Sales for business owners: What you need to know about your sales mindset and becoming an effective salespersonBlog, 02/02/18
So you have a business running, a fancy website with the latest UI designs, some cool business cards…
All of these are great and it will definitely contribute to the success of your business, but do you know what the most important thing in running a business?
Knowing how to sell your products or services.
That’s right; nothing is more important in a business than understanding sales and applying it to your services. It is, however, a skill that is often misunderstood or neglected by many business owners.
Here’s the thing;
There are many successful businesses in the world that are not the best in their niche, but they are the best in terms of selling. McDonalds do not have the best or healthiest burgers, but they made it as a mega-corporation because of good marketing decisions and more importantly, great marketing and sales efforts.
In this guide, we’ll give business owners like you a no BS sales guide. It won’t make you the best salesperson in the universe, but it will guide through the whole concept of sales and understanding how to apply it when you are promoting your business.
What is sales?
Movies like Leonardo DiCaprio’s Wolf of Wall Street and The Boiler Room paints salesmen as men in suits who try every single trick in the sales playbook to make money; movies like Mad Men glorifies the role of a sales executive as people who can manipulate the mass public for their benefits.
So, is sales just like the movies?
It’s not far off from that. There are people in real life who make money off squeezing every single cent out of their customers, executives who live by learning how to sell their whole lives, college graduates trying to move up the ranks at the car dealership.
Really, sales boils down to one thing: provide enough value for someone to justify their spending.
That’s right, the best salespeople in the world have the ability to make their customers feel like spending money is the right choice. The easiest way to do that?
You see, the power of value is so great that ethically immoral MLM companies and scams like Ponzi schemes are able to make millions, if not billions, of dollars by just selling the promise of value.
We do not endorse these shady companies, but it goes to show you that value is such a powerful factor in influencing a buyer’s decision. Of course, if you want to run a successful business, you will have to deliver on the value that you’ve promised to your customers.
Over here at RBT, we give our clients the idea of achieving their fitness goals.
What do we do?
We take them under our wings and push them to the limits, we give them 200% of our support and motivation, we treat them like brothers and sisters in arms with our programs – and they achieve their goals, just like how our initial promise was.
The same thing happens with our consulting business. We take in clients who need help with their business, give them an idea of what to expect, and we make sure to execute it damn well.
Our clients are happy with what we do and they’re happy because we provide enough value to them.
Besides providing value, sales is very much like making a friend; you have to build rapport and relationships to “make it”. Your customer or client has to see you as someone who is trustable – not someone who only sees dollar signs.
In summary, sales is:
- Providing values and benefits to the buyer to justify their spending.
- Building rapport and relationship with the buyer to build trust.
If you think that sales is just like opening a book and knowing every trick in that super-secret sales techniques book, forget about that – more so if you are a service business.
I suck at sales… I won’t do it or I’ll just delegate it
Stop right there.
First, no one sucks at sales. Some people are naturally charismatic, but 99% of the most successful business owners are people who are just like you and me.
Secondly, if you are reading this guide, hiring a salesperson is probably not within your budget right now nor is it a good idea… yet.
There is always this negative notion going around business owner’s minds that they can’t sell, they don’t have the ability to do sales, they think sales is a waste of their time –
Listen, if you think that you suck at sales, then to overcome that obstacle, you’ll have to actually do sales. You’ll have to pick up the phone, meet some people in events or over coffee, or write some letters.
Once again, NO ONE SUCKS AT SALES – NOT EVEN YOU!
Hiring a salesperson is also not as easy as picking some fresh grad to work for you. If you want to hire a competent salesperson, how are you going to convince the person that your company is a great place to work?
How are you going to sell him or her the vision of where your company is going to grow? How are you going to the growth prospects of working at your business?
Seriously, sales is all about communicating and building rapport. Stop thinking of sales as an exclusive skill; it is just an extension of effective communication between people – it’s that simple.
When you think of sales as just a way of communicating with someone, the burden will slowly be lifted off your shoulders.
The 3 biggest mistakes in sales
Have you ever met a salesperson who was too pushy about the thing that they’re selling? You know what we mean, the rapid-fire sales pitch, the constant talking, the super aggressive and direct approach –
It’s annoying, right?
Your potential customers can smell desperation from a mile away, so you need to calm down and really try to build a relationship first before you go in for the close.
One of the biggest causes of desperation is when you try to sell the product instead of the solution. It is so important to understand the difference between selling a solution vs. selling a product.
This same advice applies to offers also; no one cares about how massive your company is or how advanced your technology is, they only want to know how can you solve their problems.
