Let's face it, we all have to be salespeople in some aspect of life - most of us just don't like it.
There are some people - myself included - who do like selling.
A great salesperson is just about 180 degrees opposite from a used-car salesman. A great salesperson is a trusted partner in business. And if that statement sounds as strange to you as it does to most people, you'll realize how un-great most salespeople are.
First, let me tell you about my background. I was selling sodas to construction workers in my neighborhood when I was 8 years old. I sold candy bars on my school bus in high school. I paid for college by licensing the University of Virginia's "V" logo and producing Frisbees with the logo, which I sold in the school bookstores (my self-portrait, at left, with my Frisbees in the window of one of the bookstores, dated 1996).
I spent 4 summers at GE while in college, working as an intern in the telesales department, where I beat the sales numbers of some full-time salespeople, selling Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) solutions to banks in Brazil. Since then I've been an Entrepreneur full-time; I've gotten massive amounts of press, including a cover in the Marketplace section of the Wall Street Journal, CNN, CNBC, Forbes, TLC, Discovery Channel, CBS News & many, many others.
The best sales book I've ever read is called "Selling to VITO". (That book was pre-Internet; the author has since come out with two similar books, "Getting to VITO and "Secrets of VITO: Think and Sell Like a CEO" that are updated). The main point of the VITO books is that sales people have value and should approach their clients as equals. Never apologize when pitching a client. You are bringing value to the table. The client needs you as much as you need him. You just have to convince him of that. I highly recommend this series.
I get sales calls all the time from telemarketers that don't take the time to do their research. They call me and ask, "May I speak to the person who handles your internet marketing?" I just can't believe they're wasting their time. Have they even taken 30 seconds to see what I'm even doing with internet marketing? If these salespeople would just Google my name or my company name, they would be able to call me and say, "Daniel, I noticed you've raised your traffic from 40 unique visits per day to 2,400 unique visits per day. That's really impressive, but I have a way to raise that to 10,000 unique visits per day. Want me to show you how?" An obviously more powerful pitch.
So if you need to pitch clients but are afraid to, or for another other reasons don't enjoy the sales process, here are a few tips to make it less painful:
Good: Joe, this is Daniel Odio. I understand you need to ship 1,000 widgets to Nebraska by Tuesday. I've got a solution for you. Call me at 202.250.3846 for details, again that's 202.250.3846.
Bad: Joe, my name is Daniel Odio. I wanted to talk to you about your shipping needs. Is there a time we could schedule an appointment to talk? We have some very innovative shipping solutions. You can reach me at 202.250.3846. I can also tell you about our specials.
Keep it short. Very short. Joe is a busy guy. If he doesn't see immediate value, you're gone. I can't tell you how many VM's I delete after the first 5 or 10 words. And never leave any information after you give your phone number. Most people, if they are going to call you back at all, are going to hit delete as soon as you give your number so they can dial it. Say your phone number slowly and repeat it. Just get in the habit of repeating your phone number every time you leave it on people's VM's, so it sounds natural, not forced.
The tone of your voicemail is important too. Here's some audio of me rattling off the "Good" version of the VM above in two different ways:
The same thing goes for emails. I see inexperienced salespeople all the time writing novel-length emails.
Keep your emails short. Maximum 3 sentences. Remember, the point of an email is NOT to convince the prospect to buy. He or she is not going to just call you up and place an order after receiving your email. The point of an email is to get the prospect on the phone.
Let me repeat that. The point of your email is NOT to close the deal. The point of your email is to get a phone call, or possibly a meeting. Do NOT write long emails. If you want more tips on writing emails, read my blog on getting good press; the same rules apply.
If you need to be selling as part of your job, make yourself start right now. Seriously, go and sign up for Jigsaw. Pull a list of 10 people you'll call in the morning. Go sign up for an account with Salesforce.com. Do some quick research on those 10 people and find out if what they need is what you're offering. Get organized and get started, and do it now.
I would say that I'm convicted by your post, but the truth is I've finally come to a 100% understanding after several experiments that I must make the phone call. I tried every type of email including fast video emails to connect with customers registering at my website--3-10/day. The fancy video replies did absolutely nothing except push people away from replying back or signing up for one my online tools. The phone call is an absolute to make the most of these folks. Everything else is a copout and I'm on a campaign to respond quickly now by phone. I even had voicemail template to message to new users from my phone. Will be interesting to see the difference in # of new clients generated from making quick phone calls now that i'll be able to hand to my associate. I've proven that the best most techie ways of repsonding to website registrations don't succeed, except for low percentage from drip mail.
I'm consistently blown away by the general lack of understanding of what a website should be used for, especially by those people actually trying to promote their business via websites.
So many people have these fluffy, information-laden websites, which is fine, but no way for someone to contact them.
It's like having a telephone with no receiver.
The point of most websites is to get someone to contact you, whether by email inquiry or phone call. Period. Sure, there are many exceptions, like Amazon.com, whose goal is to have you buy something from them, but for most smaller websites, all you really want is a phone call or an email inquiry. For example, if you're a Realtor, do you really think you're going to transact a whole deal over the web without talking to the person? Of course you don't. So just get someone to contact you.
And how many times have YOU been on a site and thought to yourself, "I just want to call this person! Where is their phone number?!" (or email address).
I'm consistently blown away by the general lack of understanding of what a website should be used for, especially by those people actually trying to promote their business via websites. So many people have these fluffy, information-laden websites, which is fine, but no way for someone to contact them. It's like having a telephone with no receiver. The point of most websites is to get someone to contact you, whether by email inquiry or phone call. Period. Sure, there are many exceptions, like Amazon.com, whose goal is to have you buy something from them, but for most smaller websites, all you really want is a phone call or an email inquiry. For example, if you're a Realtor, do you really think you're going to transact a whole deal over the web without talking to the person? Of course you don't. So just get someone to contact you. And how many times have YOU been on a site and thought to yourself, "I just want to call this person! Where is their phone number?!" (or email address). So take a good, hard look at YOUR website and ask yourself, "If I were a visitor, how many clicks does it take to be able to contact me? " Because the answer should be zero. On each page, you should have a "contact us" inquiry form AND your phone number prominently displayed. You'll notice that on my sites, such as www.DROdio.com , www.RebateReps.com and many others, I have an inquiry box on EVERY page. So go reevaluate the purpose of your site. Information is nice, but it won't lead to a sale. Make it easy for someone to contact you to really get the sales process started.
Alan Mayer is a veteran salesman and sales trainer. With over two decades of experience, he's able to deliver results quickly and has powerful mental models for understanding sales. Most interestingly, he now has a speciality in how introverts can leverage their natural skills to even be better salespeople than extroverts!
He's running a class for GiveGetWin on November 28th on how to create instant rapport by matching your language to the prospective client or customer. Extremely powerful stuff. Enjoy this interview, and then get over to GiveGetWin to scoop this deal up if your job or role involves any selling or interpersonal skills.
"The New Rules For Sales" -- When Features and Benefits Don't Get It Done
Sales wisdom from Alan Mayer, as told to Chiara Cokieng
I am a sales trainer. But first and foremost, I'm the person in sales for over 20 years now. I started very young during university selling bulldozers and excavators -- heavy equipment. My whole career, I leaned towards sales.