OK, raise your hand if you loved high school.
I certainly didn’t. It seemed like it was one big popularity contest, and if you weren’t the cheerleader, or the student council president, or the class clown, or the quarterback of the football team, you were left out in the cold.
Teenagers are notorious for being pretty superficial. It doesn’t matter how smart you are, or how interesting, or how creative — popularity was the only thing that mattered.
And I see some people carrying that fear over into their businesses. They worry that if everybody doesn’t like them, they won’t make any sales. They look at the big-wigs in their niche — the cute bubbly cheerleader type, the handsome quarterback type — and think, “I can’t compete with that!”
But here’s the deal: You don’t have to. As I said in my last post, sales isn’t an emotional process, and it’s not a moral judgement, either. It’s just a decision: yes, or no. And that decision rarely has anything to do with you, personally.
I know, it’s easy for me to sit here and say that rejection (or acceptance!) in a sales process isn’t about you — because it can certainly feel personal if you don’t have the right mindset.
But the truth is, sales isn’t about you.
1. It’s not about your credibility.
Ever heard of impostor syndrome? It seems to run rampant among entrepreneurs — especially female entrepreneurs — and it’s the fear that someone is going to eventually figure out that you’re just a fraud, that you don’t have a clue what you’re doing, that you’re just making it up as you go along.
Here’s a secret: we’re all making it up as we go along. And we all feel this way from time to time.
Secretly, we fear that we really aren’t credible, so when someone says no in a sales situation, seems to confirm our deepest darkest fears.
But your credibility really isn’t even in question during a sales conversation.
Why? Your credibility has already been factored in based on the data the person is gathering about you as they come to your website. By the time you’re actually on the phone with somebody, your credibility is no longer in question; you’ve already established that you are the expert.
I know a high-priced business coach (we’re talking tens of thousands of dollars to work with her) who has multiple advanced degrees as well as two well respected coaching certifications, and she said in a speech I heard her give that no one — not one single person in almost a decade of coaching — has ever asked about her credentials.
One of the biggest mistakes I see people make is to get on a sales call and then try to position themselves as the expert.
The problem with that is that those people start speaking to — and solving — the issues that they’re raising on the call.
For example, as a financial planner, somebody might say, “Well, I’m not sure of the best way to pay off this debt.” Of course, I already know the best way to pay off that debt. I know without ever charging somebody what the best way to pay off debt is.
But the point of that sales conversation is not to solve problems. Let me say that again, because it’s important: the point of a sales conversation is not to solve problems. I’m having that conversation to explain my process to them and make sure that they are in alignment with how I do things and my philosophy, not to tell them how to eliminate their debt.
When a service provider doesn’t feel confident, the tendency is to jump in and start to try to solve the problems that the prospect is raising. But guess what: they haven’t hired you yet! So you’re actually reducing their urgency to solve that problem by giving them solutions.
That’s right: You’re shooting yourself — and your sales — in the foot by giving them solutions to their problems during your sales conversation.
2. It’s not about your personality.
You may have heard about the “know, like, and trust” factor, and that people buy from people they like. That’s true, to an extent, but most people don’t actually care how different you are…
What they do care about is how different your service or product is. My business is a perfect example of this.
I am a financial planner, but I’m a financial planner who doesn’t sell products…I literally sell NOTHING except my advice. This is unusual in my industry. So the average financial planner who does sell products and have asset management — which is the norm — their average client acquisition is 12 clients a year.
Now I, on the other hand, get on average 120 clients a year. So when I talk to traditional planners and they’re saying, “How do you make a living?” I’m like, “Well, I actually make a great living, because more people are interested in me because I do things so differently.”
The difference in my service cuts through that noise and so I stand out because I’m the only one not selling any asset management or products. People don’t care about how nice I am, how down-to-earth I am. Those might be advantages when they get on the phone with me and they actually like who I am as a person, but they wouldn’t be getting on the phone with me unless I had a significant differentiation point in the service I provide.
This is sometimes called your unique selling proposition (USP), and to get really clear on what yours is, ask yourself these questions:
- What makes your product or service different from others in your field?
- Why do people choose you over your competitors?
- What do you disagree with that others in your industry do? (This is often a great indicator of your USP.)
For example, I know a relationship coach who doesn’t work on a “therapy” model. She only offers a package of 8 sessions, and she goes through a very specific coaching process in those sessions. Unlike a therapist who might see you once a week for forever, she wants to emphasize making decisions and making change, so she keeps her coaching relatively short.
That’s a great USP that differentiates her from the competition, and so that is what she needs to focus on in her sales conversations, whether they take place in person or online.
Because as sweet and bubbly as she may be, as good a coach as I know she is — none of that matters in the sales conversation. What matters is her process, and that’s what will close the sale.
3. It’s not about whether or not they like you.
Do you like every single company you do business with?
Let’s take your cable company, for example. Or your phone company. Or your electric company. These types of companies are notorious for having terrible customer service. People will go to great lengths not to have to interact with these companies and complain about them prodigiously.
Yet, they still do business with these companies. Why?
In a few cases, it’s because there’s very little choice, very little competition in that niche. But in most cases, it’s because, regardless of whether they like the company or not, they like the results, the product they get in return. They’re not willing to give up their cable subscription, for example, so they put up with Comcast.
Even in the online business world, where it seems like personality rules, the sale almost never hinges on whether or not the potential customer likes you. What does tip the scales is your process or system — the unique and different way that you get results for your clients. It’s about your unique client experience.
Whether you offer a service or a physical product, what closes the sale is how well you can explain and demonstrate your unique way of achieving the customer’s goals.
For a coach or service provider, it might be the process or system you walk clients through to achieve an outcome. For a product, it’s the way your product meets a need that other competitors don’t.
Therefore you need to shift the conversation from you to the process — and explain how, because you are so different from the norm, you (or your product) can get them better results.
This is why you need to get super clear on why are people coming to you instead of somebody else.
In the world of sales, you don’t need to be the popular kid at the table, the cheerleader, student council leader, or quarterback of the football team; you need a unique client experience and a message that communicates your difference clearly and concisely.
And so for that reason, when you’re having sales conversations, you have to be focused on the client experience and how you’re going to meet their needs differently than any other product or service.
What’s your unique client experience? How you plan to focus on it in your sales conversations going forward?
And, be sure to pick up my sales system ebook if you want some help revisiting this issue for your business.
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