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101 Ways to Sell More of Anything to Anyone
Sales Tips for Individuals, Business Owners and Sales Professionals
By Andrew Griffiths
Allen & UnwinCopyright © 2009 Andrew Griffiths
All rights reserved.
It's all about attitude
Great sales people all have a great attitude. If you really want to learn how to sell more of anything, you may need to make a few changes to your attitude. Perhaps you are on track and just a small tweak here or there is necessary. Or perhaps a complete attitude overhaul is required. Wherever you are in the scheme of things, please believe me when I say your sales success or failure is 90 per cent dependent on what happens in your head long before you get anywhere near a customer.
Read this section with an open mind and be prepared to do what it takes to develop the attitude that will help you become the sales person you truly want to be.
# 1 Decide what type of sales person you want to be
# 2 A good sale is more important than just a sale
# 3 The best sales people are patient, persistent and polite
# 4 Believe in your product — it shows if you don't
# 5 Commit to constant and neverending self-improvement
# 6 You have the sale already — it's up to you not to lose it
# 7 Honesty, integrity and passion — the three pillars of successful selling
# 8 Never judge a man by his clothes
# 9 Become a listening guru
# 10 What is your attitude to money?
# 1 Decide what type of sales person you want to be
We all know the corny clichés about sales people being smooth, silver-tongued, slick and basically dishonest sharks. Thank goodness the days of the smooth-talkin' shark are long gone, or at least well on the way out — no one wants this type of person selling to them, and who wants to be a pushy sales thug anyway?
It's up to you to decide what kind of sales person you want to be. You need to make a conscious decision, up front. You get to set the rules. For me, I realised long ago that I had a number of goals and objectives when it came to my sales career. They are:
1. I can only sell something that is high quality and that I have confidence in.
2. I will always be 100 per cent honest in my dealings.
3. I will do everything in my power to ensure that my reputation is continually built on positive action.
4. I will only sell for ethical and honest companies.
5. I have to be passionate about what I sell.
6. I want to be proud of every sales interaction that I have.
7. I will be one of the best sales people in whatever industry I am in.
8. I will constantly learn how to be a better sales person.
9. I will be creative and innovative, learning from those around me but never getting stuck in the 'that's the way we always did it' head space.
10. I will always exceed my sales budgets.
I strongly advise that you decide what kind of sales person you intend to be. Or if you have been selling for a long time, decide what are your 'rules' when it comes to selling. Defining these helps to give perspective to what you do, regardless of whether you work in sales or own your own business.
#2 A good sale is more important than just a sale
There used to be a consensus among sales people that a sales person should do whatever it took to get a sale. I don't necessarily agree with this. I think it is more important to make a good sale rather than just make a sale. So what is a good sale?
For me a good sale is one where everyone wins. The customer's needs and expectations are met and ideally exceeded. They get real value for money, the product they purchase will meet their needs, and the interaction is friendly and enjoyable. The business sells a product, makes a profit on it and creates another happy customer who will tell their friends and colleagues about the business. The sales person notches up another sale, earns their money and perhaps a commission, learns some more about selling and acts with honesty and integrity.
These types of sales will pay big dividends in the future. Long-term relationships are built on these win/win encounters. Unfortunately, not all people think this way. The instigator of a problematic relationship can be the sales person, the business owner or the customer. The sales person can bend the truth to get the sale. They can be pushy and act without integrity and make promises that will never be delivered on. The business can sell inferior quality products or services, at inflated prices, with lots of small print designed to trick the customer. And speaking of customers, many of them can be really difficult to deal with. They can be ridiculously demanding and rude, or have no understanding of commercial reality so they screw you until you can't possibly make any money.
Generally it only takes one of the three players to cause problems for the whole deal to fall over, or for a clean sale to become a dirty one. We all play a role in this process. I suggest that you do your part to make a 'good' sale rather than just making a sale.
#3 The best sales people are patient, persistent and polite
Being a sales person for most of my life, albeit in various shapes and guises, I have no doubt that the best sales people in the world are patient, persistent and polite. Don't be fooled into thinking that people who have the gift of the gab make the greatest of sales people — they don't.
