Whether you already sell and want to sell more, or you think “you’re not in sales,” this will help you get laser focused on getting customers easier this year.
I have been surveying my clients, partners, staff, and pretty much anyone these past few weeks to see what has been really working for them to increase sales.
My goal here is to help you simplify what you’re doing, have more fun, and grow your revenue. All without having to be more “salesy.” Cool?
(Click here or the play button below to listen to the podcast)
Make sure you listen to this podcast as well because I will be doing some killer impressions of these keys for you to listen to!
I took a few weeks off from writing and have been feeling a bit guilty. However, these past few months have been crazy busy, we’ve been adding lots of new awesome clients, and actually made life much easier by getting focused.
Over the past few weeks, I took some time to see where others are doing well, where they are feeling challenged, and what key take-aways they are applying. Also, as I am bringing on new clients, it’s amazing to see how quickly they can transform from being overwhelmed to absolute confidence and joy in selling.
Note: Throughout, I will be linking to other posts for reference, but I suggest reading it all the way through, and THEN going back to beef up that knowledge.
Let’s talk about some of these keys to selling:
Keys to Selling #1: Don’t be a Salesy Weirdo
This term I came up with earlier last year and now all my clients are using it. I was trying to come up with a word for what I was hearing on all the sales calls I listened to. And it hit me. “You’re being a weirdo.”
Now, some people ask, “what if I’m already weird?” Here’s the catch, the “Salesy Weirdo” factor is the difference between how you normally speak with people and this odd character you create for the salesperson you become. There are two types of weirdos:
- The overly formal and serious closer type of salesy weirdo. This is what I often hear people trying to be when they think of themselves in selling. Please don’t do this. Stop the madness
- The overly enthusiastic, everything is awesome, salesy weirdo. You know this one. You answer the phone and it sounds like, “Hiiiiii, how are yooooooou today?” And you think, “oh god, sales rep.” Please don’t do that. Please, stop doing that. Please don’t call me and do that.
So what’s the key? Be normal!
When I build sales conversations with clients, we do a huge part of our work on pre-call planning and opening the call effectively. The first 30-90 seconds decides everything on a sales call. Part of that planning is setting your intentions on how you want to be perceived.
My own personal mindset is that I want the other person to think, “Hey this sounds like a guy I would hang out with at the pub, have a beer with, and talk business.” If I can stay in that sweet spot of sharing insights, being interesting, and just having real conversations, the rest is easy.
Keys to Selling #2: Be a Master Listener
It’s funny to me that most people work so hard to learn all of their stuff like product knowledge, ROI, their sales pitch, etc. But so few practice how to be an effective listener.
- Do you catch yourself just waiting for your turn to speak?
- Do you interrupt people?
- Do you forget to acknowledge when they tell you something?
- Do you talk more than you listen?
I can list twenty more things that I hear happening all the time on sales calls and in day to day conversations. To be effective at helping your customers identify, understand, and invest in solutions to their problems, you need to be completely clear on what they need. You cant do that by talking.
Try these few things to be a better listener:
- Read my post on the three part sales conversation. See how one easy question will help you connect quickly.
- When people speak to you, don’t rush to say the next thing. Pause, acknowledge what they said, and make them feel listened to.
- Take notes. Focus on one or two things they say and ask about them. You will be surprised at how many times you miss words like, struggle, scared, uneasy, excited, nervous, tried it before, researching.
The biggest listening skill? Empathy. Just try and imagine what is going on in their world and care about them!
Keys to Selling #3: Have Patience in Conversations
One mistake I see often in selling is similar to the part on listening. But it’s that we have a bunch of questions we want to ask our potential customer and we feel like if we don’t get through them all, we didn’t do our job. NOPE!
Your whole goal in sales conversations is to move people forward, not interrogate them. You are establishing trust, credibility, and connection. Give yourself permission to stay on one topic for much longer. Be interested in a great dialogue, rather than trying to get through everything.
Show them you are interested in what they are saying, and ask deeper questions to make sure you are talking about the same thing. Share with them some ideas, insights, and stories that enhance the message.
Keys to Selling #4: Be Consistent
The easiest way to explain this is to go get sold to. That’s right, go be a customer. I did this for a few months and was blown away at how awful it felt to be sold to. And how inconsistent sales reps are when you begin to ignore them. Whether someone buys from you, can you be authentic and consistent in your level of service?
Here’s what I experienced that made me feel bad as a customer:
- I apply online to look at some product or service. For example, a CRM
- I get the high energy email that says, “I’m so glad you reached out to us, we are happy…let’s talk!”
- I receive the phone message that says the same thing, “When can we speak?”
- I get another phone message that sounds more like they HAVE to call me, “Haven’t heard from you…when can we speak?”
- I then (almost like clockwork) get the email that says, “we have unsuccessfully tried to reach you. If I don’t hear back from you by the end of the week, I will close your file.” Wait, what file?
And seriously, this is happening everywhere. It feels bad as a customer. What these reps don’t know is that I am still evaluating their tools, doing research, and things got pretty busy.
If you are selling in this way, stop it right now. Yes you need to follow up, but ask yourself, “What’s in it for them?” If you look at that example, there was nothing compelling for me, just them trying to get me to do something. Then, since I was unresponsive, I was classified as a bad customer. Be very careful when you do this as you eliminate a massive potential customer base. Ask yourself what service YOU would want as a customer. Then do that.
