I know; it's the fourth quarter and we are all trying to make our numbers for the year. The marketing messages are flying around like ragweed in September. However, too many conversations with my friend, sales coach Ken Cheatham, has made me cranky with the one-size-fits-all selling approach used by many today, especially online marketers. There's the "let-me-show-you-how-to-make-six figures" secret sellers, and the "don't-listen-to-any-of-those-people-it-doesn't-work-I'm-different" people. We are frantically pitching to the masses, and I suspect fouling out more often than not.
To differentiate your sales strategy from the myriad of magic money-makers around, I want to remind you of the basics:
1. Prospecting: This is doing the work of finding the people who sincerely need what you are selling. Throwing a cookie-cutter sales pitch to hundreds of people on the internet may occasionally net you a sale, but carefully getting to know potential clients will likely yield better results.
2. Listening: Will your standard approach work, or does your potential client need something different? I've found that sales people are able to talk long periods of time without stopping (it seems without even breathing sometimes). A different approach might be to ask, "What are your needs? How can I help you?" Unfortunately many of the "buy my program" marketing plans use a one-size-fits-all approach because there is no provision for listening. What would happen if you invited potential clients to a webinar to tell you what they need, instead of you telling them what you think they need?
3. Honesty: If you can help them, tell them how. If you can't, admit that and connect them with someone who can. This opens the door to an important, and overlooked aspect of selling: building rapport. In a world where authenticity is sacrificed for numbers, the business owner who builds rapport will create a client list and relationships that bring repeat business and referrals.
4. Follow through: Was the order delivered on time? Was it what the client expected? Is the product or system working as planned? Stay in touch. Continue to build the relationship. Be open to honest feedback that may not feel so good and resist the urge to "clap back" that is so prevalent in our society. People still prefer to do business with those they like.
While these principles are not new, the payoff of approaching the sale of your product or service using newer marketing strategies, and the emotional intelligence involved in traditional sales will distinguish your business and create long-term success.