Patience is a wonderful quality in a sales person, particularly today. There is so much information being dispersed today that it is really hard for customers to sort it all out and to make an informed decision. That is why many of them like to collect information and then process it. No amount of pushy selling is going to convince them otherwise.
I have spent years working on potential clients, hoping to win them over. I have been very patient and it has generally paid off, regardless of which industry I was in. I made a point of letting them know I was there, that I was patient and that I would be working to get their business over the next few years. I would make sales calls to these businesses year in, year out, until finally they would give me a go. From there I knew that, as long as my company delivered, this account could grow and grow dramatically.
Most sales people take a short-term approach to selling — get the sale now and move on. This is a short-sighted approach. Those who take their time will succeed — it is only a matter of time.
Next comes persistence. It is important not to become a stalker, but to let the customer know you are not going to give up easily. I have a very close friend who has been selling advertising in publications for years. Tom is an old-school salesman and his results speak for themselves. He wrote the book about persistence and I am constantly amazed at how this pays off for him. If he says he will get a new business to advertise he will. It might take a year or two, but he always gets his customer. How does he do it?
Well, this is where the third part of this tip comes into play: he is extremely polite. He is also a mad Irishman, which of course does help as he has a great sense of humour, but no matter how irritated, fed up, mucked around, lied to or abused he gets, he never, ever gets grumpy or loses his cool when he is with the customer.
Over the years I have had sales people swear at me, throw things, smash the desk, kick tables on the way out, slam doors, abuse my staff and even literally beg for the sale, simply because I have said no to them. Well, doing all of that certainly won't encourage me to do business with them. Never, ever lose your cool with your customers no matter how much work you have put into the sale. If you leave the door open the potential customer is just that — still a potential customer. If you slam it shut, you have to wait for people to leave the company before you can go back to try to sell them anything.
Be patient, be persistent and be polite — always.
#4 Believe in your product — it shows if you don't
I find it impossible to sell anything I don't believe in. This lack of belief in a product can be about it not doing what it promises, the quality of the product, the value for money, and so on. Any good sales person needs to believe absolutely in the product they are selling.
If I am interviewing someone for a sales position and most of their questions relate to the product being sold, the quality control processes, the after-sale service offered by the business, et cetera, I know they are professionals and that they know what they are doing. If all they want to know is when they will get paid, I generally get a different picture of their ability and their integrity in the sales world.
If you have doubts about a product or service that you are charged with selling you need to resolve them, and quickly. If you can't resolve your doubts, perhaps you should be looking for something new to sell. That is certainly what I would do. Customers can tell if you are trying to sell them something that you don't believe in. If you own your own business and your sales people lose faith in your business's products, sales will fall and a fast downward spiral could occur.
One of the best ways to build confidence in your products is to talk to happy customers. I cover following up on a sale later in the book, but if you spend some time talking to existing customers about what they like (and don't like) about what you sell, your confidence will grow. And if there is more bad news than good news, you certainly want to know about it so that you can do something about it pronto.
#5 Commit to constant and neverending self-improvement
This book covers the real fundamentals of selling, the key skills that used to be considered simple and elementary. However, my ideas are based on my experiences in the world of sales. I have never done a single sales course or any external training in the area of sales. What I have done is read hundreds of books written by the leading sales and communication people in the world (sadly many have passed away). I pored over these books, applied the principles they shared and pondered the questions they raised. I read books on all types of selling, sometimes industry specific, sometimes nationality specific, mainstream and niche.
As I read and learnt more I set about putting this newfound knowledge into practice. Every day I learnt more and applied more. My selling skills got better and better and my confidence grew. I came to believe that I could sell anything and be very successful at it, regardless of what it was, as long as it fitted into my personal sales rules as outlined in tip #1.
There is a massive amount of information available on selling. Immerse yourself in it once you have the fundamentals well and truly mastered. Do some training seminars, push yourself and learn from every interaction. Take the time to review each and every sale — what did you do well? What could you have done better? But most importantly of all, commit to constantly becoming the very best sales person you can.
#6 You have the sale already — it's up to you not to lose it
Selling is a mind game. Why do people sell record amounts one week and nothing the week after? From my experience it generally has very little to do with the product being sold and everything to do with the level of confidence and the attitude of the sales person.
