How to Not Suck at Selling

How to Not Suck at Selling

Selling isn’t a unique ‘skill’ that only certain people have access to. It’s a foundational set of skills that, if practiced, will translate to nearly every aspect of your life. From your relationships to your next job interview. There are 4 steps, I’ll walk you through each.

  1. Gathering Information
  2. Responding to the Information
  3. Delivering Information
  4. Asking for something

Gathering Information

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Information gathering is a foundational piece of your everyday life, including your sales process. Most people will, when given the opportunity, go straight to pitching what they’re selling. They’ll go into how great it is, what problems it solves, or how it’ll change your life. As humans, our brains are hardwired to skip steps and make assumptions. But we can often be wrong. So you will need to focus first on figuring out the facts and gathering information. Ask questions, discover pain points, and learn about the customer. Make sure they actually need what you’re selling and most importantly, avoid sounding like these guys…

Respond to the Information

Remember, this is step 2, and luckily it’s pretty straight forward. This is the creative part of the process that most people like to jump to. It’s ok to anticipate their pain points and problems ahead of time and prepare responses. To be effective you have to be gentle when you’re leading customers to your solution. The customer has a problem, that’s why they’ve agreed to even talk to you. Let them explain what it is, THEN prepare to solve it for them. This shifts the paradigm of the ‘sales’ process from being a salesperson talking at a potential customer to 2 professionals having a conversation about business. This shift lowers defenses and helps establish what should be the ‘meat’ of your relationship: a mutual understanding of the issues you’re trying to solve and a goal of building a path forward.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Delivering the Information

Step 3 is one of the more ambiguous pieces of the sales process and requires the most finesse to pull off well. By this point, you have gathered the information and crafted a pitch or a solution. Now you have to tell the client about it. If you’ll remember from the video above how to not sell his pen, you still want to avoid the features and the ‘what’ about the product. This is the time to focus on why they need the solution.

Storytelling is the best advice here. People relate to a story because there’s an emotional response to it. You can explain how the features you have will save time, money, and resources, but they need to buy in at an emotional level. Explaining on their time and their employees time is valuable and how being responsible with the resources will allow their business to continue the growth that their Father or Grandfather started 50 years ago. How it’s now their responsibility to ensure that they can remain competitive without sacrificing their core principles. These all talk about the same thing, saving money/time/resources. But it’s easy to get lost in numbers.

Some people love the numbers, most people don’t. Humanity is an emotional species and we respond in kind. Can most people be walked through the logical breakdown of a cost savings tool? Absolutely. But do people respond differently to a tool that can prevent them from laying off Sally who’s been with the company for 15 years by enabling her to be a more productive employee? You decide. There’s no wrong answer here.

Photo by Isaac Smith on Unsplash

Asking for Something

Flash back to highschool or college. You’re at lunch and up walks the one you’ve had a crush on comes to talk to you. You chat for a bit and things are going well. They get up to walk away…it’s now or never. You bumble about until finally “do you want to grab dinner?” makes its way out of your mouth. They say ‘yes’ and you set a date and time. That’s the ‘ask’ and it’s no different in business.

From getting the first date to your first big promotion, to your first big client. Asking is awkward and strange and ultimately it’s necessary. While I wish there was some sage advice that I could convey here about it, there really isn’t anything more to discuss. You can spend hours crafting the perfect ‘ask’ but if you’ve done everything else right you should have already set yourself up. You understand them, you’ve helped build a solution for them, you’re both on the same page for moving forward, now you just need to ask them to sign on the bottom line. Don’t overthink it, just go ask.