Ahhhh yes, sales: the one industry that almost every person has a negative opinion or emotion about however, is a skillset that every individual has practiced at some point or another since birth.
To my point, think about the last time you made a strong effort to have someone else see something from your perspective; that is sales. For example, if you're in a relationship with someone, casual or married, you have undoubtedly tried to sell something to your partner before but it may have come in the form of an idea. For example, where to go for dinner, which movie to watch, what color drapes to buy or which appliance or furniture to furnish the house with, are all ways that we've made an effort to have the other person see things our way. We are constantly selling and sometimes even to ourselves.
Children are by far some of the greatest salespeople on earth, just ask any parent. Children have two things working for them when it comes to sales: they have a boundless amount of energy and they are just simply relentless! Being a father of 5 children I can attest to my own kids being very tenacious, persistent, and at times quite compelling.
When it comes to professional sales the idea is to help people see a need that they may not have realized they had. And this was certainly the case during my sales career in the insurance industry. During this time when I would meet a prospective client for the first time I would often hear, "Oh, you salespeople are all the same. Don't think you're gonna come to my house and sell me something!" The truth is, the first "sale" I had to make in these situations was to have the individual see my perspective that all salespeople are not the same and that I was different from whatever their perception of a sales person was.
The reality is, my official title was licensed insurance "advisor" not licensed insurance salesman or salesperson. Although the function or activity of what I did was sales, I was first an advisor. My primary concern was to help people identify a need that was lacking in their portfolio without any high pressure, coercion or scare sales tactics. Now, I am not naive, I know people like this exist in the industry, but that was never in my nature and still isn't to this day.
No one wants to deal with the slick sales guy who's only concerned with his bottom line. Of course, every time I sat with a prospective client I wanted the sale but, I understood that a sale comes as a reward for providing great service or value and advising my client properly. So, this brings me to where we are, I wrote this article to give you a few tips on how you can be slicker than the sales guy.
Before we get started remember this: Not ALL sales are final. That said, the needs of the client or customer (YOU) always come first and as the customer you must always remember that YOU are in the driver's seat.
Now let's begin.
Tip #1 - Begin with the end in mind
As the consumer, you are always in control however, many customers feel as though they are not. But why? The truth of the matter is that we advisors are good at pointing out what is lacking and often times it's the reality of a person's situation that ultimately makes "the sale". In our industry we're trained to begin with the end in mind so as a consumer I'd recommend you do the same.
I've heard so many times over my career, "That's fine, you can come on over but I'm not going to buy anything!" Then once the meeting is completed I'm walking out of the home with a cheque in my briefcase. It didn't always happen that way of course because the industry of sales is a numbers game, but, most often it's the guy or gal who makes such a statement that DO end up buying. So first, don't be so against the idea of making a decision to purchase on the first exposure because if it makes sense to you don't be so tied to the idea that you're "being sold". A product or service is being rendered and if it fills a need you have, then that to me is a buy and sell relationship, or a win-win situation, and works for both parties.
I digress, much like we do, you should begin with the end in mind. Know what you're willing and not willing to do or, at least have an idea and if it doesn't feel right, don't do it.
Advisors advise and have a knack for leading you to where they want you to go. The slick sales guy is typically pushy and hungry to get to the end of the meeting where he can "close the deal" and run outta the house before the ink dries.
Tip#2 - Always Be Closing or ABC
There are varying levels of closing. For example, "If you can qualify for this program Mr. Prospect, which of these programs do you feel may suit your needs best?" would be considered a soft close.
Physiologically we're getting you to prepare in your mind (and at the same time drop us a little hint) as to which one of the options you're most likely to select. Soft closes are very subtle and often time's consumers don't even notice it. The soft closes are very important and typically are peppered throughout the entire presentation. The reason is, if we find any objections when we come to the hard closes, the earlier soft closes are the pressure points we'll make reference to. See why these are slick?
You can do the same and "Always Be Closing" as well by using soft closes for your own serve. "Well, IF I were to qualify for this program Mr. Slick Sales Guy I may be most likely to choose this one however, I always use a two-step process with any decision I make meaning, I'm definitely going to want to meet with you on this again another time when I'm fully satisfied with what you've shown me... but, please do continue."
Sales is all physiology.
Tip#3 - Get to objection 3 and using silence is key
You'll know when you're working with a "sleezy sales guy" because you'll begin to feel uncomfortable with the direct pressure he continues to apply. It's been my experience (being the customer) that sleezy sales guys often don't let up until the customer is irritated and they certainly don't use the power of silence. Silence is golden on a sales call but it requires patience. This is not necessarily a common practice in the world of sales however, this is a methodology that I subscribed to during my sales career. Essentially what this means is I would take 3 of the client's objections and summarize them again. Here's an example.
Throughout our meeting Mr. Prospect gives the following objections:
Out of these particular objections there is only one that essentially ends the possibility of a sale and that is, "I don't have the money right now" and even that can be up for debate. What I would do is repeat all objections in the following manner:
"So, Mr. Prospect I can totally appreciate the need to speak with your wife (spouse) however, assuming that your wife loves the idea, what other reason would you have not to move forward today?"
Then, I shut up! No matter how uncomfortable the dead air gets, I don't say a word.
"OK, time I think is something we all want when we're making a buying decision but truthfully, you've been thinking about it long before tonight otherwise I wouldn't be here. So, what would you say is the real reason?"
"OK. Hey listen, if you don't have the money today, I completely understand. However, just so that I'm clear, it's not that you don't like what I've shown you here today but simply the inability to pay for it today. So, assuming that your wife supports the idea, and you had a bit more time to consider your options and money not being an issue, when would you like to move forward?"
Notice that these are all open ended questions meaning, it causes the conversation to continue. Now, I often left it at 3 because quite honestly, I'm not into twisting people's arms... that's what the slick sales guy does. However, what I always do is keep the conversation going. From here I may still leave with the sale or at the very least I'm getting a follow up meeting at which point we could then make the deal.
So, being the consumer, how can you use this three question and silence method? You don't need to but if you really want to make yourself clear you can simply say, "Mr. Slick Sales Guy, I appreciate you and the time that you've given me however, I'm simply not confident at this moment that what you're offering is best for me. That said, I would love the respect to sit with this for a day or two and I will follow up with you to let you know if we will move forward or not."
Using that word respect is heavy. If you feel ANY kind of pressue after this statement, "someone" is being slick and you can just shut it all down right there. But here's the thing, if YOU are the type of person to put things off then don't do this. Ask them to follow up with you because I've seen it before (specifically in the industry of insurance) when I've given people the respect of time and after their time of "procrastination", they suffered an injury of some kind and ended up left in a situation worse off than before. So, if you're a procrastinator be honest with yourself and be honest with your intentions and simply make a decision.
As I said at the beginning, you're in the driver seat but you need to know where you're going and don't procrastinate in getting there just to simply prove a point of "not wanting to be sold". If your sales person is being slick, often times you'll pick up on it because of the energy you receive. However, if you're working with a professional, it has been said that a professional sales person has a "bedside manner" meaning they allow you to express yourself and your wants while creating a space where you feel comfortable, and the professionals are providing you with a valuable product or service and ultimately should be compensated. But, if you don't feel comfortable, there is probably a reason. The truth is, people will only buy from someone they know, like, and trust. So, always remember, when it's all said and done, you're the one holding the cheque book.