How do you feel about selling? Ouch!! Do you want to stop reading now?
Many of you reading this will probably admit (if only to yourself) that you do not enjoy it. You probably wonder why you have to do it – it’s not what you trained for or why you started out on your career. This article may not achieve a 180° shift in your thinking and a radical change in your behaviour; it will show you how a few simple shifts in your own mindset can empower you to be more successful in generating business. As you become more successful, you will be more confident and find yourself doing even more.
Why is it so many people in many countries have a problem with the whole idea of “selling” or being thought of as a salesperson? After all, without revenue coming through your business, how will you survive? How do you generate that revenue – and grow it? Just sitting back and hoping to do it from a historical customer base, word of mouth or a few adverts is not exactly putting you in control!!
Professional services have to face up to this challenge if they are to continue to survive, let alone grow. As the successful ones (in financial and growth terms at least) continue to attract new clients and grow, those who are just operating passively or reactively are at risk.
Let us start by considering why you feel less than enthusiastic about selling. In my country, the UK, our media certainly do not help. It seems that whenever we see anything in the media it is about less than scrupulous tactics from sales people, conning or fleecing their vulnerable customers. This is totally unfair. If this was the way the majority of organisations worked none would make any sales – and where would we be? The stereotype does not cover the many sellers who help people identify specific issues and show them a solution to these which will enhance their businesses or their lives.
How many of you feel that selling is about pushing someone to do something they do not want to? Hardly surprising you do not want to be seen as doing this! If you imagine a diagram of a series of concentric circles, it can help you to understand what is happening now – and what you can do to shift your mindset. From the inside, imagine the circles being labelled as:
If you had some sales training and acquired new skills (capabilities), you could apply these with different behaviours. However, if you still have a “non-sales” attitude and do not see your role as being involved with selling (identity) you will struggle to apply them. Taking a few minutes to reflect on what your “inner voice” says to you about selling. How many messages are limiting or negative? “I can’t……”, “People will think…. ”? Also, what are your personal values? What are the things which are important to you? Is there anything to do with selling which conflicts with these?
If you want to become more positive, and effective, about selling you will have more success if you make changes nearer to the core. They will ripple out and affect the outer circles much more easily than starting the change on the outer levels. To do this, involves shifting your mindset.
Why should you do this? You may want to think about what you can achieve personally or for your organisation if you become more successful as a business generator. What difference might it make if this happens? Alternatively, what might be the risk if you do not shift and become more proactive as a business generator? No organisations can stand still in their markets these days.
What do you think the words “to sell” mean? A dictionary definition will tell you that it is: “to exchange goods or services for money or kind; to convince of value. ” Concentrate on the latter part of this – what does that mean to you? I wonder what “value” is for you when choosing a new car, or a holiday, or an evening out? Would it be the same for your friends? In this lies one of the aspects of professional selling which can give you both fun and satisfaction – finding out an individual’s idea of value in the context. When you have done this you can apply the principles of “salesmanship”, which part of the dictionary definition says is: “persuading purchasers to buy. ” Nothing here about pushing or forcing people into decisions! Can you think of any occasions when you have felt you were sold something? How did you feel about it after the event? (If you cannot, what do you think you would feel?) On the other hand, have you had a time when you think you decided to buy something? How did you feel after this? Can you notice any difference?
Reframe the idea of selling in your own mind to:
- find out what your prospect would think is value (or what their needs and wants are)
- show how you can satisfy these
- when they believe you can, they will want to buy!
It is not about selling – you are a provider of value! To achieve this you just have to talk to people, ask them to explain what they want and need – and listen. Check back to make sure you understand – and then let them know how you can supply that service or solution. It is not some black art! Yes, you can go and learn one of a number of structured sales approaches. . These days, more and more organisations, not just professional services, are taking a “consultative selling” approach which can be a softer style – though still allows you to ask for commitment. However, that will not work unless you change some of those items in the inner circles in the diagram
You can achieve your mind shift with a few simple steps, whether because you want to be more successful or to avoid problems from not getting more sales.
- Look inside yourself and ask what is stopping you. If you think what you are providing is worthwhile and of value to your clients or customers, why not give more people to chance to use it? You are not being a seller – you are helping them to buy!
- Pay attention to what you are saying to yourself! Beware the “can’ts”, “shouldn’ts” etc and start saying “I can…”, “I will…. ”, “It’s OK to…. ”, “Im able to…. ”, “I’m good at…. . ”.
- Start with the easy wins – look for opportunities to get more business from existing clients by getting them to consider other services or products that they do not currently buy from you.
- Enjoy helping clients and customers resolve their problems or improve their business through what you can offer them!
As you shift those inner circle aspects of your sense of identity, move your focus on to positive values and empowering beliefs, your attitude will change. Allow it to start thinking about being a business grower, generator, discoverer or nurturer if it seems better than selling! Once your attitude is positive you will find that you can use the appropriate skills and behaviours – generating more business and feeling good about it! If you want to develop your skills, you may feel more comfortable looking at what is involved in “relationship selling” or “consultative selling”, which will fit with your (new) values and beliefs. You do not have to be a social outcast to be a business getter or a seller. It is something to be proud of when done in the right way as all parties benefit.
Graham Yemm has over 20 experience as a consultant. He runs a UK based consultancy, Solutions 4 Training Ltd and works both in the UK and internationally with organisations in a variety of industry sectors. He works with organisations and individuals to help them with setting sales strategies, developing their sales processes and training them with the relevant sales skills. He can be contacted at Solutions 4 Training or +44 1483 480656