If you are running a gym, how can you help them to achieve their fitness goals? If you are running a marketing business, how can you help them to achieve a good ROI on their ad spend?
The moment that you shift from trying to peddle products to actually selling the benefits of your product to your clients – that’s when you stop being desperate in your clients’ eyes.
Another thing to keep in mind is that if you don’t get a sale in the first meeting, that’s fine. But do not push a client too much if they don’t end up working with you. Your clients do not have an obligation to work with you; being pushy is going to push your clients away.
It’s always better to take a few meetings to land a client rather than to lose one right away.
That’s right, you have to actually calm down and take a breather when you talk to someone. Talking super fast about your services and products is not going to tell your target audience anything!
Which one do you think your customer is going to understand more?
“Hi, there – wearearesults-orientedmarketingagencywithaknacktohelpbusinessownerslikeyou….. blah blah”
“Hey, how’s it going, mate? So – what are you looking for help with?”
Very clearly, the second sentence comes off as more clear and less desperate.
Sales is not about firing off every single thing about your services as fast as possible, it’s about understanding your customers’ needs and finding a solution to it.
This means that at the sales “pitch”, take some time to have a chat, introduce yourself, and really just enjoy the occasion. Since you’re running a business, you’re going to need long-term and valuable clients and the only way to achieve that is if they like you.
One more thing that you should realise is not every sale is closed in one meeting; we would make sure to keep in touch with our leads every day for our RBT gyms – that’s how we got our business to grow steadily.
Multi-million dollar sales are closed in months and even years, so it’s unrealistic to expect a sale the at the first meeting. Usually, it’d take about 2-3 meetings for you to get a client. If you are charismatic enough, you can do it in one meeting, but it’s not a failure to take 2-3 tries to close a sale.
Besides, having a few meetings is also good for your business.
Sure, you may close the sale the first time but one meeting is usually not enough for you to gauge the interest and lifetime value of the client. Let us paraphrase this:
Would you rather spend a few days gauging if a client is valuable to your business or lose a year or two with the wrong client?
Being too sales-oriented
We said that sales is all about building relationships and rapport; that means you should never, ever talk to your potential clients in a sales tone.
Yes, you should try to push them and engage them in making them your clients but remember, your client is also human. Just like how people can detect desperation, they can also feel it if you are trying to sell too much.
So, how do you avoid being too much about sales and too little about building a relationship?
The simplest thing to do is to stop thinking about the “close” or the sale. That’s right; the more that you think about closing the sale, the more that you are going to talk like a salesperson.
Your goal is to build trust rapport – remember that. If you didn’t close the sale, you can try again, but if you fail to get your potential client to trust you in the first meeting, getting him or her to change her mind is going to be a massive task.
An easy way to remember that is this: if you make a friend at the end of the day, that’s great. Do you talk to a friend about how this “$499 course is going to change your business’ ROI”? Do you talk to a friend about how your course is going to “revitalise the business in the future”?
People are already in self-defense mode the moment you try to sell something to them; speaking in a sales-oriented tone is going to make things worse.
Get to know more about the person, genuinely be interested in what’s wrong with his or her life, get to know how much they love their kids, get to know how much the business means to them….
All these friendly interactions are going to help you overcome objections (something that we’ll talk about later in this guide).
The mindset of sales
Now that we’ve got the mistakes cleared up, there’s one final mistake (or habit) that’s costing business owners like you.
The biggest mistake in sales
The worst thing that you can do in sales is to be afraid of rejection. Fear of rejection is why you think your business sucks, it’s why you think you are not as good as your peers, it’s why you think you can’t sell anything-
It’s because you are afraid of rejection.
You are afraid of getting a “no” from your clients, you hate that feeling. Guess what? Every successful company under the sun were rejected plenty of times before they made it.
Airbnb was rejected 7 times before it got funding, Walt Disney and JK Rowling were both personalities who have more rejections than success, Steve Jobs was rejected from his own company!
Here’s the truth:
Realistically, you are going to get rejected in your first few sales meetings and that’s perfectly fine. These rejections are not failures – they are opportunities for you to learn what went wrong and what to do better the next time.
You may try 10 times, 20 times, 30 times, and you’ll learn to deal with rejections along the way. You know what happens after the 50th rejection?
Nothing happens because you are used to rejection, it doesn’t bother you, it’s just a word! Think of it this way, you have the option to say “yes” and “no”; so why should you be bothered when your potential clients say no?
Your clients are not rejecting you, they are rejecting your offer – there is a key difference. You were rejected not because you are an awful person, but it’s because what you were offering does not offer enough value to your potential clients.
