Whether you’re already a sales professional, you’ve been a sales professional in the past or you’re considering a sales career, no doubt you’ve heard and talked about how difficult sales can be.
The truth is, sales can be highly lucrative so it should be difficult. However, there are a few commonly ignored fundamentals that can alleviate the feeling that you’re running into a brick wall day after day. It starts with ensuring you are interesting and relevant to your audience. (Of course, being successful at sales also requires persistence and work ethic. If you’re not ready to bust your butt, you should probably consider another line of work.)
So what do I mean by “interesting and relevant?” Too often a sales call is made without a true understanding of the product/service being introduced and how it could impact the prospective customer. While blindly dialing for dollars may have its place, calling from an educated and informed viewpoint will dramatically increase your chances of success.
Let’s break it down:
Know your product or service: I am often amazed by how little some sales professionals know about their product. Sure, they may be able to go a level deeper than the website, but why is the product interesting? How is it differentiated? Why are you excited to represent it? Specifically, how have current and past clients benefited from your product or service? If you can concisely articulate answers to these questions, you’re already a step ahead of your competition.
Do your homework (I beg you): A sales prospect worth calling is a sales prospect worth researching first. This may be the most difficult step because it requires you to devote a substantial amount of time to understanding who you’re calling. Let’s say, for instance, you’re selling a business-to-business product. Spending some time reading up on the organization’s latest news and updates before your sales call can give you a much clearer picture of what’s going on within the company, what their momentum looks like, where they may be going, and specifically, how they may be able to utilize your product. It also shows a prospective client that you take their business seriously by investing the time to do your research before calling.
Sell an experience, not just a product: Remember that nobody buys a product – ever. If you sell a product for a living and recently made a sale, you may disagree. Sure, they bought a box, widget, etc., but that isn’t why they cut the check. They bought an experience from you. Your product delivered the experience of cost savings, increased comfort, less stress and worry, increased job security, more customers, or more general happiness. Going back to doing your homework, the more you know about your market and your prospective client, the better you can become interesting by telling them a story about a relevant (and hopefully attractive) experience they can expect as a result of buying your product or service.
Be the expert: I’m the classic example of a customer who often asks for products and services that might not be the best solution for my business. The most deeply rooted relationships I have with outside partners, vendors, and service providers are with those who have true expertise in their markets. That’s because they have the confidence to say, “With all due respect, I think there is another approach that will better meet your needs.” Simply saying “yes” when you know there is a better way to approach your client’s problem is a disservice. Taking the time to consult with your client will help you disqualify a few prospects that aren’t the ideal match while converting customers into true partners.
For some, these approaches are a no-brainer. For the rest, challenge yourselves, break your routine, and take a new approach. A good prospect can easily tell when they are simply dial #83 of the day and will respects your efforts to be relevant and interesting – especially when there’s a qualified need for your product. Happy hunting.
Jason Alexander is managing partner of Sales Search Partners