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'I hate selling (but I want business)'

There are two kinds of people who sell: those who live to sell and those who sell to live.

If you’re in the first group, you probably get paid commission to sell. You can’t wait to get up in the morning and hit the road, embracing the challenge and always hunting for the next close. You love to fail because every failure brings you closer to the next success.

Most people, though, are in the second group, including business owners who can’t afford to hire a dedicated sales force and solopreneurs who thought that if they hung up a shingle, people would come.

Whether you’re a financial advisor, a realtor, a lawyer, a dentist, an HVAC installer or a plumber, you have to sell whether you like it or not. Maybe nobody told you you’d have to sell when you started out in your profession but by now you’ve come to realize it’s not optional.

When I talk to people in that second group and I ask them what it is about selling they don’t like, they typically mention the same few things. “I hate to put pressure on people,” or “I feel a lot of pressure myself when I’m selling,” or “I’m uncomfortable talking about money.” Maybe even “I don’t know how to do it effectively,” or “I hate rejection.”

Imagine if you could solve all those problems just by changing your approach —  a sales process where the buyer said to you, “I really want this. Please take my money.” I’m going to give you a six-step road map to get there. Buckle up, pay attention and hold on tight.

1. Figure out all you can about your prospect. Are they a quick decision maker, an easy-going type who’ll buy from the person they like best, someone who is concerned about the impact and risk of buying, or someone who wants a-l-l the details before they can move? If you can’t figure that out, they’re probably not going to listen to you for long because you’re not speaking their language. You need to adapt to their style if you want them to open up to you.

2. Establish ground rules for every meeting. (How long do we have? What are you hoping to get out of the meeting? Here’s what I want to get out of it. At the end, these are the things that can happen (you say no, I say no, we both say yes).) Get agreement so there is no mutual mystification.

3. Ask a lot of questions. People buy emotionally and that means we have to help them get in touch with their feelings. Most buyers hold their cards close to the chest and you will have to be patient and ask emotion-triggering questions in a nurturing, supportive way to get them to open up. Of course whatever they’re telling you, they’re also telling themselves. And that means they’re selling themselves.

4. Once you’ve established they have an emotional reason to buy and they’ve got it front and center, it’s time to ask them how much they would be willing to spend to fix the problem. (Note that this has nothing to do with your price. We’ll get to that later.) This may not be only about money. There are other things people have to invest such as time, resources, inconvenience and, perhaps the toughest, change. Most people don’t have endless buckets of money, so make sure you have a clear understanding of what they’re NOT going to be able to do if they give their money to you. People can love your product and think the price is perfectly fair, but they still won’t buy if it means they won’t be able to go on that vacation.

5. We’re starting to feel good because we have someone who is willing and able to buy. Now we have to figure out how that’s going to happen. Who will be involved in the decision? What is the decision process? When and where will the decision be made. Keep asking questions until you have a clear picture of how you get from here to the bank (with the check in hand).

6. You may have noticed that we’ve come all this way and it’s all been about the prospect. She’s already on board but what haven’t we done? Close? On what? We haven’t done a presentation. Now’s the time. Get your dog and pony out and do your song and dance but ONLY where it applies to the emotional needs we talked about back in step 3. Now we can reveal our cost, knowing it is within their budget (see Step 4 above). Now is not the time to tell them about your other products or services. Sell today, educate tomorrow. As you show them how your product or service will address their pain, ask them where they are. Don’t wait for the big close to find out if they’re going to buy. When they tell you they’re ready, don’t ask for the order. That puts way too much pressure on them and you. Just ask them what they’d like you to do now. If you followed the plan up to this point, they’re going to say something like “Well, do I give you a check?”

Doesn’t that sound like a less painful selling process than what you’re doing right now? Give it a try on your next sales call. 

Author Christopher H. Lee is a Sandler Training Professional, who helps business owners and selling professionals grow their sales and management success as owner of Sandler Olympia. A graduate of University of Maryland, his previously 30-year professional history included selling extensively for health systems technology firms in the U.S. and U.K.   chris.lee@sandler.com

This article is featured in the 2017 Small Business Resource Guide, a free publication from Business Examiner Media.