We’re the land of number eight wire and it’s that deeply ingrained entrepreneurial spirit which…
I speak to a lot of people and when I ask them ‘do you love selling’, most of them say ‘nope, I do not.’ Sales is so often people’s least favourite thing! And I’ll admit, that used to be me as well. Now? I love selling because I have changed the way I see it. But for a long time I thought it was something that was shifty, gross, yucky and slimy. I also didn’t understand how important it was to have it as part of building a relationship with a customer, and so I would avoid it at all costs. I only learnt how to sell because I had to, in order to survive and support my family. Otherwise I would have avoided it like the plague.
Learning how to sell as a business owner is so important, even if you do grow to a point where you have another person doing it. Why? Because the person who knows the business best is you. And if you can’t sell it, how do you expect someone else to? Which is why learning a good sales process, keeping to it and becoming more confident at it is a really good asset to have as a business owner. And you don’t need to be flashy, loud and showy to be a salesperson – you just need to remember that it is all about building trust between you and the customer.
So with that in mind, let’s start with ensuring that you make it easy for yourself. Because this is all about how to get more sales from leads this year! And to get more sales from leads, the leads you have must be good leads. Which is why first of all, we need to make sure your WHO is right.
Let’s Make Sure Your WHO is Right
Making sure your WHO is right is all about knowing that you are targeting the best people to get the right leads in. And this is about taking the time to think about where you are going to post your marketing messages and how you are going to do it so you get the right people contacting you with an interest in your product or service. Is it going to be on different social media platforms, is it going to be traditional marketing – and most importantly, is it saying the right thing to attract the right person?
You want your marketing to be consistently sending out the same messages over and over again, so potential customers are coming to you either from an interest in your marketing, through referrals or from word of mouth of conversations.
Don’t forget to also use the types of leads you are getting to reflect on how your marketing is performing. So if you want to work with startups and all you are getting is established businesses, your conversations in your marketing are attracting the wrong type of people. Or if you want to talk to people who are wealthy and you are getting people who say they can’t afford you – then you need to have a look at the words you are using in your messaging.
Make sure your WHO is right, because that makes everything else, like turning leads into sales, easier.
Let’s Make Sure Your WHAT is Right
The next step is making sure your WHAT is right. So are you selling the right types of things? Let me explain.
Most businesses are a bit like an iceberg. In the very best businesses you only see a small portion of what they sell at the top. That is the thing they talk about all the time, and often you don’t see all the other things. A good example of a really big business doing this would be Coca Cola. We know they do Sprite, L&P, Fanta and all of these other things, but the one they market over and over again, and put lots of money into, is coke. That is the top of their iceberg, because they know that if they do that, you will go to the coke fridge and while looking for coke, you will also see all of the other things they sell. And then you might choose another product of theirs as well. And you know what? We’re the same, even as a small business. At Identify, we talk about how we work with you and help you define your strategy, because that is the entry point – you need to do a strategy with us before you do anything else. But, it doesn’t mean it is all we do. However, that is the thing we talk about repeatedly to make sure we get people who want to do that part, because that is the starting point.
So make sure what you are saying is right before you start worrying about how to get more leads in. By ensuring your WHO and your WHAT is right, it will give you the best leads coming into your business (as well as doing a great job of course, because if you are not doing a great job, you’re not getting word of mouth marketing.)
Mindset really really matters
When it comes to sales, mindset really matters. And honestly, I cannot emphasise how important it is for you to feel like you have got to do it. So one of the tasks I often get customers or clients to do is to take a blank piece of paper, put a timer on for two-five minutes, and they write down all the perceptions of selling. If you have got time right now, have a go without thinking too much about the words you put down. We’ll be here!
Done it? Right, now look at what you have written and confront your perceptions of selling – do you see it as a good thing or a bad thing? When I did it, I found that I had some really broken ideas of what selling was. I thought it was all about being ‘grabby’ and pushy in order to sell stuff, and because of this I have worked really hard to make sure it is not part of my sales story and the way I talk to people. And in order to do that, I had to change my mindset and tell myself that sales is actually a service.
See sales as a service
When we see sales is simply serving someone to work out whether you are the right fit for them, and they are the right fit for you, it truly changes things – it takes that intensity out. It removes that drive and/or need to close a deal, because you’re actually going to allow them to make the decision. You are going to give them all the information they require, and if they choose someone else because you haven’t given them what they needed to know in order to buy from you (and you know they are right for you), then that’s not their fault – it’s yours for not sharing it all. So the more we serve people by giving them all the information to make a decision and to make it easier to choose us, the more the right people will choose us.
I used to really struggle with sales anxiety and I had a bit of a mantra, which I’d like to share with you: ‘It is going to be good, it is going to be fun, it is going to be easy’. And sometimes if I am having a bad day, I still use that before I pick the phone for one of my sales appointments, just to remind myself that I can have fun in sales and it can be easy and good – and whether it works or not, going into the call with that thought process really does help.
Know your offer
Once you have got the right mindset and understand that sales is a service, you need to nail what your offer is and be really clear in conveying it. Think about what it is that you are offering and what value it has to customers. Quite often when we are not confident on this (and this is a mindset thing again) we will apologise for a price, or avoid talking about a price if we feel it is too expensive. And that has an impact on the way we talk about things. You need to have a solid understanding of what the value is and not in a defensive way, but a really self-confident place of ‘this is what we do, this is how it helps and this is what it can do for you’.
