Your answer to this question is probably a resounding NO! Of course not. We all think we are good communicators and say the right things…. so we thought.
When I asked the audience at a workshop I was doing years ago if anyone had problems communicating, no one raised their hands.
Because we don’t think we have communication problems. We can communicate. In fact, most of us salespeople can be accused of talking too much! And there lies the problem; talking too much and saying the wrong thing. That’s how we lose the sale. Because anyone with excellent sales communication skills will NEVER have any problem making a lot of money selling, that’s the truth.
Sales Communication is your greatest advantage in sales
Let me let you in on a little secret. Well… not really a secret, but this may not be obvious to some. There are prospects all over the place, especially online, looking for you and wanting what you sell.
I am not lying. I see posts constantly from people looking for things they want and need. And I see business owners, freelancers and entrepreneurs falling all over themselves trying to grab it but totally missing it because they are saying the wrong things.
They are not correctly communicating what the prospect WANTS to hear. They say the wrong things–all kinds of things that mean nothing to the potential buyers.
There are two big problems people MAKE ONLINE:
- Non-human communication. Responds that sound more like robots than humans–speaking like corporate mouthpieces instead of humans. So they mouth off pitches full of jargon to appear intelligent and cool but fail to realize that these corporate talks don’t communicate to most buyers. They may sound cool and impressive, but no one gets it–because it’s either way too long or complicated for a busy, overwhelmed brain looking to get some help. I am sure, if you pay attention, you’ll see them. In fact, I challenge you to look for them in online groups to train yourself to avoid being “that person.”
- Making it hard for others to buy or respond. Respond like: “That’s what I do. I can help you with that. Give me a call to see if there is a fit” — which translates to: “give me a call, and I will assess whether or not, you are qualified to be my client”. Doesn’t that sound uninspiring? Of course, it could also mean: “give me a call to see if I can be a provider for you”. Either way, the response implies that they want the prospective buyer to do the work. Another version of this is when the seller says something like, “Dm me and let me know what you need” or “I’d love to help you, DM me.” Way too lazy! You are asking the person for the work that you should be doing.
Here’s what I would have said:
“Hey, what you need seems to be the exact thing I help many clients with. I’ve looked at your profile (or website ), and I can see a lot of potential (or whatever is appropriate). I’ve messaged you my suggestions and some samples of my work. Please check your messages to see if what I provide is what you’re looking for, and I’ll check back with you later to see what you think”. This message says: I’ve done quick research, so I have some idea of what you may need; I’d like to be considered and here are samples of my work. I’ve quickly built likeability and trust, which are key components in sales communication. Make it easy for potential clients to like you.
Convince people to buy your stuff
Convince people to give you money
Convince people to do something (take action)
Help people and get help
Do you want proof that good messaging is essential in your sales pitch?
Here’s what one of my students said:
‘My biggest win on the course was how I pitch and the mindset shift which is to HELP the person who needed help, and my sales pitch came out from the heart and when I said it, it was not salesy at all.’
It was a dreary England morning when I walked out of my Airbnb to go to the nearest town for groceries.
I decided to walk instead of calling an Uber. I figured I’d wander around in town and enjoy the scenery. It is, after all, England, where everything seems to grow mystically well.
Heading down east Grinstead, I met an old lady that came out from one of the cottages (they call their homes cottages–I was staying at the wilderness cottage). We started chatting and I told her that the area is such a wonderful place despite the gloomy weather; I even saw a herd of deers roaming the ravines.
“Oh yeah, they are plenty around. But did you see the white one?”
White deer? No, I’ve never seen one.” I said to her.
“Well, if you get lucky you might see one. It only shows up for certain people.”
We said goodbye and she went back to tending her garden.
When I got back to our Airbnb, I asked the host about the white deer and she said she has never seen one and she’s been in this property for over 5 years. Interesting I thought.
The next morning, I made myself a coffee and as I opened the sliding door to look at the ravine down below, I saw her…standing a few feet from the door.
She looked right at me!
Speechless and shocked but I quickly acknowledged her grace, she nodded, and then made a swift about-face and galloped down the hill to the herd, where they were grazing.
I put down my coffee and grabbed my phone to take this picture.
I told everyone about it, but they didn’t believe me. Luckily I have a picture of this moment, albeit grainy because of the distance.
She looked magnificent. With her long and graceful neck, she grazed with rhythm, certainty and providence. Yes, providence–she is a goddess and acted like one.
I had forgotten about it, but my conversation today with someone reminded me of this moment. She shared with me the significance of a white deer.
