We’d all like more control in our lives. But sales doesn’t work that way. In fact, the most effective way to a sale often requires you to surrender control.
When you stop trying to control your buyer, the buyer stops resisting. And only then can you create a true, value-based relationship.
Here are five ways to get started:
1. Break your own rules
After searching for heating filters of a certain size, the homeowner found a supplier. “We’ll call you when they come in,” said the person taking the order.
“Would it be possible just to have them drop-shipped to my home?” the buyer asked.
“No,” came the reply. “We don’t do it that way.”
No doubt the company had good reasons to do things the way it did. But those reasons mattered only to the company, not the customer. As a salesperson, it’s up to you to push your organization to surrender to the customer’s rules, even when they’re inconvenient. A great salesperson would have made the drop-ship happen if it mattered to the buyer.
2. Reveal your sales strategy
Contrary to what some would have us believe, selling is not warfare, where you gain an edge by veiling your intentions and trying to ambush your opponent. There’s no reason to hide your sales strategy. Your buyer knows why you’re there!
Selling must be a mutually agreed-upon process that involves both salesperson and customer. What do we both want to accomplish? What is the best way to get there? How can we do this together? A collaborative approach creates trust and establishes credibility because the customer knows where you are going and what to expect.
3. Focus on satisfaction, not the sale
One advertising salesperson sells a customer 10,000 brochures. Another sells 1,000. Who’s more successful?
Well, if five years later, cartons of brochures are still stashed away in the warehouse, the first salesperson may have won a sale but lost a customer.
One ad account executive cautions clients to buy a limited supply initially. “Get the brochure out there,” he says, “then track changes you want to make and come back for more.” Most do come back. Again and again.
4. Let the buyer be the decider
Perhaps the most costly mistake made by salespeople is thinking for the customer. We tell ourselves we’re helping, but really we’re just trying to get the deal done.
You cannot make decisions for the buyer, so don’t even try. At every point, present options and ask the buyer to decide.
5. Listen, listen, listen
You can’t hear it too often: The most common mistake in sales, according to buyers, is poor listening.
It isn’t just a matter of not hearing what’s being said. More often, it involves ignoring the customer’s agenda in favor of your own.
A sales rep met with a prospect seeking ways to improve direct mail functions. The rep asked about typical jobs, the types of mail involved, quantities, and the personnel who would be operating the equipment. When the meeting ended, the customer felt that the rep understood the requirements.
But when the customer opened the proposal a week later, he thought the wrong document had been enclosed. The recommendations did not even remotely fit the company’s needs.
It wasn’t that the sales rep failed to hear what was said. What the rep heard didn’t fit what the rep wanted to sell. So the rep ignored it – and rung up a “no sale.”
Based on “Break the Rules Selling,” by John R. Graham. Published by Superior Books.
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