There are no shortage of instructional sales books. In fact, there are probably too many. The difficulty with most of the books is that they tend to teach you how to follow a process or structure that can limit your ability to think on your feet or adjust to a dynamic situation.
A little bit of structured selling isn’t a bad thing, but following steps that someone designed to sell to a certain type of buyer isn’t going to provide a perfect fit for every situation. The reality is, there are a few basic steps that you can take to move light years ahead of the rest — key word being “basic” — that have little to do with the product or service that you’re selling. In fact, they have nothing to do with the product or service you’re selling, but instead have everything to do with you.
Selling has very little to do with what you sell and everything to do with how you sell, not the product, but yourself. People buy most products in a business setting because they like the person they’re buying from, not necessarily because they have the best product or value proposition.
I’m not suggesting that you can have the worst product in your market and easily dominate with your sales genius, although it does happen. Your products should at least be competitive. If they’re not, you need to figure out how to improve them or start asking yourself some serious questions — i.e. why did I choose to sell this terrible product?
Stare into their souls. We all know that you only get one opportunity to make a first impression — so I’ll skip the boring motivational speech. It’s how you take advantage of the opportunity that will start you down the path of separating yourself from all the others.
Your first interaction with the person to whom you intend to sell starts at first sight, but you can’t just make eye contact, you must stare into their soul as if they are the most important person you’ve ever met. When you see them, lock into their eyes and do not look away. They may look away and that’s OK, but you shouldn’t even blink if you can help it. You must maintain this eye contact in all of your dealings with them.
This may take some practice on your end but it does a couple of important things. It exudes confidence and tells them that they’re important to you — because you’re not looking at anyone or anything else.
Genuinely smile. This is one of the most simple but underused things you can do in sales. As soon as you see the person, lock in with eye contact and smile. Don’t smile like it’s your birthday and you finally got that Lego spaceship you’ve always wanted, but like you’re genuinely interested in the person you’re meeting.
It’s important to note that you can’t fake genuine, the person will always pick it up and you’ll burn the chance at a strong impression. You must actually be interested in and happy about meeting them.
Smiling makes you happy and it makes those around you happy, which comes in handy when you’re starting a new sales relationship. People that have a hard day in the office will take refuge in your happiness.
Shut up and listen. There is nothing more valuable in a sales setting, or really any setting, than listening. There’s nothing more harmful than talking. Ask them a question that requires more than a yes or no answer and let them talk. While they answer your question, look them dead in the eye like they are giving you directions to their grandfather’s lost treasure. Then ask basic follow-up questions that will keep them talking: “Really?” “How’d that happen?” “Wow!”
This may seem ridiculous, but the reality is people like to hear their own voices. It gives them pleasure and the fact that you’re interested in hearing it too, not just talking about yourself, will make them like you.
Sales isn’t easy and it certainly isn’t for the faint of heart. You have to be prepared to get a “no” an awful lot to get a “yes.” However, if you sell yourself properly by creating an incredible first impression and take the time to build a real relationship with your potential customer, you’ll close more sales than you’d ever imagined.