The Top 5 Things I Know For Sure About Sales


The Top 5 Things I Know For Sure About Sales

In many Small Businesses ‘sales’ is a dirty word. Not the sort of word that would have had your Mum reaching for the soap maybe, but definitely a word that causes some awkward shifting in seats and late night tossing and turning.

I decided to write this article for two reasons:

Number 1: It forced me to reflect on almost 20 years of sales experience and see if I could narrow it down to a definitive list of 5 insights, which I felt confident sharing with the Smallville audience.

Number 2: I know that Top 5 Lists tend to be read and shared more than most other articles and in sales, just like in Small Business, no-one wants to be the best kept secret.

So here goes, the ‘Top 5 Things I Know For Sure About Sales’:

The balance of power has shifted forever from sellers to buyers.

In his exceptional book To Sell Is Human the author Dan Pink explains that this change started with greater access to information for consumers via the internet and increased pace with the introduction of peer to peer review websites. As the knowledge gap has closed, sellers have been forced to become more honest, more customer centric and more attuned to their audience or run the risk of extinction.

Customers are buying you, more than the product or service you’re selling.

It seems almost counter-intuitive, but believe me when I tell you, prospective customers are actually making their purchasing decisions based on the strength of the story your telling, the quality of your people, the integrity, authority and credibility which you and your business projects. Why do you think the ‘About Us’ section of your website is the 2nd most visited page, after your home page.

These days a great product or service at a reasonable price is simply your ticket to the dance, what happens next is entirely up to you. I think the author Simon Sinek said it best…“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”.

Everybody wants a great deal.

Humans are hard-wired to respond to great stories, but we’re also hard-wired to want to receive a great deal when we buy something. Whether it’s a discount for paying in advance or 2 years free warranty, we always want something to sweeten the deal and make us feel we’ve gained some additional value.

Many Small Businesses make the mistake of competing on price, which squeezes their margins and makes future price increases difficult. The best sales organisations find other ways to create value for customers, by creating packaged offerings with additional benefits built in, as a clear differentiation strategy. There are countless ways to offer your customers a great deal, you’re only constrained by your imagination.

The best pitch will often trump the best product or price-point.

Creating a compelling pitch for a new customer, is part science, part art in my experience. The critical step actually comes in your first few interactions with a new prospect. Taking the time to really understanding your customers key needs or pain points allows you to craft something so compelling and tailored to their needs, it becomes almost impossible for them to say no.

In their fascinating book Stop Bitching, Start Pitching the famous ad-men Ian Elliot and Marty Kellard explain how to create a hook for your sales pitch: “Your hook has to be relevant. It must spring directly from your answer to the question “How can we help solve your problem”. 

People often buy with their hearts, then justify with their heads.

Think back to the last time you made a significant purchase…your first home perhaps? Ask yourself how much of your decision was driven by pure logic and reason; distance to schools and shops, price per square foot. Now ask yourself how much of your decision was influenced by emotion, perhaps you had a vision of your children playing in the garden or you and your partner enjoying sundowners on the deck on a summer’s afternoon?

As human beings, we tend to rely on the limbic side of our brains, which support emotion, intuition and feeling to make the majority of our decisions and then we justify them with the features and functions, facts and raw data which our left brain cares about. It’s ironic that although most people actually make decisions this way, in sales companies we invariably try to sell based on rational, non-emotive criteria and then wonder when prospective customers struggle to differentiate us from our competition.

I hope my Top 5 List strikes a chord with you. Let me know which ones you agree or disagree with in the comments section below. Better still share your own golden rules of sales, which have served you well in business.

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