Authored by: Chris Flickinger
Eat what you kill, 100% commission based, go get’em, hunter mentality – this has been my life for years! It’s hardcore sales. It’s not easy; and, there are no guarantees except a lot of risk and hard work ahead. If you can stomach it, there’s tremendous reward to be gained! That is, if you learn a fundamental sales principle. And NO, it’s not the ABCs of selling principle (Always Be Closing). In fact, it’s the opposite!
Every titan of industry has sales experience on their resume. Sales is the best proving ground for want-to-be entrepreneurs and executives. And, if they’re still in the game, then they’re still selling. But, compare their “sales styles” to your own. I’d bet there’s a significant difference, and it’s called subtly.
Look, the great business leader aren’t softies. They’re hard-nosed, thick skinned, shrewd business men and women. Their eyes and ears are uniquely tuned-in to finding opportunities. Their minds are creatively devising ways to make a deal happen. Tenacious… absolutely. Resilient… certainly. But certainly not the pesky, obnoxious, product peddling, high pressure, “Always Be Closing” transactional sales persona that turns people off or away. Yes, the biggest difference between them and you in sales probably has less to do with drive, hustle and passion (you’ve both got that) and much more to do with angles of “approach.”
Psycho-metric research has given us unique insights into the minds of people and it turns out 7 out of 10 people hate sales people. Okay, that’s a little strong, so let me be more specific. Approximately 70% of the general population comprises of people who do not want to be highly pressured into making a decision, rushed into saying yes, being ‘sold’ to or buying the newest, latest, fanciest product. And, we also know that a certain, unique segment of this group views every sales person as a paid propagandist and are thus not to be trusted.
Look, we agree that sales people have to be tenacious, resilient, driven and passionate. But, 7 out of 10 customers you met are immediately turned-off by that pesky, product peddling, Always Be Closing approach. So, how can you sell more, sell faster and improve your sales success? Simple… stop selling all the time.
When you – personally – are in the market to buy a vehicle, how do you go about it? Based on the science, here’s how 70% tend to buy:
- First, they look around casually – see a friend’s vehicle, a TV commercial, a car on the road.
- Next-up, a few late nights in bed investigating on the internet – pictures, reviews and ratings.
- Then, they strategically drive to a dealership when it’s closed – so not to be bothered – and examine a few models.
- Eventually, they head-in to the dealership – when it’s open – meet a sales person who shows them the selected vehicles and lets them go on test drives.
- Now, the worst part… the back-and-forth over terms, money, extras and add-ons.
- Lastly – perhaps – they’ve just bought it and drove off the lot in their new vehicle.
Did you notice what 7 of 10 people did? They took their time – and took unique measures to avoid your “Always Be Closing” approach. So, how do you think 70% of customers will respond to you and your product – especially if it’s not a tangible product? If you want to sell more, then stop selling all the time. Most people are not buying on the spot! Your goal, instead, should be to subtly assist them in moving through the buying process faster.
If you’ve been in sales for more than a hot-second, you know about the “sales process.” But, the fatal mistake sales professionals can make is trying to condense this entire process into one, 20-minute conversation with a prospect. STOP THIS! It positions you as that pesky, transactional, product peddler.
“But Chris, doesn’t that pesky sales approach work?” Yes, about 20-30 percent of customers have no problem with the Always Be Closing approach (ummm… does a 20-30 percent closing ratio sound familiar?). Now, if you’re looking to improve your sales ratio and success, then you need to take a more subtle approach with more prospects. And, this is the profound moment when you shift from transactional sales (i.e. product peddling) to consultative selling (become a trusted advisor).
Your goal is to better categorize your customers along 3 unique stages. In other words, meet them where they are and aim to move them to the next stage. This takes keen observation, patience and subtlety. And, it will help avoid wasting precious time with the wrong person, pursuing the wrong goal. Here are the 3 unique sales stages:
Shopping – just looking around; not ready to buy -> gain their trust through helpfulness and advising.
Buying – willing to purchase, narrowed choices but investigating -> get them to say, “Yes, this one.”
Negotiating – they want your product, but it has to be a good deal -> creatively close the deal.
As a highly successful sales professional and business owner, I “get” the “Always Be Closing” mindset. I understand the spirit behind it, and yes, I want my sales force to have a ‘go-get’em attitude.” But, I don’t want their over-eagerness and aggressiveness to cost them sales with 70% of the population. So, I preach this… “To sell more, to more people, be seen first as helpful, not a hunter.”
Lastly, here’s a great old sales anecdote that drives home the point: Two bulls are on top of the hill – a young bull and an old bull. The young bull, full of energy and instinct catches the scent of a herd of cows down below in the valley. His mind shifts into “go mode” and with excitement he says to the older bull, “I’m going to run down there and have my way with one of those cows!” But, the older bull – much more subtle in his approach – calmly replies, “You go ahead, I’ll be over in a little bit and have my way with the entire herd.”