More disclosure: I have two websites, two blogs, an e-zine called “Rock Your Sales,” a company Facebook page and a Twitter account.
Obviously, I write a lot about selling.
But I don’t think you can learn to sell from a book or other written material!
This became clear for me in my work last week with a new coaching client in Tanzania -- a smart, capable, highly motivated lady who is determined to succeed. She’s clear that what she needs is a better approach to the conversations she has with people who may buy what she has to sell, as well as in conversations with people who can refer business to her. It’s also clear that she cares – her goal is to “help people as well as earn an income.” And she’s worked hard researching and fine tuning her target market, testing internet strategies with her beautiful website, and providing information to people who may steer business to her. She seems primed for selling success.
But despite all that, she reports “I am not good at sales” and the subject of selling “gives me a cold sweat.”
I did suggest she read three sales books. And then she got back in touch with me. Still no sales. I suspected that, among other things, she might be having a challenge finding The Courage To Ask. So I suggested some coaching with a focus on sales strategies. I proposed that we spend 15 minutes on the phone together at no charge, and if she was favorably impressed, that she buy an hour with me.
She bought the hour, and reported immediately feeling more confident!
From the major points in an email summary I sent to her after that call:
1. I recommend that you stop worrying that you’re irritating people. (What, she didn't learn that from the books? Guess not. She needed a well-thought-out keep in touch strategy that minimized the chance that people felt irritated at her.)
From the text of my email after the Coaching Call: “Some people may be irritated, that’s true, but it’s not personal. They may be irritated due to the fact that you interrupted them with a phone call, or because of other events in their lives. Don’t let it pierce your heart. Instead, believe that the people you’re calling are good people, kind people, and people who want to be aware of opportunities in your industry. Your offering is a wonderful new thing they’ll want to know about. And if and when they brush you off, ask if they would like to receive updates, remember to follow-up with an email confirming that, and then send them something at least once per quarter!”
2. Don’t argue with prospects. (What, that’s not obvious? Nope!) If a prospect says, “Just send me the information,” don't say “but” or try to argue. Instead say, “Of course, (name), I’m happy to send you the information (try to use his exact words). I should mention, though, that if I knew a bit more about your situation, I’d be able to send you just the right information. May I pose just a couple of questions?” If he says no, say, “Understand, (name), I’m sending you the information right now. Is that firstname.lastname@example.org?” (wait for reply) “Thank you, (name)!”
3. If people are unkind to you, consider just letting them go in peace, and turning your attention to people with whom you might actually enjoy doing business. (What, let a prospect go? Yep. Some of them are more trouble than they’re worth!) It’s only people with anemic sales efforts who feel compelled to close, close, close. If you have a healthy pipeline, letting one prospect go so you can focus on others may be a quick way to get to your happy place! Letting a difficult prospect go in peace is an especially worthwhile strategy if their buying from you will mean that you will need to interact with them again, as is the case when you provide services, as opposed to just shipping them a product!
There’s no substitute for knowledge, of course. You can get a solid background in sales principles from reading books and other media (IF the information is up-to-date, and from a credible source). But sometimes all the knowledge in the world won’t help you when you’re having an emotional reaction. Selling is a discipline – it’s a subject about which there is a substantial body of knowledge. But selling is also an emotional subject.
And to deal with that aspect of it, consider working with a Sales Coach.