Salesman, sales calls, sales techniques. The words hold dread to so many people. “Who was that on the phone?” “Urgh… Just another Salesperson.” We have over sold every element of our existence. There is no physical thing that money cannot buy a variation of. The need to sell, gain profit, hit targets and improve stats creates an environment of stress and doubt in our own ability.
What if I could solve that problem, what if I could put the fun back into selling, what if I could change the way you sell in a way that not only gains the interest of the customer, but will also make your view of the task simpler.
The problem with sales is the frequency of which we become victims to a sale. We attempt to sell and buy “stuff” that has no real cause or positive effect in our life. Instead I invoke an age of problem solvers.
Before we look at sales, we must first take a look at the rules of the game, the foundation on which we play.
The System of Capitalism
Money is the resource we use to provide our survivability. The current monetary system we work by is Capitalism. Most people are unaware that Capitalism is more than just a system of wealth, this is its non-essential definition.
Capitalism – Non-essential Definition:
“An economic system in which the means of production and distribution are privately or corporately owned and development is proportionate to the accumulation and reinvestment of profits gained in a free market.”
Capitalism is also the philosophy of a social system based on the principle of individual rights. This refers more to a political social structure rather than a monetary system. In order for the monetary system of capitalism to function, there must first be a core social structure of capitalism. One cannot exist if the other is not present.
Philosophy is Belief
Philosophy is the belief system that governs your actions. Beliefs can be stubborn but they can also be manipulated and shifted. The philosophy of capitalism is a belief that creates a need for consistent growth. Statistics become either friend or foe in the battle of growth. Percentages, numbers and profit means more to a business than people do.
From a philosophic standpoint we can already see how this can quickly spiral out of control, becoming a system based on statistics rather than the people involved. Competition for control of imaginary markets made up of numbers on a 2D screen, becomes more relevant than the interaction between individuals that propels the social and economic structure forward. Focus on beating the competition becomes more important than supplying more effective services to the customer.
Numbers only exist for a moment, however relationships create connections. People are action takers, no action can be taking if there is not a person behind the action. Control is an illusion of belief, we control nothing. The best we can hope for is swaying the odds in our favor.
Swaying the Odds
Control is the belief that you determine an outcome. Taking control of a situation is to sway the outcome towards your needs/wants. In the monetary system of capitalism, we assume control by manipulating our customers belief.
Control – Definition:
“The power to influence or direct people’s behavior or the course of events.”
Anything based on philosophy can be manipulated. As I mentioned, philosophy is nothing more than a belief system and belief systems are constantly changing based on the most recent experiences we have had of reality.
Before we can begin to shift the belief system of the customer, we must first understand what our goals are. Our goals can vary in many ways, and this must be set before the interaction begins. If you begin without knowing what you want then how can you know what you need to do?
The aim is to create need/want in the customer. Often a salesman will sell the product to the customer. In truth it is not the product the customer wants, it is the solution to their problem they want to purchase. But what if there is no current problem in the eyes of the customer? In reality there is always an issue that needs fixing, something that must either become more efficient or more comfortable.
There is Always Something to Fix
The human condition provides us with a consistent need to improve our existence. Be happier, be healthier, be slimmer, and be prettier. Capitalism creates the same need for growth. A business will or at least should always strive to improve efficiency, limit work time per project and expand market reach.
The job of a salesman is not to sell, it is to problem solve the issues that have not yet been considered. A salesman is a problem solver and should hold such talents. The ability to spot the areas where growth can be manifested is a must have.
Creating the need/want is demonstrating an issue. To sell the solution you must prove the value the solution can provide. Creating value is done by shifting the belief system from “I do not need this.” To, “I must have this.” The need comes from the belief that the product will improve their experience of life, it will be less chaotic, more automated and more convenient to the customer. The belief must be, “my life would be better if I had this in my life.”
Close Before You Sell
As people we are naturally skeptical of salesman. They attempt to manipulate us with their charm, words and sneakiness. It is not surprising that we hold such defensive postures when we interact with men of trade. We are aware that we are a target, we know that the aim is for them to make money from us, and we know how much value we place in money. Once we view this perspective of the salesman we can see why people become, shall we say, sceptical.
The point here, is that people dislike salesmen. So stop selling. Like I said, salesmen are no longer selling, they are service providers. As soon as the words “I have a great product for you” leaves your mouth, so does the customer. People are tired of manipulated reasoning and having products shoved down their faces. So I will say it again, stop selling and start providing.
The aim is to close the sale before you have even mentioned the product. First find the issue, the reason they have for needing or wanting a product or service. Do not mention the product, keep that in your mind. Remember, you should have an idea of what you are trying to achieve before you even approach the customer. Once you have identified the issue, demonstrate a method of removing the issue. The aim here is to prove value to the solution you can provide, honest value. Use simple terminology, the person you are speaking with may not have the technological knowledge required to understand how the product works. You can however, very simply explain what it does. Finally, get them to say “Yes” to the solution, then demonstrate the product. Explain the solution and an overview how it fixes the issue.
Reversing the What, How, Why?
The most common way to sell is by going through the What, How and Why. This is a sequence most salesmen follow in order to sell their product. Most sales pitches follow this because it is simple and it is lazy. This is how a lazy salesman works.
