Getting sales is so easy, right?
After all, you’ve got a great product or service that you’ve poured your heart and soul into, which works like a dream and offers fantastic value to everyone… Trouble is, getting sales actually isn’t easy – is it? Because having all of the above doesn’t guarantee people will be queuing round the block. Finding the right people to buy from you at the right price is an art. It’s a subtle blend of getting many things right, with a healthy dose of good old fashioned persuasion to seal the deal.
So who wants to know the secret recipe?
I have identified 10 simple steps that you can follow, which in my experience can make all the difference. I’d like to share them with you. Interested? Well then grab yourself a drink and welcome to the party…
Step 1 – Know who you are talking to
You’d never arrive at a party without knowing at least some of the people who are going to be there right? So do your research and find out about the people you want to hang out with. Remember your product is not for ‘everyone’. Everyone is no-one. The more clearly we know who we are talking to, whether on line or face to face, the more easily we will be able to connect with them. Get really clear not only on the age, gender, demographics of your target audience, but ask yourself where they might go on holiday? What do they have for breakfast? Which paper do they read? What do they wear? Where do they shop?
Do you recognise ‘your people’ when you see them?
Step 2 – Catch their attention
Once you’ve got to know your people, then you need to get their attention. Now pole dancing round the lamp is one way of getting noticed, but probably not how you’d want to be remembered, so think about how people get your attention at parties. Some are great at dancing, some make eye contact, some come and chat and some you just bump into. There are many ways to get people’s attention but generally we don’t like to be cornered by the party bore who goes on and on about how amazing they are!
Playing loud music and having flashing images in your web site is not going to appeal to bookish introverts, but teens might love it (which is why you need to know who your people are first). Simplicity and stillness is as attention grabbing as colour and noise. If the first way doesn’t work, have a go at another way. Remember that whilst you want to catch people’s attention, you want to do it authentically. You need to be you. Some of the rugby club songs caught my attention at University but it didn’t mean I wanted to date a rugby player.
Pay attention to what grabs your attention and gain inspiration from others.
Step 3 – Ask open questions
When you’ve got their attention, find out about them. Ask how they are? What they think? What they feel? What they like and don’t like. Ask questions and be genuinely interested. There’s no point asking about football at a party if you hate it; the listener will see through it and go find someone else to talk to.
Ask about things that are of interest to both of you.
Step 4 – Listen and listen some more
There is nothing worse than finding yourself having a conversation with someone, only to notice their eyes checking out everyone else in the room behind you. This isn’t a sales pitch where you are extracting information for your own sake, this is a conversation where you show you are interested in what your people want and need so you can serve them. Listen to what they say, reflect it back, check you understand, empathise. The more you know and understand your people the more they will feel they know you. Let people know you are listening. Reply to tweets, messages and emails.
Step 5 – Trust
There are some people at parties we have small talk with, and never see or hear from again. This is not who you want to be. We want to leave this party with new friends and people to hang out with. Listening and asking open questions helps build trust. Think of where you get your hair cut, your car fixed, who looks after your kids? We go back to people we trust. You are building a relationship here, whether on line or face to face, people do business with people they trust.
Be honest …
Step 6 – We are more likely to be persuaded by someone who is like us
I remember a friend inviting his girlfriend of 3 days to a party where the dress code was black jeans, DM’s and more black. She came in white and pink heels and they left the party pretty quickly, as she felt out of place. She could have stayed, she could have got chatting, asked questions, got interested in other people – then they would have seen her, not her outfit.
Find something in common with your people. If you are a white, straight woman trying to connect with a black, bi woman, find out what you have in common. Do you have kids? Are you single? If you’re a coach and you’re trying to persuade a manufacturing firm to buy your services, find some common ground? Do your research into what makes them tick and understand their language, so you can communicate in a way which works for them. There’s no point talking about ‘feelings and transformation’ to people who like ‘doing and getting on with things’.
Use their language to build rapport.
Step 7 – Make your message understandable – loss or gain condition
As a teenager, we either went to parties because we really wanted to have fun (gain) or because we thought that if we didn’t, then other people would think we were sad and square (loss). No one wants to part with money unless there is something in it for them. Charities persuade us to hand over money to prevent crisis, starvation, abuse – this is the ‘loss condition’. When we give money to charity we feel good as we have helped make something better (gain). Think about how your people will genuinely lose out, if they don’t come to you?
No threats though – people can see through it. If you are cheaper, say it. If you are expensive but have years of skills and experience, say it, because they could go somewhere else, but they wouldn’t get what you can offer. What problem can you solve for them? How can you help them with a pain in their life?
What are the advantages of being one of YOUR people?
Step 8 – Credibility
Tara could persuade me to go to a Northern Soul all-nighter. Clare could persuade me to go to Brazil.
Because Tara can dance Northern Soul and Clare lived in Brazil. They have credibility.
People are persuaded by people with credibility. If you have qualifications, let people know. If you have worked with people and organisations people will recognise, let them know. If you have got great testimonials, let people know. Even if you’ve changed fields, your skills, status and experience from your old work life still matter, let people know about them.
Credibility is built by actions. So do what you say you will do, when you say you will do it.
Step 9 – Follow up and stay in touch
So you’ve met all these great new people at the party who’ve handed over their emails, phone numbers or Facebook connections. Now follow them up. You’re not a teenager playing hard to get, you don’t have to wait 3 days before calling. Follow up and get in touch straight away. Show you remember them. Show you enjoyed getting to know them. If you don’t, someone else will and they’ll forget about you.
Build on that first contact, and develop, grow and nature your relationships.
Step 10 – Know when to quit
So you went to that party, you met all those people, now you’ve invited them to your party and you’re home alone eating all the crisps by yourself and feeling sad. Don’t. Not everyone is for you. If you’ve done all of the above and the people you think should be your people are not joining your party, then they’re not your people. It’s not that you’re wrong or that they’re wrong, you’re just not a good match.
So know when to politely walk away and find new people to hang out with.
Fight for your right to party
So it’s time to grab a taxi home, but as a last thought, remember that persuading customers to buy is just like partying. It’s about finding people to hang out with who you ‘get’ and who ‘get you’. It’s about creating win-wins and on-going relationships. Relationships take time, there’s no rush, enjoy yourself and go with the rhythm.
How do you treat the sales process? I’d love to know.
photo credit: deathtothestockphoto