I think that all too often the sale is within our grasp and we simply mess it up. People are busy and while at times they may simply be doing some price checking or preliminary research, more often than not they want to buy the item they are talking to you about.
I have always approached a presentation with a very clear belief. I believe that the sale is already mine so long as I carry out the right steps and follow through appropriately. I have enough confidence in my products and services, I know they are very high quality, so why wouldn't the customer want to buy from me? I actually visualise the contract being signed or the cheque being handed over. I spend a few moments clearing my mind, thinking about the presentation or the meeting and visualising how I want it to go. More often than not, that is the way it goes.
Now this may sound a little far-fetched but it has certainly worked for me. If I go into a presentation trying to convince the person to buy something from me, I know I can start to sound almost desperate. No one buys a thing from someone who is desperate. But when I go into a presentation organised, calm and confident and with the internal belief that I already have this sale, I simply need to do the right things not to lose it.
Are you going into your sales environment trying too hard to get the sale? Remember, you already have it — the trick is not to lose it. Believe me, if you can change your attitude, you will definitely see an increase in sales.
#7 Honesty, integrity and passion — the three pillars of successful selling
If you can't sell a product openly and honestly then you shouldn't be selling it. Being honest doesn't just mean telling a customer the facts about a product or service and ensuring that all of the relevant and important information is communicated effectively. It also means being honest about when things will be done, when the product will arrive, what to do if there is a problem and so on.
Unfortunately I seem to encounter a lot of dishonesty in sales, not in what people are saying but in what they don't say. Most misleading information is in the small print and it's not until we want to get out of a contract, or return a product, that we find out exactly how misled we have been. It is easy to say buyer beware, but I think that is just a cop-out. I believe the authorities in every country should tighten up on the small print that we all have to deal with and try to decipher.
If your product or service has weaknesses when compared with your competition, your job is to figure out how to make the most of its virtues without tampering with the truth. Honest sales people build long and prosperous careers. I know many; they are impressive people who enter every sale with the intention of building a relationship with the client that will last for decades. As a result, they sell a lot.
A great sales person has absolute integrity. They know what is right and what is wrong — there are no shades of grey. Anyone who sells anything will at some stage of their career have their integrity tested. It may be by a boss, it may be by a supplier, it may be as part of your own business. You are tested at that moment when you know that what you are contemplating or being asked to contemplate is wrong. Which way will you go? Will you leave a job if your boss asks you to do something that you believe is wrong? Will you tell the customer about the flaw in the discounted product that they are buying?
My integrity, and subsequently my reputation, mean more to me than just about anything else in my professional world. There have certainly been times when my integrity has been tested. Had I gone down that path I could have made a lot more money, but I wouldn't have been able to walk down the street and hold my head high, or sleep at night. If you find yourself in a position where your integrity is being challenged, alter that position as fast as you can. Your job can change, the products or services that you sell can change, but your reputation is yours for life and you decide what that reputation is going to be.
Last but not least is passion. Personally I don't know how anyone can sell anything they are not passionate about. I know that some things are more exciting to sell than others, but luckily we are all different. There are people who are incredibly passionate about selling paper clips. There are people who leap out of bed in the morning to sell toilets. They are lucky; they have found their passion in the world of sales.
It is really hard to sell anything that you don't either believe in or feel passionate about. The wonderful thing about sales is that you can apply the fundamental skills to virtually any product or service. Become an exceptional sales person and you will never be without a job. But having a job and loving your job are two different things. Perhaps when people say they aren't into selling, they just haven't found the right product or service.
Passion is contagious. People love dealing with people who are passionate. We like getting excited about making a purchase and when you encounter a sales person who clearly loves what they are selling it is very hard to say no to them. Added to this is the fact that passionate people go out of their way to find out as much as they can about the product they are selling. They don't find this a chore as they have a hunger to learn, which means that doing research never feels like work.
Honesty, integrity and passion together create a truly exceptional sales person, whether they work in their own business or for someone else. If you want to be the best sales person you possibly can, then be honest and passionate and show integrity and I guarantee the results will be astounding.
Excerpted from 101 Ways to Sell More of Anything to Anyone by Andrew Griffiths. Copyright © 2009 Andrew Griffiths. Excerpted by permission of Allen & Unwin.
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