I don’t know.
This Valentine’s Day, if you love your business, use these three little words. “I don’t know.”
When people ask me what the best questions to ask customers are, or which CRM to use, or how to motivate their teams, I simply answer, “I don’t know.”
Not because I don’t actually have an answer, but because I don’t have the BEST answer for them…YET.
This post is part of my free 7 Day Sales Bootcamp email and audio series which I just finished. It has 7 big emails like this post and about 20 minutes of audio each. I had a blast building it, so check it out. I will be slowly releasing the emails as posts over the coming weeks too.
(Listen to this post here or by clicking the play button below)
The first lesson was all about what the Sales Masters do differently. And I like to call those people “Sales Heroes.” Here’s the thing – I look at selling as a heroic activity done by people who are willing to put themselves out there and be rejected. Sales is the lifeblood of business, yet we resist doing it. It’s not easy, but my vision is to help people really have some fun helping THEIR customers buy from them.
And I know this is true because when I tell someone they ARE a sales hero, they get it. But they ask, “Why do I feel so bad when I sell?” and sometimes they even cry because they really DO want to help their customers. It’s because you haven’t learned what is working and you keep doing what doesn’t work. That makes you feel icky.
The biggest take away from the last lesson is the idea that you should never stop learning. Always be coachable!
There is no magic in selling. To get good, you need to do the work.
Today, I want to cover an often overlooked part of your sales development, and that is the idea of testing absolutely everything you do. This is everything including the language you use, tone of voice, posture, processes, and even the intentions you set.
If you listen to one idea I have, it’s this one. Adopt a testing mentality and simply learn what works and what doesn’t.
Here’s what I mean.
No matter how much experience you have, you can always get better. And even when I work with the most experienced people, we can find ways to pull even better results out of their processes.
Here’s what I know – A brand new rep with tested, best practices can outperform a veteran rep who just keeps winging it.
Is what you’re doing each day consistent? Is it documented? Is it followed? And are you constantly learning from it?
The truth is that most salespeople just wing it!
94% of the failures are a result of the system and not the person. This was according to W Edwards Deming, who was a world-renowned consultant and responsible for the spectacular rise of Japanese industry after World War II.
Think about that for a moment. When selling, too often we are worried about our results. We are constantly seeking VALIDATION in the form of a yes, or deal with REJECTION in the form of a no.I would like to help you see that these nos and yeses are simply a result of your systems and processes, not a reflection of you as a person. Now, don’t get all misty-eyed because I think you’re special.
What I mean is that when you look at your business and the results you are getting, there are most likely things that you’re doing that simply aren’t working. When we look at a chart of the results and processes, most likely we will see dramatic swings up and down. And in sales, it is the concept of “One month you’re the hero, next month you’re the goat.”
Your focus should be on testing everything, until you can predict quite accurately what will happen next, and THEN move on to adding more to the process. This is called reducing variation.
Too many times I see organizations swinging for the fences on some new idea or method and they jump back and forth. It happens all over because of the lack of testing.
When I work with my teams and everyone throws ideas and opinions on the table, I always use these three little words:
BASED ON WHAT?
The big idea here is that I have no idea what the right thing to do is…until we test it. Every business is different, and every scenario has a multitude of ways it could go. By testing, we learn how to identify opportunities quicker.
And keep in mind that as the markets change, your customers change. If you are not keeping up with these changes, you lose. What worked yesterday may not work today, so always be testing and learning.
How to answer “what do you do?”
I work my teams through a number of activities and usually we work on this right away. I simply ask them what they do. The crazy thing is that most people, even experienced ones, trip over their tongues. Worse yet, most of them just rattle off some pointless elevator pitch that makes my eyes glaze over.
They usually just say their title, like:
- Real Estate Agent
- Manufacturing Sales Person
- Account Manager
And when ask them to describe what makes them different, they say words like:
- Customer Service
- Follow up
What the hell do any of these words mean? If you take your name off what you’re saying, could anyone else say it about themselves?
I will go into more detail on this idea in lesson 6.
I was working my client through this and we hit on a great analogy to illustrate this point.
If I was single at a bar and I went up to a woman who seemed nice and open to talk, how would she respond if I said this: “Hi, I’m Joe and I am a nice guy. I am trustworthy, I have a good sense of humor, and I can cook decently. I would like to see if you would consider talking further about your boyfriend needs.”
How do you think she would respond? Well we came up with the name, “night club weirdo.” (PS listen to the audio for the full effect and to hear my sweet acting skills)
When we look a the words we use in our sales conversations, are we saying anything valuable, or simply being a “sales weirdo?”
That feeling of being off when we are selling is exactly what we are all trying desperately to avoid, right?
So how do we avoid being “salesy” and weird?
It’s actually quite simple. You test your language. The test is easy. When you say something, do people look interested? Do they lean in and say, “oh that’s interesting?” Or do they stare at you blankly? It sounds silly, but most people trying to sell something, just keep repeating the same words over and over and don’t know why it’s not working.
I take my clients through a very fun exercise that starts to get them closer to language they can use that gets people excited. Then, guess what we do? You’re right, we TEST it!
First, we practice and record it, then they go out and start to talk to people. And do you think it comes easy? NOPE.
Try this with yourself. Review what you say to potential customers during your first point of contact. Ask people what they think of it. Try and come up with a better way to get people to immediately become excited about you.
Now, record yourself saying it. I guarantee that what you hear in your head will come out completely different from your mouth.
The magic happens here is all about getting uncomfortable. We will talk in Lesson 7 more about comfort zones and getting into a state of flow.
Get uncomfortable until it gets comfortable.
When you are testing new ideas, you must be willing to take risks.
My big question is:
What’s the worst that could happen?
Go back to the concept of rejection. We are all so afraid of being rejected that we avoid saying and doing the wrong things. We try and sound perfect and we work on our “pitches.”
The reality is that, for most people, what you’re saying is not working. Unless you have thoroughly tested it and built a best practice (I have yet to meet someone who blows me away).
What about your voicemails? Do you test those?
My goal for you in this lesson is to try something new and test it. Try a new way to say things. And see what happens.
When you get into a testing mentality, it feels like you are starting your journey all over again. It’s exciting! I see many tired reps and entrepreneurs who have begun to doubt themselves and their abilities. Some even think they need to get a different job.
Remember that it’s not a failure of YOU, but of your system and process. The only key is if you are willing to do that hard work to make selling look easy.
My mission is to make selling a fun activity, not a scary or stressful one. You are out there helping people solve problems with your offer and if you KNOW that what you have can help them, and they don’t buy from you, then that’s on you. You have to take responsibility to find the most ideal way to help your customers buy and help them love working with you.
So forget about trying to be perfect, and go test some ideas. Have fun, be authentic, and find some stuff that works for you. Ask for feedback too!
In the next lesson, we will talk about selling in stages and the value exchange you have with your customer. And guess what? It’s not about money!
If you haven’t yet, sing up to get all 7 lessons on the 7 Day Sales Bootcamp!
Here are some related posts from my blog that go into more details on some of these ideas:
- One simple goal: Be more authentic this year
- Two types of mindsets: Which one do you have?
- Strategy vs Tactic: Choose wisely
- 3 Little words to use for effective meetings