Do people still buy people in this online age dominated by social media? It’s probably open to question given the remote nature of some sales interactions. However, personality and tone of voice still play important roles even when it comes to social presence and your website. Your Facebook page can help prospective customers understand more about you, your team and your business and the more personal side of what you do e.g. have your staff recently raised money for charity?
Your LinkedIn profile informs potential customers about your work, skills, experience and background. If you’ve posted articles, it shows them that you know your stuff. Staff profiles on your website tell web visitors who your team is and the people behind the business. That’s especially true when you have pictures and videos.
This is all part of the sales process since, these days, potential customers don’t just check out your website. They take a look at your social presence to reassure themselves they’re dealing with a good outfit.
So, perhaps it’s unfair to suggest that the expression ‘people buy people’ doesn’t stretch to the online world.
However, where the need to sell yourself really counts is where person to person interaction is at its highest i.e. face to face and on the phone. Face to face could be at a new business meeting, at an industry event or exhibition or a networking function. On the phone, it could be as part of a cold call, during a call that results from an inbound enquiry or during a customer call or customer service discussion.
In all of the above circumstances, personality plays a significant role. Customers don’t buy from and engage with people they don’t like or trust. So, shouldn’t the first objective of any personal interaction be to build that trust and level of mutual understanding and rapport? Why is it then that many sales people I meet struggle to develop those all-important relationships?
Whilst not every customer will become a lifelong friend, the skill of a sales person is to very quickly work out how to come across more like a trusted adviser and less like a salesman or telesales cold caller. That comes down to rapport skills. Perhaps this is more difficult when selling volume based commoditised services where the calls tend to be more scripted and sometimes shorter. But when the process is for higher value sales, personality and engagement are crucial success factors. Below are our 5 Tips on Selling Yourself in Addition to your Services.
1. Don’t sound or look like a salesman
Consider your target audience. How do they dress? How do they sound? It’s well known that mirroring is a rapport building technique that works. How can you make your initial engagement more like the kind of people they want to associate with? In the old days, a navy suit with a red tie may have worked. Those days have long gone and we live in a café culture with open necked shirts and matching jackets and jeans. It depends on the sector of course but think about those vital first few seconds in front of your prospective buyer. What does your dress sense say about you and your company? On the phone, what does your opening line tell the buyer about you and your products?
2. Don’t pitch like every other sales person
Too often on the phone, cold callers kick off with a stiff scripted intro that goes something like ‘ hi bob, how are you today? The reason for my call is to introduce our services to you and see if we can be of assistance…’
Try something different. Don’t sound the same as the last dozen cold callers that pitched their wares. Think of something more original. Focus on their needs not your products. Make the call engaging not boring.
When you’re face to face, find some common ground at the start of the meeting to break the ice. Make sure it’s not contrived. It has to be genuine. But, you need to interrupt the pattern of ‘seller-buyer’ where it starts with something akin to ‘so, tell me what you can do for me’. Whilst you need to get down to the business so as to not waste their time, you also need to find some way to engage early on. I typically try to find something outside of work to talk about by either looking for cues and clues in their office environment. I attended a meeting yesterday where they had Arsenal FC crests embroidered onto the seats in reception. I commented on those and immediately found out my prospect was a Tottenham supporter. We chatted about football before the business part of the meeting. It eased my path to building the relationship before we discussed what we can do for him.
3. Learn to relax
Sales pitches are sometimes delivered very quickly due to nerves. We all get nervous. On the phone, this can come across as garbled messages. Rushing tends to suggest someone that doesn’t know their stuff and isn’t confident in themselves. So, try to moderate your pace whenever you’re speaking either face to face or on the phone. Slow down. Take a deep breath if you’re feeling nervy. That doesn’t mean that you should rein back the positive energy you’re feeling in the sales environment. You need to sound energetic and convincing. But, the more you relax, the more confident you will sound. And the more you can concentrate on what the prospect is saying.
4. Get your language right
Language relates both to jargon where appropriate (but don’t overdo it) and to the way you position and describe what you do. People in specific industries respond to sales people that demonstrate understanding. Part of that is about knowing the commonplace industry acronyms and expressions for the buyers to whom you’re speaking. In marketing, everyone knows about USP for Unique Selling Point or Proposition. You don’t need to spell it out.
Also, try to amplify the message by using words that emphasise what you do. For example, perhaps you could say that using your services saves customers a tremendous amount of time or money. Or perhaps it generates a terrific saving in wastage. Or maybe some of your customers were amazed by what it did to propel their business. Overdoing the superlatives is not the way to go. But you definitely want to sound compelling and convincing. Adding just the right about of emphasis strengthens your case over others whose message sounds weaker than yours!
5. Be genuinely interested in them
I’m often asked how to get prospects to be interested in the sales pitch. My answer typically turns the question on its head. I stress that it’s much more about the seller than the buyer. If you want a buyer to be interested in what you have to say, you need to do two things. (1) Show genuine interest in them, their challenges and needs and (2) Position what you say in those terms. It’s no good just telling a prospect what you do and what the service does. They need to understand what it does for them. You therefore need to work on questioning techniques and actively listen to the answers. It also means you need to learn to summarise and clarify so that they feel you’re genuinely considering what they need, what they’ve said and how and whether what you have applies for them.
These tips will ensure that you make the most of every sales interaction. If you want to close more business, you will struggle to do that without having developed some kind of relationship with your buyer. So work on yourself as part of the sales process and you’ll develop more business.
If you’d like to know how GSA Business Development can help generate growth for your business or book one of our new business development and marketing strategy workshops, contact us now on 0845 658 8192 or use the form on this site.
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