Are there any honest sales people left anymore? And if so, how would you know? Having worked over 6 years in sales – in a competitive industry, overly saturated by coldly aggressive, product-focused tactics, and where salaries are too heavily reliant on commissions – you can imagine why I would be a doubter too. Recent studies show us that the average consumer is exposed to up to 10,000 brand messages a day. We are being bombarded and force-fed information; told what we should and shouldn't buy, how we should dress, and what we should be eating. With such a barrage of branding, consumers can become numb to the message as a result.
Modern product-focused sales techniques have amplified this effect. Not paying attention to a client's needs and aggressively selling their services has led to a distrust of the salesman. As sales people, we should be asking our customers what they actually need – rather than trying to aggressively convince them to buy something in a way that does not take their personal needs and goals into account.
So what do we do?
As sales people, we need to remember that a client’s emotions affect the sale process. We need to prove to our clients that we genuinely care. This matters more than the product or solution we’re selling, and should always be put first. This technique is called Needs-Based Selling or the Consultative Sell. It relies less on establishing the salesperson as purveyor and the customer as recipient of information, and instead aims to create a much more collaborative interaction.
At Burrows, this is a process we take pride in. We deliver honest, value-added advice that really addresses our clients’ individual goals, in order to deliver the best possible, tailored solutions for them. We’ll even refer a client to partner agencies if we see a more efficient solution. This kind of honesty builds trust and long-running brand loyalty. Some of the best sales I've witnessed have been where the client did 90% of the talking. The salesperson is able to encourage this through carefully curated questions and, most importantly, by listening.
Top tips for building a fruitful relationship and making the sale
Research- Be the one in the know. Take a genuine interest in the company or the person you will be working with/selling to. Then ask yourself: Do they have a need? Are you credible? What are your competitors offering? Who are the key decision makers? And most importantly, how can you provide added value?
Believe It - Psychology plays a big part in sales and positivity is contagious. So take that aggressive sales energy you had and channel it into positive, authentic passion. And remember you need to believe in what you're saying if you want someone else to believe it too.
Effective Questioning - When researching, cover all possible opportunities and things you will need to know in order to qualify. Be prepared to steer the meeting. The very best sales people make this process seamless, asking open-ended questions and leading the client to outline their problems and their needs.
Listen - Always ensure you understand what’s being said. This is the most important part of the process. Make notes. And adopt the habit of repeating important points back to the client. This doesn't just confirm that you’re listening. It also gives the client a chance to correct you, and to clarify or accentuate the important information. This is called Active Listening.
Teach - Be the expert and use your knowledge to show the client that you are both credible and have a solid understanding of their goals. Use questioning to float ideas. And give before you get.
Qualify - This should be well underway by now but continue to be empathetic, and use your enthusiasm to enliven the client. Don’t be afraid to challenge them over something you truly believe in. Reassert your authenticity and ability to provide them with the right solution.
The Close - This part should be easy if you have put in the work, built the rapport, maintained an emotional connection and developed that trust from day one. It should now just be a matter of getting confirmation. Be confident. Maintain that momentum and arrange the next steps. Remember the sale is not just in securing that 'yes', but the whole process that has lead to it.
Be Genuine - The most valuable advice I can give is to always put the products or solutions you’re offering second and your client first. Let’s face it; usually the differences between your product and your competitors’ will be minimal. The client is really investing in the person making the sale. The more genuine, honest and attentive you are, the more lucrative the relationship will be.
Developing long-lasting, meaningful relationships is the key to success for any organisation. So next time, have faith in honesty and prove to the client you are being genuine. Scrap the aggressive sales tactics and go for the long-lasting partnerships that will be much more valuable to your business in the long run.
Business Development Manager