I attended a networking event a few weeks ago, where the main speaker was talking about increasing sales through having the right processes in place. Much of the information he was delivering was good and in fact, were simple things for organisations to implement.
The audience consisted mainly of SME organisations, many of whom were owner/MD's, I raised a point at the session around mindset and having the confidence to sell and ask for the business. At the end of the day, you can have all the sales processes you need but if you don't have the confidence to sell to people or ask for the business, then they're pretty much redundant aren't they?
After the session, I was approached by one of attendees who asked me if I could help him to improve his confidence and that of his people in "selling" his business.
The problem for most owner/MD's is that they have set their businesses up from scratch. It has been developed through a word of mouth approach which has meant they've had little selling to do, because as we know, recommendation is the best form of marketing. The sale is almost done and in many cases it's a case of taking the order.
Now, this MD, was getting to the position of having almost exhausted the recommendation market (I don't think that you really ever do that, but that's another article isn't it?) he needed to get out and sell. He had engaged a marketing company that was providing him with leads but he was concerned that he wasn't making the most of them. I asked him why he felt this was the case. He told me that he found the sales aspect "uncomfortable."
I understand this completely. The fact of the matter is that for him, and many others, they get to the point when they have to walk through the invisible curtain, where they stop being the expert and become the sales person. This is where sales guilt comes in. At some point you know you have to ask for the business and you know they're waiting for you to sell them something. You get sweaty palms. Your heart is beating faster. The question is looming. You both know you're going to ask it, you're just not sure when. It's a bit like asking for a date isn't it? What will you feel like if they no?
An example of this, is where we buy shoes. You've tried them on and you like them. You know that the sales person is about to try and add on the shoe cleaner etc. You know it and they know it. They fear being rejected and you fear being asked, because the chances are you'll feel sorry for them and add yet more shoe cleaning stuff to the EU shoe cleaning stuff mountain you have at home. It's a conundrum. We get defensive and don't we and they become an apologist for what they're trying to sell you. They don't say the words but you can feel the unspoken "I'm sorry to have to do this" before launching into the benefits of having the shoe cleaner. It's embarrassment all around isn't it?
The fact of the matter is that nobody likes rejection do we? The fact is that not only are they rejecting you, but they're rejecting your business too. Your baby that you've developed from nothing, cherished it through it's formative years and spent hours making sure it meets the needs of your customers.
However, how do you know they're going to reject you? Shakespeare wrote, "Nothing is good nor bad, only thinking makes it so." The thing to think about is buying signals and whether they've given you any. Now, buying signals can come in a variety of forms. Are they extending the discussion? Do they take your calls? Have they given you their mobile number, rather than just the office number? Are they agreeing with what you're saying? These are just a few. Potentially there are countless ways in which they will give you buying signals. You just have to look for them. It's a bit like a date. At the end of the evening, if they quickly shake your hand and leave, it's not gone well, however, if the hang around and keep the chat going then maybe, just maybe, it's gone well.