We’re in a New Age of Sales, I touched on this with an introductory post last week, and the next few posts are going to be based around this topic, but to look forward into the new age, we need to understand how we got here, why we need a new age, and what the old, outdated approach to sales actually looked like.
We need this New Age of Sales for multiple reasons, declining retail sales, rising competition, and online shopping to name a few, but the main one is the lack of trust.
Salespeople were once the main source of information for clients and prospects, and people looked to them for advice and knowledge, but unfortunately, this position was often abused, utilising this position of power to, instead of genuinely helping the client, manipulate them into taking the deal. Resulting in clients feeling pressured and unsure. The old salesperson was inward focused, with their own agenda at front of mind. Which has created consumers who no longer trust anyone in a sales position, they now believe salespeople are there to push them into sales, to persuade them, to tell them what they need. Salespeople still practicing the old approach are suffering, as clients no longer respond to the same old tricks. And with the rise in technology, with a lot of information readily available to anyone on their phones, salespeople have lost the position they once held, where they had all the knowledge.
The New Age of Sales, is outward focused, with the client, and how you can help them, front of mind. Positioning yourself as a trusted advisor, and selling genuinely, through rapport, trust, and authenticity.
But to truly understand how we got to needing a New Age, let’s look at some old, outdated sales tactics, that some people are still taught today!
If you’ve been taught any of these, your killing your sales, stop using them. Now.
- The generic, cookie cutter, Cold Call intro
In cold calls, people will often start the call with “Hi, my name is ________, from ________ and we do ___________.” Congratulations, you sound like every other sales call they’ve received this week and their defensive walls go up. Not only that, you’ve told them what you’re trying to sell them without even finding out their name. There’s no trust, no rapport, and no dialogue. Starting a call by saying what solutions you offer, without actually speaking to your prospect first, and working out their problems, is ridiculous. Rephrase your approach. Stand out from the hundreds of other sales calls your prospect gets, and build rapport first. Get a 2-way dialogue going, then try a different approach. For example, if you are selling website design, or SEO optimisation, something such as “I’m not sure if this is something that would interest you, but I was just calling to see if you’d be open to looking at potential issues within your website that may be causing you to lose sales?” You can be more specific, but rattling off the old sales script of “Hi, my name is _______ and I do SEO optimisation and website design, do you want someone to look over your existing website?” Isn’t as effective, and no one wants to lose sales.
- Telling, not asking
Salespeople once did a lot of ‘telling’ clients. “This is the best. You need this. We’re better than our competitors because of ________.” This kind of persuasive language is actually often still taught, but it doesn’t work. Sales is solution based, and you need to find the best solution for your prospect. Not just telling them they need a certain product (often, this product conveniently provided the salesperson the highest commission), you need to ask open questions, and work out their specific needs, wants, and problems, then work out what will be the best solution for them. There is enough competition around that attempting to tell a client what they need and push them into an option doesn’t work, they can easily leave. Finding the product or service which is best for them, rather than trying to force a square peg into a round hole, will leave them convincing themselves that they need it, and leaving as a happy, (and often, loyal), customer.
- Focusing solely on the sales pitch
As mentioned earlier, your prospect has an infinite vault of information at their fingertips every time they look at their smartphone. They’ve probably googled your products and reviews of your products before you’ve even met them. You can’t begin with a sales pitch that just rattles off all the features and benefits, you need to speak with them, ask open questions, build up some rapport and work out how your product will benefit them. Going through a list of features and benefits, without knowing the prospects problems, needs, or wants, is useless. The pitch used to be the main focus of the sales process, but now, dialogue, and discovery need to be at the forefront, once you know exactly you’re your prospect is looking for, you can direct their attention to how the product or service will directly benefit them in their specific situation. This approach also shortens the sales process and minimises the chance of you losing their attention.
- Only asking questions that you know the answer to
Now, this is an old one. Lawyers use this regularly when questioning. But in sales, it’s ineffective, salespeople used to use questions that could only be answered certain ways to manipulate people into buying, or playing it safe using yes or no questions so there’s less chance for the prospect to throw out objections. If you’re only asking questions you know the answer to, you’re assuming each prospect has the same needs as the last, and you’ll probably end up with their walls going up, throwing objections at you, and ultimately, getting rejected. All because, you don’t understand your prospect, and your agenda (closing the sale), is at the front of your mind. The client knows that, they’ll work out that you just want to close the sale and aren’t too worried if your solution is right for them as long as they buy it. That doesn’t work anymore, you will lose sales using this technique. Know your product inside and out, and be prepared to be caught off guard with answers you didn’t expect.
- “Controlling” the sales process
Salespeople were once trained (and unfortunately, some still are), that they need to be in control throughout the sales process. This is another one that will directly cause you to lose sales. The prospect can remove themselves from the situation at any point they want to, really, you have no control. Another technique used here is talking to the customer instead of with them, and refers back to number 2 in this list. You’ll come off as looking obnoxious if you try to control the situation the whole way through. What you need to be doing is changing their view of you, from salesperson, to trusted advisor. You’re never going to control the entire situation, so you need to move into a position where they look to you for knowledge and advice, which requires a great deal of rapport and trust. This way, instead of trying to force yourself into a controlling role, you’ll be in a position to exhibit your expertise, and work with the prospect to find the right solution for them.
Our next few posts are going to be focused more on helping you enter, and excel in, the New Age of Sales. Click here to keep up to date on new posts, subscribe to our newsletter, and receive the latest news on our upcoming training content. You’ll also receive the 4 part mini-series ‘MySalesToolkit’ FREE!