Ever since I can remember, I have always perceived salesmen as people that are really slick talkers and are good at getting what they want at the expense of selling you something you don’t need. I have always made it my goal to never be “tricked” into buying something that a salesman is selling. I know that there are good people out there that are salesmen (my brother-in-law is one of them). But, why is it that most of us feel like we are being duped by smooth-talking salesmen anytime they open their mouth?
As some of you (whoever “you” are) know, I am preparing my company to be less dependent on me. Particularly, trying to empower other people to bring in more sales so it is not completely dependent on me. This is because I will not be in the office starting in August (But, that is a story for another time). Consequently, the topic of sales — salesmen, sales, and the sales process — has led to intense discussion at our office.
Today I had the pleasure of sitting down with Scott Olsen from the Olsen Group, a sales training and business consulting company. It was such a refreshing conversation to hear him speak so clearly about the sales process and have it described in a way that I can actually get excited about. After my conversation with Scott, I took away a few points I would like to share:
Define what the sales process means to your company.
Just because Hollywood likes portraying salesmen in a negative light doesn’t mean that you can’t define the sales process in a better way in your own company.
You are a problem solver first.
A good salesmen is always focused on solving the problems that the potential client is faced with. Once you come up with the solution, all you have to do is put a fair price on the value of that solution. This is something that has resonated very strongly with me ever since I started my business back in 2013. I never wanted to be portrayed as the annoying salesperson that was bugging a person and trying to convince him/her to purchase something that was not needed.
Salesmen don’t have to be a jack of all trades.
There are many aspects to the sales process. Once you define what that sales process is for your business, it is important to realize that you can have your actual salesmen only do the part that they enjoy. For example, if you have a stellar salesmen that doesn’t like cold calling companies, then it is perfectly acceptable to hire someone (and pay them by the hour) to strategically cold call businesses in the area and set up the sales meetings for the salesmen.
Seek first to understand.
People will choose to do business with the people and companies that understand them the best. Sales are more about listening than talking.
Strive to have the best sales experience for your potential customers of any other company in your industry.
The most stereotypical bad sales experience that people have is buying a car. However, everyone has been in a sales pitch or a sales call that left a bad taste in their mouth. Actually selling a product or service to someone shouldn’t dictate whether or not that encounter was a win or a loss. It is possible to provide your clients with a sales experience that is enjoyable even when they choose not to buy from you.
Hands down, referrals are the best way to acquire new clients. But it is foolish to think that you can’t have a big impact on increasing the number of referrals that you get. You have to put systems in place that encourage people to talk about your business and their experience with your business with their friends. Put follow-ups and check-ins in place to foster those referrals.
The best decision for your client might be to not work with you.
This is an important thing for all of your salesmen to recognize and acknowledge from the very beginning. It is even a good thing to tell your clients. BUT you must also ask them for the opportunity to at least discover that truth together.
Don’t get frustrated when customers ask you questions.
The question we get asked the most when talking to new clients is: “How much does a video cost?” You should never scold a potential client for asking any question. It is important to understand that the reason they ask questions like this is that they are trying to wrap their arms around a topic that is foreign to them. However, it is also important that you don’t do them a disservice by giving them a response that they may be completely inaccurate, because you don’t understand them well enough. When someone asks you a question like the dreaded price question, follow it up with “I’m so glad you asked! That’s a great question. Would you mind if I asked you a couple questions to allow me to give you a more accurate answer?”
As always, feel free to reach out to me and send me a message. I love talking about business!