"Selling" is a four-letter word for a lot of people, including so-called salespeople.
I say "so-called salespeople" because so many perform extreme mental gymnastics to avoid having the word "sales" on their business card or email signature.
That's why you see...
- Account Executive
- Chief Evangelist
- Business Development
- Cast Member
- Customer Guide
- Customer Educator
- Account Manager
- Client Advisor
Give. Me. A. Break.
If you can't sell yourself on what the heck it is you do, how can you sell anyone else? (Oh, that's right. You're not selling enough, are you? Relax. The Sales Whisperer® is here for you.)
What You're Not Selling
Let's get one thing straight before we go on.
To know what you're selling, sometimes it helps to know what you're NOT selling.
- Features and benefits. Yeah, yeah. Helping your prospect understand the benefits of your offering is helpful, but you're spending too much time stroking your own ego by trying to impress your prospect by rattling off all the features you've memorized. This ends up overwhelming, confusing, boring, delaying, and sabotaging your sale.
- Speed and feeds. This is closely related to features and benefits, with an emphasis on what's "new & improved" with your offering. The cause—your own insecurity—and the result—a confused, bored prospect who doesn't buy—are the same.
- Price. Unless you're Walmart, you're not selling on price, so stop focusing on it. Rarely is the lowest price what your best customers are looking for.
- Futures. Unless you work in the world of commodities, you're not selling futures, and unless you work for AAA, you're not selling roadmaps. Sell what you have now. Sell what you can deliver today. Sell how your customer's life will improve tonight by going with you.
- Information. Thanks to that $1,200 cat-video-watching device in the hands of each and every one of your prospects, information is abundant, as is the ability to access it. No longer are salespeople the keepers of the knowledge. Heck, half the time your motivated prospects will know more about the gizmos you're selling than you do.
- Presentations & Demos. People with money can give the okay to buy a million-dollar offering in five minutes if they are convinced that what you offer scratches their itch. Those who can only say "no" want to sit through a 45-minute presentation or a two-hour demo. Those who can say "yes" have better things to do with their time...and brains.
What You Are Selling
If that's how you are trying to hit your sales goals, I wish you luck. It's probably been a long, hard, lonely road.
But it doesn't have to be.
Once you understand what it is you're really selling, selling will become more enjoyable for you and your prospects, which will make it more profitable for both of you, which creates a feedback loop.
It's the gift that keeps on giving.
I outline it in The New ABCDEs of Selling.
But for now, let's focus on what it is you're really selling by turning back the clock and recalling what good ol' Zig Ziglar taught us about selling.
Selling is the transference of a feeling, and that feeling is confidence."
Because your seven local, 37 regional, 147 state, 4,097 national, and 57,497 competitors are always leapfrogging you with better specs by the hour, you can't be confident you have the best speeds and feeds.
And because there's always someone willing to do it for less, you can't be confident you have the lowest prices.
And because you're not sure your R&D folks will deliver on their roadmap, you're not confident in what you'll release in the future and when.
And because you know your prospects hate sitting through presentations, you're not confident in your slide deck.
And because you know there's a bug or two in your offering, you're not confident in your demo.
Add up all of that lack of confidence and what do you get? An empty pipeline.
To make any sale, you must make every sale.
And to make every sale, you must start with the first and most important sale: YOU!
If you're not confident in what you offer and how you offer it, it will show.
It's why your prospects say things like,
- "Thank you so much. That was a great presentation."
- "Can you send us some information?"
- "We're going to take this under advisement."
- "Wow. You really know your stuff. That was so informative."
The reason you're not confident that what you're selling the prospect in front of you is because you don't know their pain.
You have not listened to understand because you haven't asked any questions because you were too caught up in your own issues and head trash.
Sidebar: Check out The New ABCs of Selling to learn why you, your dad, and your grandad have struggled in sales with the old "Always Be Closing" mantra of selling.
I don't care if you're selling a coffee mug with the prospect's dad's face on it at the kiosk in the mall or a $1.25 million computer upgrade or a $1 billion aircraft contract.
The buyer needs to know that what they are buying will scratch their itch.
The only way you know where they itch is by asking great questions.
You ask great questions by having empathy for your prospects.
You ask great questions by not assuming anything.
You ask great questions by being curious. (That's another ABC of Selling I cover.)
When your prospect feels you listening, they'll relax, let down their guard, open up, and speak truthfully because they'll feel safe.
When that happens, you can make a confident recommendation to them on how you can help scratch their itch.
When that happens, they'll believe you because they'll trust you.
When that happens, you make the sale.
When that happens, your prospect has their itch scratched, and you live to sell and grow and serve another day.
If you need more help growing your sales, consider the following resources:
Market like you mean it.
Now go sell something.