When I run my live workshops, we always kick-off with the most essential exercise anyone can do – whether in sales or not – and that is to understand their own (and others) behavioural and emotional characteristics.
So often, a potential client will come to me to seek advice on price points, the design of a Facebook Ad, or how many calls they need to make to be effective in sales. All good elements to consider, but there’s a fundamental building block that needs to be put in place first. It’s a bit like getting up, going to work, without your clothes on! I insist that we always go back to basics.
And by doing this I witness, time and again, the impact this workshop session has on confidence levels as it slowly dawns on my attendees that the stereotypical ‘salesperson’ is not who they need to be. The relief is palpable! This epiphany is a wondrous and rewarding thing in my life.
For it is NOT ‘he who shouts loudest’ that is winning in sales – it is he (and she) who listens longest and then uses her soft, natural, innate skills and intelligence to match product to need.
Let’s take ‘assertiveness’ - one of the most essential selling skills. Immediately, our imaginations conjure up visions of the slick, pushy salesman whose sole aim is to pressure us into submission. Or we see the all-powerful, abrasive ‘ladyboss’ who’s just crushed some poor chaps balls somewhere by the water cooler. That’s Type 1 Assertiveness.
It is very typical for us ladies to misinterpret how assertiveness needs to manifest itself to be successful in sales. We tell ourselves “I am not assertive, therefore I cannot be a good sales person, therefore I’ll do other stuff in my business that makes me feel successful (like going to a network event and handing out my business card)”. Stop right there!
Assertiveness is a soft skill, an emotional intelligence skill, which produces hard sales results. This is Type 2 Assertiveness and the one we’re aiming to use!
Without Type 2 assertiveness, us ladies end up wasting hours nurturing prospects that are never going to buy. Have you ever found yourself in the following scenario.
You meet with a potential customer/client that is really nice. The chemistry is good, and the small talk shows you have lots in common personally. She is open about sharing information and saying all the right things. “I need to do something. It’s time for change and we need some help. That’s why I’m meeting with you”. Your hairs stand on end, you can’t believe this opportunity has come your way. And so, when you are asked to put together a proposal or quotation, you skip away joyfully. But it’s at exactly that moment that we need to hang around a while longer to finish our Type 2 ‘assertiveness’ job.
Because, what happens at the point we hear “we want change, we need to improve and we need to start in 4 weeks time” – we switch off, mentally pack up our notebook and rush away. Whereas, what we should be doing is, with our Big Girl Pants on, to press a little further to ‘qualify’ (there’s a good sales word!).
You need to use all your intuition by asking the right questions - to separate the tyre kicker from the client in genuine need. In traditional sales training, we always talk about finding your MAN – the person/customer/prospect who has the Money (i.e. they are the budget holder), the Authority (i.e. they are responsible for making the final decision) and the Need (i.e. they need to change or else). It’s no different in your own small business – find your MAN.
And in our scenario the end isn’t pretty. You spend hours writing a considered proposal, only to hear, “This looks great. Could you give me a call early next year, when the MD is going to announce if this initiative has got funding”. Been there?
How can we be in control of a different outcome?
1. A Type 2 Assertive salesperson is comfortable mentioning the elephant in the room – the compelling reason for change.
2. Check that you have your MAN by asking searching questions.
3. Test commitment to change by asking the ‘what if’ questions… “What if this project didn’t go ahead, what are the consequences?”
4. Change your mind-set to ‘it’s my job to flush out the tyre kicker’ and select only the customers or clients that deserve a place in your sales pipeline.
If you want to find out more about ‘behavioural selling’ you can attend one of my Workshops in 2018, or look out for the desktop course launching in the Spring. Go to www.thesalemaker.com and sign up to my mailing list to stay updated.