Sell By Helping: How Not To Come Across As Another Sales Person
Nothing is worse than being talked at by a pushy, brazen salesperson, who — moments after meeting you — begins force-feeding information on how great his product is, presuming why you need it, and how he has a limited time offer — but only if you buy today. Immediately, you’re put on the defensive and certainly have no intention of buying anything.
Now imagine, instead, if this same salesperson had approached you with a genuine greeting, opening the conversation with commonalities or shared viewpoints based on information he researched on LinkedIn ahead of time. Instant rapport, networking ease, low-pressure introductions, a customer-centric discovery of ways that your product may solve a real problem.
It’s a refreshing change of pace, to be sure, but still one that many salespeople haven’t universally adopted. There are a few best practices to ensure that your selling style is more consultative and soft, rather than pushy and hard, but the overall goals are to focus on your customer, develop authentic trust, listen to their needs, help them with their challenges, and in the end, reap the bountiful fruits of your thoughtful, relationship-building labor.
To get started on the right path, here are a few “Helpful Selling” tips we’d recommend:
Provide education or something free before trying to sell to anyone.
Are you an expert on a certain subject? Have valuable information to share? Give it away for free, no strings attached. With the live-streaming technology available today, it’s easier than ever to host webinars, teleconferences, or other public events that educate and inform — rather than bombard and force-feed.
Strive to become a helpful resource, rather than a salesperson.
Shift your thinking to the customer’s viewpoint. What are their challenges? How must they be feeling? What are their goals? Don’t sell a point solution, but rather discuss and discover ways that your services could be added as a solution to their problem.
Understand the other person’s pain points and challenges.
Rarely will a prospect come right out and tell you what challenges they’re facing. Like any relationship, rapport and trust must be established before either party feels “safe” to share that sensitive information. Listen for cues, respond accordingly, build trust before moving forward. To fully understand your prospect’s pain points and challenges, you’ve got to know what they value as an organization and what their goals are for growth and improvement. From there, you’ve got a better understanding of how, why, and where the entire arc of your service line can be plugged into their needs.
Offer a free consultation or a small free or low cost assessment.
Help solve quick problems and build trust before they must commit to investing in your product or service. Give open access to your offerings for prospects to absorb and digest on their own. Offer a checklist questionnaire to help them index their pain points. Help them solve a problem (at a low cost) by first helping them identify it (for free). This diagnostic and therapeutic model of selling enables you to grow your business, while serving a very real need of your customer.
Focus on building rapport, not on selling.
It’s much more pleasant to have a conversation with someone with the low-pressure purpose of genuinely learning more about them, finding out what makes them tick, and being delighted if you’re armed with the resources to help them advance their goals. Whether it’s a friend, a colleague, a prospect – it’s all the same – rapport first.
Don’t be in a hurry to get through your talking points, become an expert at developing the relationship first.
Relationship marketing should become the foundation of your sales process, a subtle but effective focus on developing relationships instead of spitting out aggressive pitches to a captive audience. It’s less forced and more natural — and usually more effective because you’ve formed a trusted connection before giving your sales pitch.
Send follow up info by email that might be helpful to the person (articles or suggestions on tools).
Keep your prospects in mind as you skim daily news articles, blog subscriptions, or industry publications. See something that reminds you of a topic from your last conversation with the prospect? Something relevant to their brand? Send it along. Those meaningful, subliminal touchpoints help to bolster your relationship, reasserting that their needs are genuinely important to you.
A consultative, soft selling style creates valuable relationships that, in turn, create staunch advocates for your brand. Seek first to focus on your customer, develop authentic trust, and understand pain points and goals. Then propose how your offerings will solve their challenges. Your prospects readily lean into these authentic partnerships in which their success is the primary goal, and your sales performance improves as a result of these loyal, service-based partnerships. Win-win.