And practice it. Make it solid and easy to relay. Because you will get better as you do it again and again.
Self improvement makes every meeting worth it
When we go into a sales meeting, while knowing our offers is really important in order to get a sale, you also need to think about what it is you want from the meeting. Of course you want a sale, but I always suggest that you have two objectives.
The first objective is something that will help improve your business, so it could be getting the sale, or an opportunity to provide a proposal, or even a second meeting (whatever it is that fits your sales process). But also have a second objective that is about your own self-development. For me it is often about remembering not to talk too much. For you it might be to ask more questions, or to offer something in particular. That will help you know that you are developing every time you do it, and it gives you something to reflect on – ‘even if I didn’t get the sale, did I make myself a better salesperson?’
Sales meetings work best when you are prepared
Sales meetings work best when you are prepared. Look, I’ve got to be honest, I can get a bit sloppy in this because I do so many, but when you are first starting out and trying to change behaviours, it is very important to go in super prepared.
For every business that will look a little different. It might be doing a bit of research on the customer you are talking to, it might be making sure you have all your marketing and sales materials, it might be making sure you have a price list or if you are just starting out, it might be about having a list of questions to ask. I have a sales book that I carry out with me all the time and it has all the questions I need to ask. I then put all the answers into there from the meeting, and it goes into my CRM.
And of course – turn up on time. If you are going to a physical meeting and if you need to go to the toilet or find a park, allow extra time for that. If you are doing it by Zoom or over the phone, you still must make sure you turn up on time. And if you are running late for any reason, let them know.
It is also really crucial to stick to the time allocated. So if you have agreed on a half an hour meeting and you’re getting close to the time limit, you should give them an option like ‘hey, we initially said half an hour and while I am quite happy to go further, that’s only if you are’. Get their permission to continue so they don’t feel like they have wasted time with you or come out feeling harangued. New Zealanders and Australians aren’t always so good at speaking their minds when they are unhappy in a situation, so please make sure you keep them happy and don’t take up more of their time that they have given permission for.
Listen then speak
Listen and then speak. I had to learn as a salesperson that it is far better to let someone talk than to speak to them during selling. Which doesn’t make a lot of sense – it seems kind of counter intuitive. But, if you can get someone talking and explaining a lot of things to you, and you’re able to listen to what it is they need, you can then refer back to it at the end.
Quite often people won’t tell you what they need right away, so ask lots of open ended questions. I love starting with ‘tell me a little bit about you’ and ‘tell me a little bit about your business’. And the reason I recommend you do this is because people feel comfortable with this approach and they start talking because it relaxes them.
I hear lots of information that might come in handy (some of it doesn’t) but it means that the conversation flows and everything feels a lot easier. So that’s key – spend more time listening than speaking – a ratio of 75% (them) and 25% (you). If it is more than that, you have to practice keeping your ears open and your mouth shut.
And once I start moving into a sales ‘pitch’, I always ask ‘are you okay if I tell you a little bit about what we do now?’ Getting their permission is a really respectful thing to do.
Know your ideal close
Generally I don’t like asking for a direct sale in a meeting. I know people who do it but for my business it’s not what I need to do. If you need some ideas on how to close – check out this link for 30 different closing ideas.
So anyway, I don’t go hard out and ask for a sale – I ask if I can do a proposal or an email quote. But I always explain what I am going to do next, what I need them to do next, and what we are going to do next together. This includes telling them when I am going to get back to them by, and if they are going to contact me, I ask when that might be so I can mention that if I don’t hear from them, I will call or email.
Knowing how to close in a way you feel comfortable with is really important. My closes tend to relate to time, or to getting to the next stage of the journey which is getting through an email quote or proposal. But you know what, I don’t get it right all the time and that is one of the things with sales – you won’t get it right 100% of the time. Sometimes I severely misjudge someone and think that they wouldn’t want to work with us, so I don’t even ask because I didn’t think it went well. Then they are begging us to take them on. And then other times I think it is going really well and I go ‘great we have got that in the bag’, when we didn’t at all.
Sales meetings can be tricky. But knowing your closes, choosing the ones that fit well with what you do and your personality, and then practicing them will all help with your self-development.
Stay in contact
The last thing in terms of getting sales is the biggy. And it’s why we have a CRM.
We use ZOHO CRM and we also help people implement it (just a quick sales plug there). And the reason we use a CRM is to help us to remember to stay in contact. I used to use a whiteboard but we now have too many people to keep track of, so our CRM has automated systems in that when I have had a meeting it automatically sends me a reminder a week later to follow up and it just keeps on reminding me until the person closes.
It would be great to say I could do all of that in my brain, but I can’t. And because staying in contact is essential for closing a sale, I don’t want to forget.
A sales meeting is not the only part of the sales process. Most people need between 13 to 22 points of contact before they close a sale with you. And they may have already had some of those points before they came to see you – maybe through reading a blog, attending a course or getting a referral, but generally you need to be doing 5 to 7 points of contact AFTER that meeting to get that sale. So emails, phone calls and staying true to your rules of what you told them you would do will show them you are trustworthy and will lead them to feel comfortable about using you in the future. Stay in contact.
With all of those ideas, you CAN get more sales from your leads this year and I hope that you do. I hope you’re able to continue building a growing, vibrant business. But if you need more help, we’d love to talk to you! And whether that is about CRMs or looking at a customised sales strategy – there’s plenty more below the surface here at Identify.