the most fun aspects of my job is taking people who are tightly wound up and stressed about their sales performance and seeing them over time relax, have fun, and win more often! It is such a cool thing to see you get out of the “mechanics” of selling and dive into the human side of it.
Yesterday I had a wonderful call with a client, Mike, and he was actually helping me with some of my content for an upcoming course I’m launching on Udemy. I was asking him about his key shifts in his thinking and the thing that really stuck was how he describe the fun he is having just testing all this psychology stuff.
Since we have been working together, he has started observing behavior and signals more easily. He can now identify where other people are taking control, ways to create the right tension, and how to address the necessary parts of the brain. Like a judo champ.
Mike shared with me that the big realization is that sales is really like learning a new language. At first, it’s awkward. Then you start to build sentences. And eventually you can craft dialogues. But it takes time!
It is so awesome to just simply test new ideas and principles to see what works. When you make this all about learning and trying new things, it becomes MEGA-fun.
It always reminds me of this scene at the end of “The Matrix” where Neo starts to see the Agents as numbers and symbols. Time slows down and all of a sudden he “gets it.”
When you learn how to sell the right way, you’ll see there is no spoon.
Increase Sales Today: Test one new idea each week and see what you can learn from it. Make it a game and don’t get stuck being too serious.
SALES TIP #6) The First Buying Decision is YOU
People make decisions in a very predictable way, but most likely you are selling to them in the wrong order. The order is:
- Your company
- Your product
- The Price
- The time to buy
But where does the conversation usually start? You got it – “What is it and how much is it?” In my post Selling Made Easy I cover the rest of the buying decisions and how to present effectively.
This is another big epiphany that my clients have after some time. We get into personal branding and selling yourself and they realize that it usually never comes down to the product or service, even if it is highly commoditized.
You see, people are willing to pay as much as 15% more for a similar product as long as they see value. And in most studies of buyer behavior and decisions, the number one place they see the most value is in the salesperson themselves!
Bring all the previous tips together and what you have is that you should be great at connecting, influencing, providing insights, asking great questions, and have fun learning. Nowhere do we talk about knowing how to talk about your product.
YOU are the most valuable part of the sale. Get ridiculously good at selling yourself and you will always succeed.
What is your WHY?
Take 18 minutes out of your day and watch Simon Sinek’s TED Talk on How Great Leaders Inspire Action. Sinek wrote the book, Start with Why and explains that people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.
To attract more of your ideal customers, make yourself as attractive as possible in all ways.
Increase Sales Today: Write down ten reasons why people should want to work with YOU.
Making the Most of Your Sales Training
I wasn’t planning on writing this much today, but I got caught up in sharing these ideas.
I know you have lots to do and that sometimes this can get overwhelming, but to succeed long term, you need to keep learning. And learning the right way.
To make the most of this, you need to take action. Don’t simply read or watch and be entertained. It wont stick.
I love Bloom’s Taxonomy that describes the various levels of learning:
The lowest level of learning is memorization and knowledge. Don’t get stuck here simply gathering info. Work your way into understanding what you have learned, applying it, making it a part of your DNA, and then constantly learning from what you have been testing.
Only through work, repetition, and self reflection can you become a master at anything.
Don’t fall into the trap of the “quick fix” society. Take control of your future and make the most of your time and learning.
For an easy list, here are the books mentioned in this post. Pick one and try out a single idea to apply this week.
- Thinking, Fast and Slow
- The Ultimate Sales Machine: Turbocharge Your Business with Relentless Focus on 12 Key Strategies
- The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Customer Conversation
- Pitch Anything: An Innovative Method for Presenting, Persuading, and Winning the Deal
- What Great Salespeople Do: The Science of Selling Through Emotional Connection and the Power of Story
- Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action
Wow, I made it to the end! I’m excited to share this all with you and I want to help you succeed.
Make sure you like and share this post. Post a comment about how you plan on applying these skills or perhaps another great resource you have found helpful.
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