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The title “salesperson” has a pretty stereotypical connotation to it. We tend to envision the fast-talking hot shots that’ll do anything to close in a cutthroat, dog-eat-dog world. It’s a picture that’s reminiscent of the Glengarry Glen Ross or Wolf of Wall Street characters we’ve seen, intoxicated by the high-stakes, high-reward environment. While this is what we think sales might be, most people in the industry know that’s not the case.
The world of sales is changing drastically. More than ever, consumers have access to an unlimited amount of information, including social media, online reviews and word of mouth. This transparency is making sales more honest as we focus less on “tricking” people and more on building relationships. Despite how much pressure we have to get the deal done yesterday, the sales process has actually gotten a lot easier — all you need is a few adjustments to your approach.
Play the long game.
Any successful salesperson can tell you that this is a patient person’s game. Long gone are the days of “sign now and I’ll throw in the air freshener on the house” as consumers have better access to information as well as where your competitors currently stand. Nowadays shoppers take more time making decisions, which means your sales approach should follow suit.
The key is quality over quantity. I personally would rather have one person who spends $100 at a store than try my hardest to get 10 people to spend $10 at a store. Why? Because the $100 person has already pledged their brand allegiance to me. This means they’re going to engage with me more on social media, tell their friends about my product and continue to put me at the top of their funnel.
A couple of years ago The Wall Street Journal conducted a study on how the slower someone shops, the more likely they’re willing to spend. This is because consumers feel more engaged in a brand as it feels they’re truly being taken care of. This provides an opportunity for people to learn your story, mission and what separates you from the competition. Remember, this is about building a community, not customers, so take the time to develop genuine relationships.
Have actual conversations with your customers.
Whether you’re doing B2B or B2C sales, take the time to talk to your customers without pushing a deal. I know it’s our instinct to have in the back of our minds, “When’s the right time to ask?” or “Oh, I’ll plug in X product/service here,” but that’s being pushy. These people are here to make an investment into you, so invest into them.
Your first primary talking point should always be about what brought them here. Ask questions so you can get to know their motivations and needs, as well as what they do. If nothing else, this is an excellent opportunity to acquire feedback on your market, which is a pretty big advantage in itself. People are interested in learning about the community you call home, so welcome them in by being an educator.
Now, part of being an educator is telling the truth, so having an honest approach is crucial. If your company doesn’t have something a client wants or a competitor might serve their needs better, tell them that. While yes, it might seem counterintuitive, you’d be surprised how much success it can bring. A huge portion of closing a deal is building a sense of comfort and eventually loyalty, and even if you lose a battle, that doesn’t mean you’re going to lose the war.
Be genuine throughout all your social channels.
Perhaps one of the biggest mistakes I see companies make is by using their social media channels as a means of spamming direct advertising. While yes, social media can be considered “free advertising,” no one is willing to engage with this type of content. After all, we use social media as a tool to escape from the hordes of advertising we see on a daily basis, not introduce ourselves to more of it.
Your social channels goal should be to build relationships, not sales. This is your chance to build trust by showing your human side, as well as the types of brands and people you admire. That’s not to say you shouldn’t take the proper steps in having a pipeline via your social channels, but if nothing else, this is the hub of your community. These people want to be a part of your story, so let them help write it.