The faster you realise that rejections are targeted at your offers rather than yourself, the better you’ll be at handling it and (hopefully) sell more. The best way to learn that?
It’s by getting rejected time and time again. Experience is the best teacher and no book or guide (not even ours) can give you the ultimate lesson in learning how to deal with rejection and leverage it to your advantage.
With that being said, here are some tips to help you attain a great sales mindset to guide you in growing your business.
Understand why you were rejected constructively.
The knee-jerk reaction to getting rejected is “I’m awful at selling.” or “I don’t think I’m good enough.” These kind of thoughts are going to hinder you more than it will benefit you.
You need to think of rejections as lessons; which part of the sales pitch did I mess up? Did I not offer enough value before talking about my fees? Did I focus too little on the benefits of my services?
You’ll be surprised at how often you can spot the mistakes and inconsistencies in your communication this way. Just like how Facebook and Google marketing works, you will need to tweak your pitch to find out which works best.
At the same time, pitch A may work for John but it won’t work for George. So you’ll have to learn from your rejections and understand how to make it work for different people. Without rejections, you won’t have golden opportunities to analyse and tweak a pitch that sells well.
Get feedback from existing clients or mentors
A great way to understand rejections better would be to ask your existing clients about their experience so far and ask them about the initial stages of the working relationship.
You can match their answers with your rejections and find out a common pattern to help you with tweaking your sales pitch.
You can also seek help from mentors or coaches (like us) who have plenty of experience in dealing with sales in your niche. Often times, these people have faced rejections similar to yours, so they’ll be able to help you with your problems and find a solution to it.
Notice that we did not include feedback from friends and family – why?
Getting responses from your family and friends is not wrong, but we want feedback from people who will actually invest their time and money into us as well as people who have plenty of experience – just like mentors.
Feedback from people who are not willing to invest in your business is useless because:
- It’s free to them. Since they are not spending money, everything sounds good to them. Nothing will happen to them since they are not in the business, so opinions are definitely biased.
- It’s not valuable to them. They are not spending money, so they don’t have anything to lose. Feedback from clients who have something to lose is going to be more valuable and more effective.
Understand why you’re selling your services or products
This links back to the advice of selling a solution, but it’s slightly different; you have to understand the motives of you selling your solution.
Cover up the main motives: Is it to make your clients’ life easier? Is it to improve an aspect your clients’ life?
Then, cover the secondary motives: Are you hoping to get more leads for your clients? Do you want to help your clients lift 2x more than what they are lifting right now?
Understanding why you’re selling your services allows you to uncover the pain points and issues of your clients. This knowledge helps you to map out your solutions and your client’s problems – simple, right?
What if you don’t understand what you’re selling?
Then you’re going to sell the wrong product to the wrong crowd. You’re going to sell luxury products at flea markets; sure, you’ll get a few sales here and there but you’re wasting a lot of potential business growth by not having a proper understanding of what you’re selling.
So, if you get rejected, are you selling to the right audience?
Understand that selling in service businesses is mostly about helping and providing value
We’ve covered value a lot above, so we’ll focus more on the helping area here.
In a service business, potential clients want to know that they are getting some sort of help. Therefore, your intent should be focused on trying to help your potential clients.
You know this already, but this tip is just to drill home the point of providing value to your clients.
The best salespeople are great talkers and even better listeners
It’s cool to think of sales as saying magic words that close the sale, but a part that is arguably more important that talking is actually listening.
People want to the point of attention, they want someone to listen to them – that’s what you should give them. Listening makes your potential clients feel that you are paying attention.
When you pay attention, you achieve two things:
- You build your listener’s trust in you
- You gain the knowledge to ask better questions
People meet salespeople who talk non-stop, what happens when they meet someone like who actually listens and pays attention to what they’re talking? They’ll be pleasantly surprised – you actually care about them!
It doesn’t take much to figure out that;
More trust + More attention = More sales
By listening, you’ll also be able to ask better questions to gain more information about your potential client. Questions are a powerful way to extract information as well as influencing someone, more so if you are an expert at using open-ended and close-ended questions.
Next time that you have a meeting, try this out:
Talk less, listen more, and ask questions based off the information that you got from your potential client.
You’d be amazed how well it works.
Crafting an effective sales flow
The flow for landing pages and digital offers that we’ve discussed previously is derived from traditional sales flows.
You’ll read a lot of books and guides on sales flow, but the basic principles behind every one is the same. Of course, you’re free to choose a flow that you’re comfortable or tweak this one to your liking.
Rapport is one of the more important components in your sales flow.
Rapport is all about connecting with your potential client in a way that can build trust and affinity in your business.
