The ‘great’ art of selling is about earning and keeping your client’s trust. In business or commerce, there is nothing greater than the feeling of completing that successful sale.
By successful, we refer the whole process: from convincing the customer that your product or service will meet his/her long or short-term needs after listening carefully to their requirements through with thorough discovery; the client making the payment without hassles; all the way to the delivery of the goods; and finally the customer acknowledging and thanking you for it with the hopes of coming back.
A successful sale is a step-by-step process and must have all the above elements. Anything short of that is paramount to a quick-fix or even a scam – it is lazy salespeople that give the trade a bad reputation.
Granted, not all sales interactions turn out to be complete successes as elements of the above process could be stymied by aspects out of the control of the salesman such as the client’s lack of funds, delivery delays or a faulty product leading to the tainting of your service or brand.
Some of the most successful sales are even conducted by faceless agents. Once, while based in Johannesburg, we sold a product (owned by a US company but like every other product these days, was mass produced in China) and had it delivered from New York to Cape Town via air-freight based on a demand (order) that was placed on a then operational website. The actual sales were brokered via correspondence by email and phone.
Luckily, the product (and delivery) quality was good enough not to warrant a face-to-face visit, though in those days having Skype for Business would have been a great resource to at least give ‘a face’ to the sales rep. They were, however, willing to deal with the agent several times without having met them personally based on the quality of the (medical) product and the vote of confidence and guarantees provided throughout the intensive sales interactions.
This little anecdote proves that it doesn’t matter what you sell, if the product is of good quality, and meets all (compliance) requirements including the recent GDPR law – the sale actually becomes the easy part. One, however, still would require a little bit (and the right kind) of presentation skills to position the product or service adequately enough to execute the sale.
There is no real art to selling – we all do it all the time without realizing it. From the time we apply to a kindergarten or high school, to university and finally to all the jobs in our working career.
As salespeople, we must present ourselves (our unique skills and character) and persuade a ‘buyer’ to take us on. This is also something no automated sales agent or Chatbot can do and is an area that Artificial Intelligence (AI) will not beat us on.
And just like a brand, everything we do is intended to enhance our value and the more we beef-up our brand (with educational, mentorship and technical qualifications), the better our brand and the more demand for your ‘product’.
But back to selling. We sell people ideas: something as simple as convincing your mate to meet at the pub after work or your girls to join you for a weekend spa takes skilful persuasion especially if they had other plans or options. That is essentially what sales is about – persuading a buyer to choose your product or service over that of others using tools such as the consumer black box.
Such persuasion obviously can be genuine or fraudulent. Those salespeople trained by their leader Jordan Belfort as illustrated in the 2013 Wolf of Wall Street movie are a testimony to how persuasion can be used effectively when capitalizing on with an inherent human trade – greed. Being truthful, however, (even if it means letting go of a sale) will determine whether you get repeat customers – something most successful salespeople make use of boost their conversion rates and pipelines.
As debunqed, we tend to follow unconventional salespeople who use unorthodox but effective methods. These are not necessarily the textbook style of selling but will help to inspire you to address the potential client’s needs honestly. Such ‘on the ground’ learning is done with the help of a mentor. Shadowing one or two mentors that are passionate about what they do can rub off a few skills that can supplement traditional sales theory – which should not be completely ignored.
Such revenue-multiplying potential that repeat-customers can provide for your sales portfolio or pipeline beats getting a quick-fix by conning people no matter how big the ‘score’ is. What you should be doing as a salesman is gaining your customers’ trust whilst solving their problem.