Early in my sales career, I thought about how I would approach business development. I needed to decide what approach would best guide my path. Being new to sales, and with so many tactics and techniques being touted within books and trainings, it was difficult to decide which approach to take. I took a step back, and what I came up with was simple. I believed in its principals, and it wasn’t routed in technique, tactics, or motivational jargon. My approach? “Sell like you’d want to be sold to.” Though simple, it had a profound impact on my sales career.
What exactly does it mean to “sell like you’d want to be sold to?” Inherently, it may be different for everyone since we all have varying thoughts on how we want to be sold to. For me, it represented three fundamental elements that gave me insight on how to approach sales. People want to buy from someone that knows what they’re talking about. Therefore, the first element is to know your offering.
1. Know Your Offering
It’s the sales professional’s responsibility to thoroughly understand what their company offers, and what it can and cannot do. The best clients are often the most sophisticated buyers. A sophisticated buyer can quickly determine if a sales professional knows their company’s capabilities, or if they are winging it. The more knowledgeable you are with your offering, the easier it is to explain its value. Additionally, you need to understand your customer’s alternative options. Who are the direct competitors and substitutes that your buyer may choose instead of your offering?
2. Understand Your Competition
Not all companies are created equal. As a buyer, you know that. As a seller, you must embrace that. Your company won’t be the best fit for everyone, nor will your competition. Once you have a comprehensive understanding of your company’s capabilities, it will help define the customers you should target. When you possess a solid understanding of alternative products/services, you may properly contrast the benefits of your offering versus competition. The buyer is not an expert in your field, you are. Therefore, take the initiative to educate them on their options as appropriate.
Let’s use buying a smartphone as an example. During this process, if the sales professional only spoke of one phone’s features, it may feel like a pitch. However, if the sales professional spoke to the product’s features in contrast to other smartphones, the benefits would be more meaningful through having a basis of which to compare. What if your customer doesn’t need a smartphone but a tablet instead? Until you know what your client needs, you may be covering topics which are not of interest to your buyer.
3. Listen To Your Client’s Needs
Conversational selling provides a road map to meeting your prospect’s needs. Too often, sales professionals assume they already know their prospect’s needs. Whether they do or not, a client wants to be heard. So would you if you were the buyer. They likely have areas they will want to focus on in your meeting. Asking questions allows you to understand the most meaningful aspects of your offering to discuss in the meeting from your client’s perspective. This does not mean that you don’t cover other facets of your product/service at some point in the process. However, by addressing their most critical needs first, you are respectful of their time and earn additional attention to illustrate the rest of your offering. The insight they provide will help guide you to fulfilling their needs and closing business.
Prior to buying into the “sell like you’d want to be sold to” philosophy, you must first believe in the premise, and also understand the potential results. For me, the potential results were realized when I wrote $156MM in new business, and successfully broke a record where one-year of personal production was greater than the total company revenue of over half the markets competitors. My advice, as someone that has already walked the path, is work to continuously learn and improve. When you do so, you become the seller from whom you personally would love to buy!