Building rapport is often portrayed as smiling everytime and keeping a bubbly atmosphere around the meeting; that’s correct but you don’t have to follow it exactly. All you need to do is to be friendly and not sales-oriented, it’s that easy.
In addition to conveying warmth and friendliness, build rapport by finding something in common with the potential client, and discussing it briefly.
Examples are: someone you both know, a common organization to which you both belong, a common interest like music or sports, or parenthood.
Avoid talking about controversial topics like religion and politics.
Continue building rapport throughout the sales conversation by listening actively to what the other person is saying and responding appropriately. Instead of focusing on telling your prospect all about you and your services, make the conversation about tending to your potential client’s needs.
Another strategy for building rapport is to encourage the potential client to do most of the talking. You should be trying to do only 20% of the talking. There’s something magical (and counterintuitive) about encouraging the other person to do most of the talking.
If you notice that your prospect is talking a lot, you are doing something right! You are building a sense of trust and rapport with your potential client.
Uncover the potential client’s situation/ problem/needs
Before you start talking about the services you offer, ask open-ended questions to uncover exactly what your prospect needs.
These questions encourage long answers, and give you lots of insights about your prospect. Here are some examples:
- “How would you describe the situation you are facing?”
- “What is the hardest part of that situation?”
- “If you could make things different, how would you prefer them to be?”
- “If you were able to make those changes, what else would change for the better?”
- “What kinds of solutions have you already tried?”
Focus, and as you listen, make mental notes about what’s most important to this person. Then, when it’s time for you to offer a solution, you will know exactly how to present your offer to this potential client because you will know exactly what the problem is and how to frame your solution to meet the unique needs of this person.
Propose a solution and describe the benefits
Up until now, you have mostly listened and asked questions. Once you are clear about your potential client’s situation, problem, and needs, you can offer your solutions.
Show how your solution can address the client’s situation. Keep referring to what you know about the client’s needs and focus on the benefits of what you offer.
Watch for over-promising and under-delivering as you describe your solution. Promise what you can actually deliver, and deliver more than you promise.
Preparing to offer a solution includes being ready to respond to an objection. If you find yourself feeling defensive, notice it and set your feelings aside. Replace any defensiveness with curiosity and don’t be insecure about it.
This will allow you to show respect for the client’s perspective, and will continue to build rapport as you uncover what’s really behind the objective and address it calmly.
Treat the objection like a “gift” because it actually is a benefit to you. Use your questioning skills. “Will you tell me more about your concern?” can lead to you addressing the client’s concern and turning the conversation around.
Discuss the next steps
It is a natural progression to describe what you offer and then discuss what needs to happen next. Here are some examples:
- The client needs to talk to the other decision-makers.
- You prepare a written proposal that describes the details of your proposed solution.
- You research more possible solutions and make another appointment.
You want to present the next steps in such a way that the potential client will say “yes” to something. For example, it is clear the client is ready to buy from you, then ask: “Are you ready to finalize the details?”
If it’s clear the client is not ready to buy from you, move the client forward through the sales process by giving them an option to which he/she is compelled to say “yes,” such as “May I call you next Wednesday at 1 pm or Thursday at 5 pm to follow-up on our conversation?”
Ask for client’s buy-in to move forward
If you offered the potential client a next step to which they are compelled to say “yes,” then getting the buy-in is easy. Your sales conversation is nearly over. To get a buy-in, ask a closed-ended question that either implies a “yes” response or allows for a yes-or-no response. Here are examples:
- So, are you looking forward to improving your lead generation or digital ads?
- Are you looking to advertise on Google or Facebook?
Closing low-end and high-end offers
You’ll encounter these two types of offers in your business; both of them use the same principles as a sales flow but with several minor differences,
Closing low-end offers
Closing low-end offers rely on three things:
- It has to be valuable
- It has to be quick and simple
- It has to be a logical part of your sales funnel
A valuable low-end offer
Your offer has to guarantee a good ROI for your clients. Let’s say that you’ve introduced a $79 1-week yoga offer; your client has to see some sort of return from that program be it increased flexibility or an increase in general health.
Of course, expecting results from one week of training is not going to work but what we mean is that low-end offer has to have a value that is equivalent or more than what your clients are spending.
The offer also has to function well on your side. Giving out free trials sounds great, but you have to make sure that your business can sustain your offers without losing too much money and time.
It has to be quick and simple
Everyone wants something that is fast and easy; your offers do not have to be very complicated to close the sales.
The easier and faster your clients can see results, the higher the chances of you closing a high-end offer with the client. This means that your low-end offer does not have to be a 3-month program or a super long and complicated course to set up custom landing pages.