Keys to Selling #5: Think of Your Customer as a Long Term Partner
When you approach each customer interaction from the mindset of long term strategic partner, magical things happen. All of these previous points make way more sense! Long term, you will naturally be normal and not weird, you will want to listen better, and you will be consistent. So start from there right away.
Look at your customers world through their eyes. Try and imagine what they are dealing with and work your butt off to try and add value to them. Imagine what it would take for them to invite you to their board room to discuss strategy. Who would you have to become to be the first person they call when they have an idea – whether they buy from you or not?
If you apply all of these keys and have real, insightful, and opportunity-focused conversations, it now becomes more about you and them against the problem, rather than you against them. You stand beside each other, rather than across from each other. And when you start thinking like this, naturally your language will be along the lines of, “Wow, this is really an interesting project. I think we would work well together and I would love to bring you on as a client to work on this.”
Keys to Selling #6: Be Confident in Everything
Note: Not cocky.
One of the 6 main areas of the sales conversation is how well you ask for commitment. Check out my Sales Call Rubric for the details on this. Essentially, when you ask someone to make a decision, do you do it with a question mark or an exclamation mark?
When you describe what you do, are you excited but not too eager?
Mirror neurons play a powerful role in connecting your message to others. If you are confident, you will transfer that confidence to them. Likewise, if you present un-confidently, you tap into the subconscious reptilian brain that humans, as survival creatures, make us fearful. Your customer gets that spidey-sense and you create resistance.
Make sure that whatever you talk about, you believe it!
Keys to Selling #7: Keep Your Language Simple
I’ve been studying a cool thing called the “fluency effect” which is essentially how communication relies on how effectively your message is delivered. If you use complicated words, unnecessary fonts in design, or complex descriptions, you run the risk of your message not being received.
The test I proposed a few months ago was to try and sell to a 13 year old and see if what you say makes sense.
So stop using jargon, acronyms, and all other things that you are trying to sound smart with, and work on talking like a human.
The question I ask myself is, “Can I simplify a complex idea or do just I mask mediocre ideas with complex language?”
Keys to Selling #8: Be More Vulnerable
Adding to that last thought in Key #7, it’s totally okay to NOT know something. You don’t need to make stuff up to sound smart, you don’t need to invent fancy words, and you don’t need to try and impress people. Let them just be impressed by you.
When I do big group sessions, this is probably the most difficult conversation to have, as no one wants to be vulnerable – especially in sales. We have to put on that armor, be perfect, and not flinch, right? Well, think about mirror neurons again for a second. We are asking our clients to be vulnerable, right? To open up and share with us. Well, if we put on a perfect, “everything is awesome” front, guess what they will do. Yup, the same.
Be normal, open up, tell them you are unclear about something they said. Share a lesson you learned about something this year. Perhaps a struggle you are having in keeping your resolutions. Anything.
Vulnerability does not mean weakness. It means you’re human. Humans buy from other humans.
I try and apply this all the time on my own sales calls, whether it is with a CEO of a huge company, or a new entrepreneur. We all want to have more real conversations in our days, right?
Keys to Selling #9: Disrupt Their Patterns
One of the areas I love studying is the field of “social cognitive neuroscience.” As part of Key #7, that is simply the ways our brains work when interacting with others. Over the past decade, there have been so many new studies as the technology like fMRIs allow us to see inside the brain as it actively works. This stuff is fascinating, especially as it applies to selling.
Check out my four part series on how the brain works for the details on brain evolution.
But, let’s keep it simple. Think about all the stuff you have to do every day. All the stimuli – the buzzes, beeps, emails, social media, videos, family, and so on…
Now empathize with your poor customer. They have it just as bad as you. And now you want to add to their plate by selling to them. Giving them content, info, more to think about…shame on you!
What do we want to do? Make their lives easier!
Your customer has a lot on their mind. What will you do to disrupt their thinking and pay attention to you?
The way the brain works here is that the survival mechanism acts like a gatekeeper. All this happens at the subconscious level.
- If it’s not new and exciting, we dismiss it.
- If it is new and exciting, we decide if we should pay attention
- If it is new, exciting, and we should pay attention, then we will process it in our thinking brain
So before you start giving a bunch of information, ask yourself if what you are doing for your customers is new and exciting. When their attention starts to waver and their eyes gloss over (and that will happen), what will you do to bring them back? Share a story, do something interesting, or provide an insight they would have never though of.
Keys to Selling #10: Have Fun
I was trying to keep it short today, but of course I got carried away. For me, this is fun, so I guess that highlights my point!
I hope that all of these points connect with you and give you some take-aways for your own business. If you apply just one lesson, use this one. Have fun, connect with others, and get excited about the opportunity to just have conversations with customers. Forget about results. Focus on being totally, 100% present with everyone you talk to.
Find a way to genuinely enjoy what you do, laugh more, and help others feel more relaxed.
The best gift you can give someone else is your own energy, so ask yourself if you are giving energy or taking it from others.
Of course, we all have to hit targets, numbers, quotas, budgets, whatever. Imagine your results if you could be more authentic on all of your sales calls. If you could absolutely nail the first few minutes of every call, you will have shorter and more effective calls, worry less about follow up, and most likely create high value customers.
What’s the other option? To think like most people do that “sales is just a numbers game.” Wrong. Sales is a people game. Learn more about people and you will never have to be “Salesy.”
Now whether you are just starting out or have decades of experience, go make a difference in the life of your customer.
Remember to like and share this and leave comments below on your sales tips or how you applied these ones!
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