Do you offer value to others or simply sell?
I think there has been a major shift in selling where we have forgotten what the purpose of the buyer-seller relationship is. It’s not about what you sell, but rather it’s all about the value they place on your offer. And it’s not just the stuff they pay money for – it’s everything you do, from your process, to your likability. And most of your customers are placing value on you way before they decide of your product is right for them.
You want more sales? Ask yourself if you are giving enough value at all stages of your process…
This post is one of the lessons in my free 7 Day Sales Bootcamp email series. If you haven’t signed up, get on it! There is a ton of value you can apply right away to your business. Doooooo it.
(listen to the audio by clicking here or the play button below to hear how this process helped me almost double my sales in one year)
Today is all about a big concept – VALUE. What do you give our customers and when? In the previous lesson, I went through the process of testing absolutely everything you do.
Today I want to help you see that the commitments you ask from people may need to change. And by doing so, your results will skyrocket. Essentially, we are going to look at the predictable ways people will buy from you and how to move them towards a decision easily.
Focus on activity rather than results
Have you ever said this? “I need to get two more customers this month.”
The problem with this thinking is that it’s not about the end result, but the activity at the front end.
In technical speak, the customers and revenue are called trailing indicators.
Instead of looking at trailing indicators like most people do, your focus should be on leading indicators or the number of:
- proposals submitted
The true professionals understand that it is activity that drives results – not some magic ability to generate sales.
If we know that we should be focused on activity, then let’s pause for a minute and realize that in most of our sales process, we don’t actually need to think about money. Because no money is exchanged until about the third step. Stick with me…
People buy in stages
Your customers buy in stages. First, they are unknown, and it’s your job to gain their attention by providing them with marketing, content, and many other things that grab their attention. If they resonate with your brand or message, your next goal is to get them to give you their contact info to find out more. What do you give them to get that info? Not money.
For most businesses, there are multiple steps like this with the next stage being the prospect stage. Once they give you their contact information, your goal is to get their time – whether it is for a sample session, a consultation, or a product review.
Remember that it doesn’t matter what they give you – their attention, their contact info, or their time – people value these parts of themselves just as much as they value their money. If not more.
So the big question is:
What value do you offer at each stage in return for what you ask of your customers?
Have a look at the image below which covers what I call the great value exchange.
When selling, most salespeople try and hit the home run and get those customers and they experience inconsistent, unpredictable results like we talked about in lesson 2.When you start to break down your sales process into the micro-commitments of your customers, your life becomes so much easier. This way, you just need to TEST how well you do in bite-size chunks.
Here’s an activity:
Start from your revenue and customer goals for the year. Then work your way backwards. To get that number of customers, how many proposals do you have to submit? What percentage are accepted? Then, look at how many appointments you have that are willing to consider a proposal. How many potential customers do you need to speak with to make an appointment? And finally, how many of the leads you get are willing to chat with you?
Now break down each stage into an appropriate conversion number and simply focus on getting enough leads, appointments, and proposals into your pipeline.
Doing it in this way will help you identify where you are weak and strong, and therefore where you need to focus more energy.
The power of reciprocity and concessions
I will tell you a powerful secret of influence and psychology. It’s one that you may already know, but are you applying it?
When you start to sell in stages, you need to be able to ask for a commitment to move them to the next step. What if they say no?
Most people will say, “well okay, let me know when you are ready to move forward…”
Or they will just keep following up and following up. There are two words that whenever I hear them, I die a little inside. They are:
DISCOUNTING & CHASING
If I ever hear you say you are chasing someone, you can bet I will be upset.
To stop from chasing, you should have multiple commitment objectives for each stage. These are simply options you give your buyer on HOW to move forward.
Remember that you should always have them think, “How should I buy” rather than “Should I buy?”
So let’s talk reciprocity…
Have you ever asked a favor? We all like giving favors. When someone does something nice for us, we’re compelled to return the favor. I train on this topic at length when we cover giving value first.
Psychologist Dr Robert Cialdini explains in Principles of Ethical Influence that there are two times when people are most inclined to return a favor:
- After they say “Thank you”
- After they say “No”
So the best time to give a concession is after someone rejects you. They will want to offer you a concession as well.
This is powerful knowledge you can use when asking for appointments.
Give your best stuff away for free
Are you afraid that if you give them too much value, that they will just take what you give and walk away? Maybe a few will, but giving your best stuff away for free actually shows them you have much more to offer.
If your best stuff is only after they buy from you, and they never buy, does it exist? hmmmm, think about it.
What can you offer your buyers at each stage that shows them you have a ton of value?
When you start to think about giving to them first, rather than taking, it will switch your mindset into the right place. You become a trusted resource and a valued partner.
TEST this out…
If you KNOW that nothing happens unless people meet with you, then wouldn’t logic tell you that you should ask for an appointment 100% of the time?
And if you now know that people are inclined to do you a favor after they say no, then use that moment to give a concession.
You: “I would love to meet with you and talk about this further. I have some ideas that I think would help you get the results we talked about. When are you available to meet for 30 minutes?”
Them: “Well I’m not quite sure if I am ready yet and I will get back to you.”
You: “Great, can you do me a favor in the meantime? Give me your email and I will send you the three insights I was telling you about and some other research you will find valuable.”
If they still say no, your next objective could be a commitment to at least a phone call.
The lesson here is to make sure you have multiple commitment objectives at each stage.
Also note that according to the research, if you don’t ask for that concession in the moment, but instead ask for it in the future, it will be treated as a brand new request and rejected easily.
The key to getting anyone to change their behavior is not to convince them to change, but rather to get them to DO something. So these simple actions get your customer to commit to an action…
These are some pretty important concepts in a short time here, so here’s what I suggest you do:
Do this: Combine lesson 2 and 3.
Go out and test your language with 10 new people this week in a networking setting or previous leads. Ask every single one of them for an appointment to meet with you to explore your solution further. if they say no to your request, ask them to do you a favor and be willing to send them something of crazy awesome value to take action on – a PDF, video, survey, checklist, etc. Maybe your 5 best tips or insights?
Then, review how many people moved forward. See what insights you gain and how you could be more effective. Solicit feedback. Ask how you did.Be willing to get uncomfortable to grow your business and you will start to see some major changes in your results.
In the next lesson, I am going to dive deeper into the psychology side and we will look at how the brain actually makes decisions. Chances are you have been speaking to the wrong part of the brain all along…
Here are some related posts from my blog that go into more details on some of these ideas:
- Improve sales conversations by learning how to facilitate
- Give your best stuff away for free
- Sales 101 for the non-salesperson
- Coffee meetings – are they helping or hurting you?