So after our conversation, I googled the subject and here are some bits of what I found:
“Usually, white animals were seen during soul-quests or vision-quests…. When white occurs in the animal realm, it is a message of:
- higher thoughts
- higher ideals
- purity of soul
- cleansing of spirit
- attaining higher knowledge ”
“King Arthur’s repeatedly unsuccessful pursuit of the white stag represents mankind’s quest for spiritual knowledge….”
A coincidence or a prophecy?
I didn’t go to England on vacation. I went there for some spiritual enlightenment. And whether my purpose, transformation and spiritual quest have anything to do with this encounter…it’s anyone’s guess.
All I know is that I’ve never been the same.
There are people out there who are ready to hand you their money.
But there are also people who are not even aware they have a problem that you can solve, so it will take more time for you to make them want your product or service. That’s why it’s important to know that not all prospects are the same.
This is obvious.
Yet, almost all salespeople treat all potential buyers the same way.
What you say to a prospect, and how to say it should be unique, based on where they are at as a buyer. Because each prospect is at a certain point in the buyer’s journey.
What is a buyer’s journey?
It’s a cognitive process that the buyers go through to become aware of, evaluate (the product/service), and make the buying decision. They are categorized into 4 categories:
1. Desperate Buyers
These are the buyers that have been looking for what you offer and they needed it yesterday. They are ready to buy whatever it is you’re selling and they are the easiest to sell to. You simply ask the call-to-action question:
- How many would you like?
- How soon do you want it?
- How would you like to pay for it?
- How do you want it delivered?
Know them and treat them accordingly by focusing on answering their questions and saying very little.
About 3% of your prospects will be desperate buyers.
2. The Not-So Desperate Buyers
They are neither desperate nor in a hurry. They want to think it over. They are receptive to buying but may not show it. They are interested and may say, “Not right now.” But they are willing to listen and check it out. Given the right offer and the right approach, they will buy. To sell to them, you simply need to know what they want, and effectively position yourself and your product to match that need. Add urgency to nudge them along. Apply step 4 & 5 of the sales process and you’ll get them.
3. The Mild No
They say no, but it’s a mild rejection. It’s not a “hell no”. They are not firm and they don’t give the impression that they might change their mind. They say things like “Not right now” or “I’d love to, but no.” They have a legitimate objection that you need to uncover and handle–step 7 of the sales process. Maybe there is something they don’t like, or are not impressed by your offer. Maybe they don’t like what you are saying (your approach). Whatever it is, you need to work on removing that obstacle before you can get ahead.
These Mild No buyers can be turned into Yes Buyers with the right skill.
4. The Absolutely No
These people either don’t have the need for your product, dislike your offer, or hate your guts. Dig deeper to find out which one it is. If they don’t have the need for your offer, ask them if they know someone who does. It’s absolutely pointless to try to convince this buyer. You may get the sale eventually if you are very persuasive, or apply pressure, but they’ll hate you for it and definitely will not mention you to their friends. If it’s the case of dislike or hate, you can actually use this to your advantage and do a repair action (sort of a public relation job to change their views). I teach how to handle this type in my advance coaching.
Selling to any these types is not rocket science, but you do need to know how to do it.
I took a limo from my hotel to Dallas airport this week. It wasn’t because I have a wad of cash to throw around. I just blew my budget on the conference.
But rather, I was informed by the hotel concierge that over 7,000 Mary Kay reps are in town and have used up all available taxis. Impressive! I guess they left their pink Cadillacs at home.
So he offered me the privilege of a limo for the price of a taxi.
I was picked up right on time by the limo service owner himself, and we started chatting on our way to the airport. I loved talking to taxi (and limo) drivers because they always seem to know the best place to eat and the best place to go. They have their ears and pulse on the city—wherever I go.
The driver, named Abdullah, asked me what I do for a living, and I said, “I am a sales trainer. I train salespeople how to sell without being pushy.”
“Perfect! You should teach car salespeople how to sell!” he exclaimed.
Then he proceeded to tell me how a pushy salesman lost a big sale. His story went something like this: He went into a GM dealership with the intention of buying six luxury SUVs for his business. He knew what he wanted. He spent months researching and needed to see the cars and test them. But as soon as he walked into the dealership, the salesman was onto him. He was “breathing on my neck,” he said, “telling me all kinds of specs I didn’t care about.” So Mr. Abdullah left the shop in a hurry.
“He treated me like a moron—someone who knew nothing about cars. I am a businessman who researches what I need before I go shopping. All I wanted him to do was help me—not sell to me,” he said.
