“Everyone lives by selling something”
– Robert Louis Stevenson
Sales- What comes up for you when I mention the word? Let me guess: Pushy, aggressive, annoying (ouch!), dishonest? If either of these ring a bell, you are not alone. Over 95% of consumers worldwide have this perception about sales. Think of sales, and you think of a person persuading, no, coercing you to make the purchase. Regardless of what you want, it seems only one person’s interest matters- theirs. In essence, sales comes up for many as a dirty word.
While sales is perceived as a dirty word, the reality is completely opposite. Everything that we see around us is sales in some form. So many brands selling us something or the other- iPhones, trendy gadgets, clothes that make us look good. And we buy those. It even happens on a personal level. For example, teenagers convincing their parents for an increase in their allowance, people appearing for job interviews, online dating! It ultimately comes down to Person A influencing Person B to see value and merit in what they have to offer. It’s really how we influence that shapes the perception about sales for the buyer. Think about any interaction with the seller that left you a sour taste. Now think of the ones where you had a fantastic experience. What was different?
For any business, there are 2 vital elements needed to grow- Leadership and Sales. Through my interaction with many business owners and entrepreneurs, mention the word leadership, and they all get pumped up. Mention the word sales, and for most of them, their body language starts to drop. Very few people actually respond positively about conversations related to sales. Interestingly, it’s those few people that are really successful in their ventures. Imagine your business at one end of a river, and your customers at the other. Sales is the bridge that opens up the delivery of your offerings to the customers at the other end. If you are uncomfortable about building the bridge, how do you expect your customers to get the value of your offering?
People who do well in business, do well in sales. They follow 3 aspects, which are coming up as 3 key trends for sales going forward which can easily change the general perception of sales. Are you curious to take a deep dive into these trends, that can help you achieve accelerated business growth? All right, here we go:
Trust based selling
It has often been said that sales is a numbers game. That saying is quickly becoming a myth. The new adage goes “Sales is about relationships”. What is a foundation for any relationship to work? It’s all based on trust. Where there is strong trust and rapport, there is a strong, functional relationship. Think of all the perceptions we looked at earlier: Pushy, aggressive, annoying, dishonest. Would you interact with someone who comes across as these? So what’s lacking here? Trust, of course!
With sales, there is often the ‘pressure’ of closing the sale, asking for the business. And when we approach a sales conversation with this pressure, we look at taking ‘things forward’. The person at the other end may not be comfortable yet, however, we still feel the need to move things ahead. Can you sense the pressure building already, at both ends? The greater the pressure, the quicker trust goes out of the window.
How about an alternate approach to sales? An approach that focuses on one thing only: To find out the truth. And the truth? Are you a match with your customer? Can you solve their problems? Think of the difference this brings to the conversation. The focus is not on taking ‘things forward’, but to understand if we are best placed to collaborate with each other. That creates greater trust with your customers, with them sensing that you are looking to understand them first, rather than drive the sale at all costs.
Think of your approach to sales? What do you focus on? What comes first- closing the sale or building trust?
You don’t sell, they buy
A concise representation of sales is: The seller sells, the buyer buys. Very often, sales involves the seller selling something they consider of value. The question is, does the buyer buy it? And when do buyers do that? When they see the value of what’s on offer. With modern day sales, what matters is the value buyers perceive.
Buyers start appreciating the value when they are convinced that your product or service is what they want to overcome their problems. As a part of this process, you ask more questions to your customers or buyers about the current problems they have, what they are looking for in terms of a solution, and how important the solution is for them. The better the quality of your questions, the greater clarity you have on their problems. which then enables you to identify the right solution for them, provided you are a match. This makes your customers believe that your solution can take them from their current ordinary world to an extraordinary world. That’s when the perceived value of your offer goes up.
In your interactions with your customers, do you sell your offering, or do they buy? What questions do you ask that helps them perceive the value you offer?
Most of us are exposed to social media these days. Social media has certainly made the world a smaller place, and people can reach out to others like never before. The world has seem to shrunk as people across the globe can easily connect with each other. News, Information, thoughts, opinion seems to travel much quicker. Now here’s the thing: If this is the case, can information about your business and your offerings travel as swiftly? Of course!
Whether your business is Business to Business (B2B) or Business to Consumers (B2C), chances are that your target market is on social media. And there’s your opportunity to make social media your friend to generate more sales. Using social media, you can start engaging with your target market, position your business as the key to what they want.
A significant number of businesses are now active on social media and through engaging with their audience, are starting to build trust in their brand. So when they offer something online, there is perceived value already. Not just that, if customers are happy with your service or product, they can leave a positive review on social media. Your sales process becomes more effortless, as people tend to make decisions through the positive feedback about your business, and, they come to YOU. How good is that?
How does your business leverage social selling at the moment?
To summarise, the 3 trends in sales are something you can embrace to enjoy the sales process more. As you do this, you tend to build trust and stronger relationships with your customers. Sales then isn’t a dirty word- it is a step to bigger and better things.
Arpan Roy is a Leadership Consultant and Trainer. His key belief is that leadership is vital for growth of any business. Through Arman Consultancy, his business venture, he collaborates with leaders in businesses to define productivity and profit to achieve accelerated business growth. He specialises in various methodologies such as Values Pendulum®, Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) and Deep State Repatterning®. Using these, he identifies the cause of unrealised individual performance and business growth and creates effective and sustainable models for change that empower his clients to achieve the desired results. Arpan is based in Melbourne, Australia with his wife Manasee, who is also his business partner. If you are curious about how you can enhance your leadership to make a difference to your business or organisation, you can contact Arpan at email@example.com or visit www.blueprintforleadership.com