Anyone who’s been in sales or business development knows there are a couple different paths you can take in a sale. There’s the low road, which includes things like bashing competitors, stretching the truth about your own product, and general chest puffing. This road might work to close some sales here and there, but you can only hide behind the veil of your sales pitch for so long. Eventually your product will have to do the talking, and backup what you sold.
And then there’s the better, yet less traveled road: the high road. The high road might lose you a couple of battles here and there when people take the bait of your competition’s low road approach, but you will always win in the long-run. Both as a company and a respectable human being.
Here are 5 steps to taking the high road, and selling in a manner that is beneficial to you, the company, and the customer.
1. Have a genuine interest in getting to know the people you are selling to.
Unless you plan on retiring off the commission from your next sale, you are going to want to continually build a network of friends and peers for the rest of your career. This very likely can include the person on the other end of the line, especially if you are on a career track within a specific industry.
Get to know these people beyond “hey you should buy this”. Who they are, where they’re from, what companies they’ve been with, etc. They may not be a customer today, but creating a true connection with them could lead to a business relationship in the future.
This is one of the most common pieces of advice given in sales, yet it is rarely followed. We tend to get in “sales mode” and focus on me me me (aka word vomit), without taking a breath and listening to the other party.
Each of your potential customers has a different pain point and problem they need help solving. Ask the right questions and listen well to understand what that is for each person. You should know whether or not your product is a fit for them before you say a word about your own product. If you know all of their pain points, then it’s simply painting the picture of how your product alleviates that for them.
3. Understand that your product is not a fit for everyone.
If you think your product is for everyone, I encourage you to get to know your product a little better. If you are truly listening to your customers’ needs (see step 2), you will know whether or not they are a fit for your product or service. If they aren’t, don’t try to force a square peg into a round hole.
Want to go a step further? If you aren’t a fit for them, suggest some other options that might be. Your input will be appreciated, and you are opening a door to stay in touch in the future. You never know when their needs will change and your product is exactly what they are looking for.
4. Leave the hard close for the bars.
Want to know the quickest way to have someone stop returning your calls and emails? Try to close them when they aren’t ready to be closed. Every call doesn’t have to end with an increase to your bottom line. Approach sales calls as consultative and investigative for both parties.
Your goal is to leave the potential customer in the best possible position to make a decision. Even if you’re the dominant personality on the call and you can close them over the phone, that can be a recipe for creating buyer’s remorse, in which they regret buying your product, and will likely not do business with you again in the future.
5. Don’t be a prick.
Imagine you just met someone at a party. Intros are made. Hands are shaken. And then the person says this… “You see that guy over there? He sucks. Nobody likes him. He smells funny, and on top of that, he dresses like an idiot. You should hang with me instead.” What would your reaction be to someone like this? Probably not good. I imagine you’d look for the quickest opportunity to move on from this unfortunate encounter.
Sales is no different. Humans are humans, and we shouldn’t put off unbecoming behavior in the name of a sale. If your product is truly valuable you should translate that message to the potential customer, without focusing on what the competition is doing. That being said, know your competitors inside and out, so you know how to differentiate yourself and your products.
At FullContact, we live by the above. If you’re looking to add enhanced social data to your sales and marketing pipeline, or to your app’s contacts, give our contact API a try. We promise we won’t go for the hard close. (It’s not how we roll.)
**(Image courtesy of Jeff Ruane – Flickr, Creative Commons)