Pushy sales tactics have gone the way of the dinosaur. The internet, not a meteor, took them out. With a wealth of information at their fingertips, consumers aren’t buying scare tactics such as, “Act now! You’ll never see this deal again!” Savvy consumers can pull a smartphone from their pocket and discover that a company across town is offering an even better deal. Inflated claims about a product’s benefits are quickly deflated with a search of online reviews. Yet, the stereotype of the salesperson as someone solely interested in making a buck, regardless of what a customer actually needs, persists.
The cognitive dissonance of hard selling
You need to sell your product, but you hate to sell. Why? Marketing expert Ben Angel says you’re being selfish. Approaching sales from the “I need to hit my quota” angle ignores consumers’ needs. It’s selfish, and unless your character is okay with this, it will create anxiety every time you pitch your product. While you may present yourself as the consumer’s best hope for meeting needs, your objective is to rack up sales, helping yourself, not the client. It’s no wonder selling makes you uncomfortable; you have conflicting objectives battling it out in your head.
A better way to sell
“A better approach,” says Angel, “is the consultative way of selling.” Identify your prospect’s problem or goal, and then explain how your product provides the solution. How do you do this? Ask questions, process the answers and ask more questions. You know your product, and your customers know their businesses and their pain points. A back-and-forth discussion with your prospective customers will align both your goals.
Your role as a consultant
- Establish yourself as the expert — Developing a selfless sales technique requires first that your potential customers view you as an expert. This is where your sales approach needs a greater marketing plan. Through social media, a blog on your company website and careful attention to current customers and their reviews of your business and its products, you can position yourself as the go-to source in your industry.
- Ask questions — When a customer approaches you with a problem, dig deeper with questions such as, “How long have you had this problem,” and “What strategies have you tried in the past?” During this process, it will become evident how your product can help.
- Offer useful information — You’ve undoubtedly heard these problems before from other customers. Explain how in the past you’ve helped other businesses with similar issues. Discuss how past solutions may help with the current problem. Provide any necessary technical information.
- The solution is obvious — At this point, your customer will see that the remedy for their pain lies in your product. Congratulations! You have made a sale simply by being helpful, and by sincerely putting your customer’s needs ahead of your own.
This article was written by Gillian Burdett for Small Business Pulse