In the sales world, the rules aren’t what they used to be. When today’s consumers engage a business representative to inquire about products or services, they expect honesty, transparency and forthright advice. If they sense they are being sold to, it will compromise the representative’s credibility and devalues the product or service being discussed.
To avoid being perceived as the stereotypical salesperson, representatives should adopt the mentality of a doctor. Think about it; when you visit your doctor, odds are you don’t perceive their diagnosis’s or recommended treatments as sales pitches. Instead, you view their advice as objective and in your best interest. This is the same level of candor and advice customers want and respond to when they engage other professionals.
Take these five steps to turn your old pitches into prescriptions and increase your close rate among prospective customers.
- Shift from Outbound to Inbound. One of the primary advantages of generating inbound leads as opposed to outbound is that inbound leads allow a representative to act as an expert rather than a salesperson. Outbound strategies like mailers or cold calls are widely viewed as solicitations and are often viewed as a nuisance nowadays, rather than a courtesy. A lead originating from an e-book download, on the other hand, is initiated by the potential customer, and allows the representative to follow up to provide further insight and guidance in a non-threatening way.
- Ask Questions. There is nothing worse than a salesperson who tries to push a solution before they even know what the problem is. When talking to a prospective customer, representatives should ask thoughtful questions that will get to the root of the problem. For example, rather than immediately promoting a new line of necklaces, a jeweler should ask the customer what brings them to the store. That simple question lays the foundation for trust and understanding during the exchange. It aligns the jeweler with the customer’s needs and positions the representative as a source of advice and information.
- Don’t Pressure Your Potential Clients. No one wants to feel pressured into buying anything, and a salesperson should not come off as overeager or over-invested in a particular business opportunity. It can be off-putting to the customer and give them second thoughts about making the purchase. A good doctor will present you with the facts and give their recommendation on how you should move forward with your medical treatment. They will rarely make you feel pressured into agreeing with them, unless of course it’s a matter of life and death. You’ll most likely take their advice because they’ve given you the facts and established themselves as a trustworthy expert; not because they’ve pestered you with dozens of phone calls and emails asking when you were going to purchase your new medication. The same rules apply to the sales world. Establish trust with your potential clients and they’ll be just as eager to work with you as you are with them.
- Be Confident in Your Product. Good doctors would never recommend a medication or treatment that they wouldn’t be willing to do themselves, or give to their families. A good salesperson should follow suit. Confidence might seem like its easy to fake, but quality clients know when someone is acting phony. We’ve all heard this before, but it especially rings true in the sales world: you have to truly love what you do (or what you sell, in this instance) for a living in order to be successful in attracting and retaining customers.
- Know When to Walk Away. This goes along with tip #3, but a good salesperson knows how to read when they’re not going to make a sale and are putting to much time and energy into a person who just won’t give back. In the end, sales is a partnership between salesperson and client and you don’t want to be working for someone that you constantly have to chase after. Save your time, energy and business resources for the good clients who want to work with you, too.