If you think you’re no good at sales, put aside everything you know about it for a moment and realize that you’re mistaken. How do you make sales as efficiently as possible; what’s the difference between a brand that sells and a brand that’s sold; and what’s one of the most common mistakes made by businesses? Keep reading to find out.
Sales is seen as one of the most controversial professions in the world, thanks in large part to all the people who are doing it wrong. We want to offer our point of view – to explain the difference between different kinds of salespeople, explore the meaning of sales and discuss how to do it right and efficiently. And when we say efficiently, we aren’t just talking about conversion percentages. Ready to take notes?
Not good at sales: Is sales a congenital talent?
Let’s start with the most basic/cliché question about sales: Is talent as a salesperson built into your DNA? If you’re one of those people who mutters a few words and somehow convinces the person in front of you to whip out their credit card without thinking twice, you might say yes.
But we’d prefer to talk about another kind of salesperson – the kind that doesn’t try to sell, but tries to give value. These salespeople aren’t motivated by dreams of philanthropy, but by one simple principle: Customers who buy your product without understanding what they purchased are the worst customers you could hope for. Customers such as these will drive you nuts with irrational expectations and won’t be satisfied no matter what you do. This isn’t because they want to be a thorn in your side but because there is no boundary to their imaginations when there is no standard of expectation. In most cases, you won’t be seeing those customers again.
Why do we even need to put effort into sales?
Theoretically, you don’t have to. Many businesses, especially small ones, avoid thinking about sales so directly. When you provide true value to your customers, the word-of-mouth system works well. In this case, your sales conversations are mostly initiated by the customer and held with the person who is the business himself.
But every company eventually reaches a point at which it needs to push further growth. Without sales, it’s a bit difficult to branch out in this way, and what help will a good product or good marketing be if they don’t reach anyone?
Is sales such a bad thing?
The word sales always conjure up an image of a slick, sly fellow with gel in his hair and a James Bond briefcase in his hand full of clichés and strategies of manipulation. Unfortunately, you can’t say that the sales industry has done much to avoid or change this perception, but despite the fact that the entire industry is based on separating people from their money, for many people, your sales efforts may be the best thing that ever happened to them.
In our view, it’s not how much profit you earn that matters, it’s what value you provide in return. If you make sure to give your customers more than what they paid for in every situation, along every step without exception, you can be sure that your sales efforts have done well for them. And that’s the right state of mind to have when it comes to sales.
Everyone is selling all the time
The sentence “I’m not a salesperson, it’s not in my DNA” is fundamentally incorrect. If you think about it for a moment, you’ll realize that you sell things every day and almost all day long: when you try to get something done or express your opinion at work in political or professional arguments, or at home when you try to convince your partner that today it’s their turn to take out the dog or the trash. At this very moment, we are trying to sell you our opinions. We explain and express things in all kinds of different ways in the hope of convincing you (whether we’re right or not is irrelevant to this example, of course).
When is the other person really correct? Only when you try to sell something you aren’t connected to. That’s why one of our regular pieces of advice is to employ salespeople who are connected to the essence of the business and know how to connect others to it rather than someone who sees customers as numbers.
How to sell properly: The difference between selling and giving
A countless number of companies offer tutorials and complex processes in order to answer the first part of that sentence. A few will say it’s genetic and many more will claim to have the magic formula to teach anyone and everyone how to make sales. We say something very simple: your entire approach to sales is null and void when you stop trying to make a sale and simply try to do something good instead – to give the person in front of you something he needs, in exactly the same way you recommend a product you like in which you have no personal interest.
Your focus shouldn’t be on making a sale, but on telling people about the product or service as if you’re recommending it to someone very close to you. This is how you’ll plant the seed of desire for the product in an honest and authentic manner.
Accomplishing this also requires an investment, namely a marketing budget that creates leads that can then be converted into sales.
The difference between a brand that sells and a brand that’s sold
Your approach to sales will also greatly influence the character of your brand. While brands that sell have a mediocre-to-decent product backed up by aggressive sales efforts, brands that are sold create an exceptional customer experience and a journey that make people remember them and become part of their crowd of supporters.
But creating an exceptional product, service and customer experience is not a cheap venture. In the short term, a basic product backed up by an effort towards sales will be cheaper, hence the basic mistake of small business that chooses to focus primarily on sales to customers who are persuaded to buy without understanding the value. You may have earned a sale in the short term, but nothing more.
In the long term, this kind of customer isn’t really your customer, but just someone who paid you money. That person isn’t connected to your brand, doesn’t always understand its true value and you probably won’t see him again (the more aggressive the sales pitch the less likely they are to return). That’s one of the reasons small businesses struggle to survive after a certain period of time.