Selling is a natural thing, we do it all the time (“You should try this restaurant”, “You have to see this movie”, etc…); yet when we bring it into the realm of business something changes. Obviously having a pay-cheque at stake creates a different perspective (if you don’t buy my movie recommendation there is no effect on my life), but does selling have to be tense? Selling your product or service may never be as easy as recommending a restaurant, it can be easier than you’re currently doing it.
How you sell, like most things, starts with your mindset. If your point-of-view is one of scarcity, if you have the old-school “always be closing” mentality, then your interactions will reflect that. If, however, you look at selling as a discovery process, as a way to determine the compatibility between two parties, this will set you on a different course.
Let’s use my restaurant analogy for a moment. If you just went to a great steakhouse do you call your friend who is a vegetarian and insist they try it? Obviously not, but why is that? You don’t recommend it because you know it’s not the right fit for them. How do you know that? Because they’re your friend, and you know their likes and dislikes, because you know what will make them happy. The above-mentioned discovery process has happened over time in this case, and in a business environment you don’t have that kind of time, but that doesn’t mean you can’t look at it similarly. Your job as a salesperson is to determine what’s right for the customer, what fits their needs and goals, and what will improve their lives. When you genuinely (not as a tactic, but as a true belief) look at it from that point-of-view much of the tension dissipates and selling becomes a more natural process.
Nobody likes to be sold, nobody likes to be “closed”; yet many salespeople believe this to be their primary objective. Is there anything natural about trying to do something to people that they don’t want done to them?!? People do however, like it when someone tries to get to know them and understand them. People are generally happy to spend their money on things that make their lives better. People like to be treated with honesty and respect. Most importantly, people care about how something affects their lives, not about your sales quota.
All of this is obvious, but what’s obvious is often not what’s done. Many salespeople pay lip service to this concept; they ask discovery-type questions, they establish rapport, they act like consultants (“act” being the key word). They do this, however, as a technique; as a “new-school” way of selling, rather than because they truly believe.
Selling can be a much more natural thing, if you can get yourself to see it from the right point-of-view. If not, you’re going to spend your time trying to “close” people. I am certain you don’t like to be “closed”, so ask yourself why you would do that to someone else. If you can’t come up with a reason then maybe you’re on your way to a new view of selling.