Keep it simple; make your low-end offers last for a week at most if possible, cut off as many steps as possible, and make it easy for your clients to achieve a target.
There’s a reason why people recommend goal setting all the time; the effect of achieving a small goal can be addicting and will make the individual crave for more of the same thing.
An easy way to do this is by literally taking a piece out of your high-end offer and turn that into a low-end offer. We’ve covered this in-depth in our irresistible offers guide, check that out on our blog.
It has to be a logical part of your sales funnel
There’s not much to be said about this expect that your low-end offer has to act as a springboard for other high-value offers in your business.
It also has to act as some sort of introductory offer or “appetiser” to your business model.
Understanding objections and how to overcome them
Objections are anything that stops a customer from buying from you. In this section, we’ll be focusing specifically on why a customer does not buy from you.
Remember, though, overcoming objections is NOT arguing with your potential customer and trying to correct every single of their points. In fact, once you are in a position where you have to go into an argument and counter-argument situation, you have already pretty much lost the sale.
Overcome sales objections before they are raised
The best way to overcome objections is to literally avoid them from coming up. It sounds simple but it can be really difficult if you just starting out; once again, learning how to deal with objections is simply a matter of practice and handling rejections well.
Common sales objections
The obvious starting point is to think through what the objections will be by brainstorming. Common objections to any sale would be:
- Price/Value/Cost – The price is too high against the perceived value; what happens if they spend all this money and don’t get value? They can buy something else with this, why spend it on your solution?
- Time/Logistics – How is it delivered? Does it fit around their planning? Will the results appear in x period of time?
- Credibility/Trust – Can they trust your business? Is the offer really that good? Do they have access to testimonials from your previous clients?
Price is the famous one but is surprisingly one of the easiest to overcome. In fact, most objections come down to risk. Do not underestimate the fear of looking foolish, that is a big risk also for the decision maker.
Overcoming the objections
As we said earlier, the best way to overcome objections is to avoid them outright.
However, here are some tips for you if you want to wrangle your way out of objections.
- Price objections. Ask open-ended questions to get information on why they think it’s too expensive. Questions like “Could you tell me why do you feel that the price is not an option for you” when spoken with the right tone can help you get back on track.You can also ask ROI-based questions such as “If I can get 10 more clients for you in the next 90 days, what would that mean for your business in terms of profits?”; these kinds of questions can help your potential clients see the value in your services.
- Time objections. You may have leads who say that they don’t have enough time or that they don’t think their time is worth the efforts.A good way to overcome this objection is to, once again, demonstrate the value of your offers. You can do this verbally or visually, but you’ll have to convince your leads that spending time working with you is going to generate a positive ROI for them.You can ask questions like “What would it mean to your business if we could double your revenue while cutting down the time spent by a quarter?” Of course, you’ll have to make sure that you can actually deliver on your promises.
- Trust objections. This usually happens when you are a new player in the niche; no one knows about you, so naturally, they are going to have some doubts about your business.To overcome this, you’re going to need to have an amazing introductory offer or a solid portfolio of your previous clients. If you don’t have a portfolio, you can also include some of your previous day-job work or something similar.Testimonials work great by the way and they work even better if you have someone reputable who speaks fondly of you.
Should you discount or lower your price points?
Once you get into discounting and competing on price you are playing a losing game. Your prices can be flexible and be something that you can control, but it should not be your unique selling proposition; you don’t want to be regarded as the “cheap” provider of your niche.
Remember, successful service businesses compete on value, not pricing.
You can do discounts but not for generating sales. Customers who have been with you for a long-time are good candidates to give discounts to, but leads who just knew about you a week ago?
Ditch the discounts.
The moment that you offer discounts to new clients is when you’ll get an influx of clients who pay you less than what you’re worth. You’re basically losing money by offering discounts in early stages.
Lower the risks and doubts of your potential clients
As risk is a huge issue in objections, it is good to have “introductory” or “sample” products where you can demonstrate your value and reliability.
That is why low-end offers are all short term packages that are easy to agree to. Your customers take on a short period with you, like a 1-week program, then that leads to longer term projects when they get value from your services
Remove financial risks with a guarantee. Guarantees can also remove some of the risks for the customer; you can offer money-back guarantees or refunds if your customers are not happy wit your services.
The credibility and reputation of your business is important here; you’ll learn that as you grow, you’re going to be able to command more trust from new clients but it’s going to take some time and effort to achieve that.
That covers the sales part of running a business.
Of course, this guide does not cover everything under the roof about sales, but you’ll have a good grasp on it at the end of this post.
As always, you can contact us if you need help with your business. You can also head over to our blog to read up on more articles like this.
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