Face it. People don’t want to be sold. They’re tired of being one of the “suckers” who are supposedly born every minute. They’re suspicious; they don’t like parting with their money, and to many people, ALL sales people are the same. They know you are after their money. They know you do not have their best interests at heart. They think you are pushy and arrogant… somebody who might sell their own grandmother if it meant a bonus!
But people love being coached. It’s respectful and considerate of their needs. it helps them focus on what is right for them. In fact, it’s all about them – the client. It doesn’t matter to you if you make a sale or not, and they appreciate that… in fact, they just may buy something from you after all… you’re so ‘nice’ and honest!
The days of the old-fashioned salesman/woman have long gone. For many in the sales profession, they know what not to do, but they aren’t quite sure about what they should be doing. And the answer is quite simple… learn and apply coaching skills to your selling situations.
H.R. professionals and Managers are embracing coaching skills now because they realize this is the best way to deal effectively and successfully with all types of people. It entails a special honesty and openness that up until very recent times, was not a reputation the sales profession enjoyed. One of the wonderful things about coaching is that it can be applied to anybody in any situation with remarkable results. The reason it works is quite simple. People like to feel respected and honoured as intelligent and worthwhile beings. They like to be listened to and understood. They like others to be honest with them and not manipulate them. When you make somebody feel this way, it is very interesting to see how cooperative they become.
As a Sales “coach”, instead of worrying about closing the sale, you can relax and coach people into a sale. Instead of struggling with resistant prospects, you can coach them into doing the right thing for you and for them. Once you cease to be pushy, people cease to resist. When coaching a client, rather than selling to them, you listen to what they have to say, and by listening very closely to everything they say rather than thinking about what you will say next, you can learn if they are likely to be a fit for whatever you are selling and how best your product or service may serve them. You will learn what their objections are and whether they are reasonable or something that can be overcome. This process is a gentle, friendly and polite way to do business and it is one to which more people respond favourably.
In essence, people come to see you more as a trustworthy advisor rather than somebody with ulterior motives and your eye on their wallet. Leave your sales pitch in your briefcase… when coaching your customer you start with questions, and then listen very carefully to the answers. Don’t speak to them like you would to a ten year old or somebody whose mother language is anything but English. Speak to them as you would to friends. You don’t push it if your customer seems anxious to get away. Maybe they are busy and your timing is bad.
When you have listened and learned about your prospective customer’s needs and situation, you are in a position to know whether what you can offer will be of real benefit to them. Don’t try and recite the sales brochure, just select a few things about what you can offer that apply to their situation. If you were listening closely to them, this part will be easy. Then invite them to take the next step, and don’t get anxious at the last minute and resort to hard sales techniques from yester-year in an attempt to close the sale. Leave the ball in the customer’s court. Establish your integrity and sincerity first. You have to “sell” the person on YOU first, before you can sell them on your product or service. And it’s important to note that people can spot a phony a mile a way. It’s better to leave your card, a brochure and other pertinent details with them and invite them to call you at any time, no obligation, if they’d like further information, than undo all your efforts by trying to close the sale with the old traditional methods and risk losing them even as a future customer.
A not so obvious benefit of this approach is even if this customer isn’t interested, they may know somebody else who would be. Word of mouth referrals are powerful. Never forget that every prospective customer to whom you speak may be able to bring more business your way. What would you like them to say to their friends about you and your product?
So don’t think of yourself as a salesperson in the future… think of yourself as a friendly and trusted advisor, who just so happens to have a particular brand or service he recommends. Never run down your competition. In fact, if you believe your client would be best served by another company’s product, you can earn valuable points by telling them about it.
It sounds easy, but when it comes to putting it into practice, these skills do not necessarily come naturally to everybody. But there is no need to despair. There are some excellent training programs around – there are some duds too. It pays to do your research when looking for training. Or if time and money is an issue, you can invest in a home-study coaching kit and learn these skills in your own time.
It doesn’t really matter which method you choose to upgrade your skills, just as long as you do upgrade. “Selling” is so “yesterday” and your customers are much more wiser and savvy than they used to be.