I spent the majority of my professional career in a sales capacity, selling everything from home loans and copiers to mechanical engineering software and 3D Printers. Generally speaking, people without any experience feel intimidated by sales. They view it as being either about manipulating the buyer or some form of black magic. If you are uncomfortable and unsure of yourself in sales it's nearly impossible to gain the customer's respect. If your to forward or pushy you will come off like a sleazy used car salesman. So what's the answer?
There are a lot of contrasting styles, strategies, mantras, and personality types in sales, so there is a collection of different books that you could read, each of which will typically point you in various directions. Whether it's solution sales, insight sales, or the challenger sales strategy, one thing will have to remain constant for you to be successful: your ability to provide value. It was Albert Einstein who said "Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value," and portraying this message to your customers through your actions will lead to success. But how can you do this? Start with these three simple concepts:
Listen to your customer without an agenda. Too often sales people want to interject their opinions and products too early in the sales process. Stop thinking about your quota, commission, and bonuses, and start listening to what the customer/prospect wants and needs.
Care about your customer's objectives and goals. If you truly care about the customer you should understand their industry, market conditions, competitors, and trends because this can help you determine whether your product or service will be of value to their organization. Care enough to say that your product or service may or may not be good for them. Honesty will go a long way!
Understand why you are a valuable investment. If you effectively put into practice attentive listening and caring about the customer they will undoubtedly understand your value. This gives you confidence and the right to provide insight and knowledge. Bring up references of other customers you have helped by carefully listening and caring. This can remove the title of "salesperson" from their minds, and they will label you as a trusted advisor.
These three simple concepts will help you earn your customer's respect and business. Successful selling isn't about what you want; it's about doing your best to serve the needs of your customer. I will leave you with a quote from Zig Ziglar: “You can have everything in life that you want if you just give enough other people what they want.”
Happy Holidays and Happy selling!