Sales basics

I’ve been sharing a series of posts on LinkedIn about what sales is, for salespeople and non-salespeople alike. I often think back to a conversation I had with my grandfather when I landed my first sales job.

You’ll do really well at selling – you talk so much!

He meant it nicely (I hope!) but as I got to know what it really means to be a sales professional, I realised how far from reality this was.

So here’s my little summary of what selling is and what it isn’t. I hope you take something away from this to improve your own client interractions…

Sales secrets

As you work to understand what salespeople do, it’s important to remember that you’re not a “sales clone”, but an individual with your own personality, communication style, expertise and approach. Your goal is to incorporate established sales best practice into your own style so that you come across as genuine, and as a natural, rather than a forced, salesperson.

The following principles should guide you regardless of your personal factors, as you develop your commercial skills.

Principle 1: It’s all about the customer
Too many sellers focus on themselves and on what they want to get as an outcome from the sale, but the reality is that customers don’t care about salespeople – they care about themselves. To properly engage as a salesperson, it’s vital that you focus on the customer and their world, rather than on yourself.

Principle 2: Customers buy change
Customers don’t buy products or services, but the change that those solutions bring. Think about buying a new, faster computer. You’re not buying a fast computer – you’re buying the ability to work more effectively and with fewer delays because of your slow hardware. Great salespeople focus not on their solution, but on the change those solutions bring to their customers.

Principle 3: Customers want to buy
No, this isn’t an arrogant salesperson’s mantra – it’s true. If you’re in a sales cycle with a customer, then most likely that customer wants to buy from you. But only if you can get your solution and offer absolutely right for the customer. Approaching a sale with the mindset at the customer doesn’t want to make a purchase is both not correct and not helpful. Customers don’t speak to salespeople for fun – if they’re speaking with you, then there is most likely a sale to be made.

It’s important, as you create your own sales identity, that you avoid some of the pitfalls which “bad sellers” slip into. Here’s how not to sell…

Pitfall 1: Becoming a tell-seller
These people spend their time telling their prospects about what they have and how great it us, but forget to take the time to learn about their customers first. They talk a lot and don’t listen to the customer.

Pitfall 2: Product sellers
These people focus too much on the features of their product and forget to communicate the benefits the product can bring. It’s particularly a problem for technical products, where sellers often have great knowledge of how their solution works – they get sucked into the technical side and fail to communicate why the customer should buy.

Pitfall 3: Manipulative sellers
These people sell through creating the fear of a worst-case scenario in the customer. Whilst many people use this as an effective way of winning business, it doesn’t foster trust between seller and customer, and can lead to “buyer’s remorse” in the customers, where they reflect on the sale and realise they were pressured into buying before they were ready.