What: This demonstrates what the product is and does.
How: The how explains how the product does what it does.
Why: The reason the product does what it does.
Once we reverse the sequence we change our aim, it will turn the pitch from one of telling the customer what they need, to one where you stimulate their needs in order to remove the issue. This is how an innovative sales pitch work.
Why: This stage is about finding the need.
How: This will tell you how they would like the problem fixed.
What: This is the product they need.
A sales pitch will often look like the following:
What: This is the brand new “Insert make and model of car”, It has “readout a mental list life of all the features from GPS to traction control”
How: Using its brand new “Insert obscure technology” it reduces the fuel consumption by “Insert interesting stat no one understands”
Why: All of this combines to give you a “Insert random appealing adjective” looking car that is gentle on the wallet
This time reverse the questions, find the need/want, stimulate it:
Why: What are you looking for in a car, what would you like from your new car that your current one cannot provide?
How: (Invite the issue with open arms and demonstrate how it could be fixed) It sounds like you need something more economical in the long run. Something that reduces your overall fuel consumption.
What: (As soon as your customer agrees with your attempt to fix the issue, you should produce the solution. At this point it is also important to confirm the information the customer has provided.) It sounds like you want something that provides “solution”. This car should be perfect for you.
Because the customer has already agreed with the solution and explained their need for it all you are required to do is to show them the product that has the solution they require.
The Philosophy of Wants and Needs
Modern society has manifested an environment where we confuse our wants to be our needs. In truth there are very few things we need. Oxygen, food, water, stable temperature and some sunlight. Of course there are a smattering of other requirements like iron, vitamins and so on, yet at the core all your requirements come from ingesting food, water and oxygen. The rest I am sorry to say is just a want, no matter how much you attempt to convince yourself that you need something, it is only ever a belief.
Consider yourself, existing in this world of capitalism. A world in which freedom is related to quantity of wealth, while your quantity of wealth is a representation of your work ethics. Work hard, get more money, become free. We propel ourselves forward though our “want” to be free, however in the sense of pure survival you do not “need” to be free.
When a person begins to understand that what they want has nothing to do with what they need, they become aware of the freeing sensation that comes with letting go of your wants and only fulfilling your needs.
In a world of industries and corporations the needs change. These organizations are as the word suggest, organized. A business is a machine, it runs in a systematic form. A product line has a beginning where there is no product, follow the system though in order and you will finish the journey with a product. Capitalism creates systematic competition, a game of efficiency and innovation.
As a sales man, your job is to solve the issue, solve the want of the customer. Understand that your customer is a person, with emotions, belief systems, needs and wants. If they are working for a bigger organization and you are selling to an organization through that person, you must remember to stimulate the needs of the person as well as fulfilling the need of the business.
Stop, Look, Listen
Information is your ally, it is however a fickle friend. Information can quickly become overwhelming and chaotic. Before you can sell anything, you must first organize your information. When I refer to information I speak of any single bit of information that you need to progress through the sale.
That is just a minute fraction of the information that needs to be considered when selling. The more you learn the more familiar you will become with the information your senses are picking up. Your mind will become more organized and quicker to respond with relevant information.
The better you become at organizing the relevant information of the sale, the more efficient you will become at providing constructive information in order close the sale.
To Know Is To Assume
One of the struggles of the human condition is the frustration of not knowing anything. There is only one truth in life, which is that you are experiencing “something”. Outside of that truth, you know absolutely nothing about what this world is. Everything we do is based on our beliefs, our beliefs give us purpose.
These beliefs are individual to everything that is conscious. This is a very important piece of information to consider when selling. A salesman who believes he knows what I want will fail, because the want that he believes I hold is only real in the mind of the salesman. If however the salesman accepts that he does not know me, and instead of telling, begins to question and learn the interest of me, my beliefs and wants will be shifted towards the salesman. This is because him asking about my wants/needs brings them to the forefront of my mind and therefore become my focus. The more I focus on my needs/wants the more I need/want them.
it is no trade secret that you must believe in what you sell. Human integrity is subconsciously stronger than human betrayal. Your empathy will often show if you are being inauthentic with your sales pitch. If your product does not interest you then how can you expect to enthusiastically sell it?
Speak the truth when you sell, the truth is positive, strong and meaningful when it is told. If you begin to oversell your product and embellish how good it is, your vocal and body language will demonstrate doubt, inconsistency and hesitation. I know which salesmen would win me over.
- Understand the belief system you exists in, as a salesman in the western world the system I work by is that of Capitalism.
- Stop selling and start fixing, you are there to provide a solution to what a person believes is a need, when actually it is a want for efficiency and comfort.
- Using the reverse “What, How, Why” method you create a scenario where the customer will say yes to the solution before they have experienced the product. This is due to you stimulating the want/need of the customer before you demonstrate the product.
- Absorb any information you can about the sale, everything from the customer, the environment and the product.
- Instill confidence in the customer that you can fix their issue.
- Understand that you cannot know anything, however the more aware you are of the process of the sale, the higher the success rate will be.
- Believe in yourself, if you cannot trust your own words then how can you expect a person to hand over their money (the resource for survivability).
Sales, just like life is a long game, learn to enjoy the game and everything else will fall into place.