By Kevin Elliott
Let’s Talk About the “S” Word
I LOVE selling.
Sales gets a bum wrap, in my opinion. That’s because so many people do it badly. It’s why “salesperson” is a dirty word to most folks. It means sleazy, manipulative, tricky.
It doesn’t have to be that way. I’ve closed hundreds of deals in my 20-year career and pride myself on keeping customers for the long term. That doesn’t happen if you trick people.
In my experience, the difference between whether you and your prospect have a positive buying experience comes down to one issue – who is in control.
Let the Prospect Control the Sales Process
You meet a lead and off you go. Jam your entire presentation down their throat because you might not get another chance. Don’t stop talking until they’ve heard every possible reason why they should hire you, why your competitors suck, and why they should cut you a check right now. Throw in your elevator speech for good measure.
This is where the “pushy salesman” cliché came from. What a shame. The reason this doesn’t work (and makes you feel crappy) is because it goes against human nature and the way people prefer to make buying decisions.
For seller and customer to be happy, the customer must have control of every step of the sales process. No pushing from you. Luckily, this process is not too hard to understand.
Ever Heard of the Sales Funnel?
Here is a simple but powerful diagram to understand how humans make buying decisions. All buying decisions. It’s called the sales funnel. Learn it, love it, live it, because it literally makes the difference whether you close deals or not.
I won’t do an in-depth discussion of the sales funnel here (CrazyEgg has a good one), but there are two key truths to using it that will help you close more deals.
1. Your prospect must go through every one of the steps.
This is an iron rule. No skipping. This is the fundamental misunderstanding of pushy sales. You want to meet a person and make a big sale five seconds later. Straight from Awareness to Action. That is simply not how it works. Sales take time to go through the process – every step. Think of it like dating, not hooking up on Tinder.
2. Your prospect must decide when it is time to move from one step to another.
If you try to push your prospect to the next step before they are ready, they will feel “pushed” and pull back. If you keep pushing, you are being a jerk and just the type of sleazy salesperson that gives sales a bad name.
Your prospects should always control when they receive more information from you and how much. And they should be completely free to walk away at any time, without a guilt trip from you.
Let them decide the speed at which you move down the funnel. Do this and close more.
But Don’t I Have to Be Aggressive to Close?
No. This is one of the biggest myths in sales. Your product or service either matches what a customer wants or not (see Hubspot’s explanation of buyer personas). Your job is to offer your prospects the information they need when they need it. Good sales is helping, not pushing.
And here’s the best part. Once your prospects realize you won’t push, cajole, or guilt, they are much more likely to continue down the sales funnel to closing. They will feel in control of the buying process, so they have more confidence that you have their best interests at heart. Because you will.
High Pressure Sales is Bullying
Closing a deal can and should be an exciting time for you and your new customer, not a stress-inducing hassle. There should be no pressure on either of you. Buying – and selling – should be fun.
Give up control of the sales process and you will close more deals, guaranteed. And, because your customers have a positive buying experience, they’ll come to you over and over again. And tell their friends.
Bonus: You’ll sleep better at night.
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