So he went to another dealership. He told me how he purchased his six Lincoln Navigators from this one dealership!
I felt sorry for that person who lost a BIG commission. That’s a month worth of commission in one sales transaction.
“I walked in, and the salesman came to greet me and he said: ‘all our best cars are here in our showroom. Take time to check them out, get to know them, and if you need to take one of them for a spin, I am right here to hand you the key.’ That’s it, and I was left alone. After that, I told him what I wanted, and the price I wanted to pay. He helped me get what I wanted. I left the shop a very happy man.”
Sounds like a beautiful, calm, and very professional kind of transition.
Truth is, we make more sales not trying too hard. This reminds me of a quote from a guy named Gary Halbert who said: “you can sell more by not selling”.
What’s the moral of the story here?
First assess, then ask questions to fully understand what the prospective buyer is after. What matters to them and prepare to really listen. Because what you THINK may not be what they are after.
Never assumed. Once you understand what they are looking for, then, only then can you make suggestions. Jump all over them with your overly enthusiastic persona, and you’ll overwhelm them.
Our eagerness to help people as soon as they appear is our biggest fault and cause of failed sales.
“How much?” I asked.
“Twelve euros,” she responded.
I turned the hat over, inspecting it; trying to decide if I want to spend that much on a cotton hat (I already have half a dozen hats sitting prettily at home).
Then she reminded me of my desire—to not burn my face: “It’s very hot today, and your gorgeous face will thank you for covering it.”
She didn’t try to justify the price. She was confident that I would not go away without a hat on my head in the middle of a hot day. I was 90% sold, but I was still hesitant. I was hoping I’d find a hat that was made in Europe instead of China. She picked up on my hesitation. “What’s holding you back?”
“I was hoping for something made from here” I said.
She turned around, grabbed a bright red hat from the rack and handed it to me. “Thirty euros.” read more…
Do you feel at times like you’re stuck in mud or molasses?
Unmoving—in life or business?
There is one simple trick to get yourself moving forward in the right direction.
In the late 80s, one of the most gruelling jobs I’ve ever held was a position as Hotel Front Desk/Receptionist at a Ramada Inn. It involved greeting and registering arriving guests, as well as answering incoming calls—sometimes all at once. The job demanded multi-tasking skills and the ability to refrain from yelling obscenities when under pressure. read more…
I have had a long-standing relationship with sales that, no matter what I do, somehow manages take on jobs that relate to sales… in some aspect.
Sometimes, it’s all love (when the buyer believe I descended from heaven and granted her wish).
Other times, it’s full of uncertainty.
It all started when my mother dragged me by the ears (maybe I am exaggerating a little) during one of her sales escapades. I use the term escapade because she loved doing it. But the truth was, that’s how we fed ourselves—selling stuff—so it was also a life and death matter for us. Unless you hustle, you starved. That was the norm. But she was so passionate about it, I never saw her struggle with it. She thrived on it, like a car needing gas to keep running. read more…
…and What You Can Do About It
One of the worst things that I’ve seen people do is to try to sell to everyone with a human head.
You see it often.
You are at an event and, just to be polite, you make small talk by asking people what they do for a living (by the way, this is sooo inauthentic)—then you regret that you’ve asked!
You regret asking because the person takes this as an “interest” cue and goes right into offence mode and begin to bombard you with a lonngggggg sales pitch that you start to feel like running away.
So you retreat (and curse yourself) for asking the question.
This is one of the primary reasons networking events stress people out; it’s the uncertainty of what to do.
The Best Approach
I know… I know! That’s what we’ve learned in sales school: to “sell the benefits, NOT the features.”
“Sell the benefits” is a phrase that’s been drilled into my brain ever since I started sales.
And it makes sense, right?
So what am I talking about?
Hear me out…
Years ago, I was pitching my website development service to a spa owner when I realized that the prospect didn’t know what she needed.
She didn’t know what a “fresh and easy-to-manage website” could do for her business. Selling her a “maintenance-free” website was useless since she didn’t even have a website and thus really didn’t care about maintaining something she didn’t have. Telling her all the benefits of having a website was not REAL to her.
But easy-to-maintain websites were the key benefit of working with me. It was how I differentiated myself from other website designers.
Then I remembered this quote:
“Sell them what they want, not what they need.”
…and What You Can Do About It
As sales people and business owners, it’s easy to get so wrapped up or fall in love with our products (or services) that we don’t allow ourselves to see the sales conversation through the eyes of the prospect.
And I think this is a big mistake.
When we look at the sales process from the prospect’s point of view, we may discover the reason behind the “NO” and can take action. read more…