A recent survey asking what entrepreneurs fear most about selling revealed some very common fears that I think apply or have applied to most people at some point in their careers. The ability to sell is a skill that everyone in business needs to master, but a surprising number of entrepreneurs find it a challenge.
In the survey carried out by Business2Community.com, the top fears that were on the mind of many respondents were:
• Being seen as too pushy
• Not being able to get the prospect to see the value in their product/service
• Getting rejected because of price
• Having difficulty starting the sales conversation
Do any of those sound familiar to you? I bet they do. So what can you do if you are suffering from any of these fears right now?
Being seen as too pushy
One of our favourite sayings is “very few of us like being sold to but everyone is open to influence”. We all know when someone is trying to sell to us, and most people find this off putting, feeling the salesperson is more interested in the sale than in meeting their particular needs. However most of us are not aware when we are being influenced. One useful technique is to use the concept of pace-pace-lead as a subtle way of gently initiating a sales conversation. It involves questioning and carefully listening to understand the prospects real needs, seeing the problem from their point of view, acknowledging their problem and showing that you understand it, and then adding insight and value to illustrate how you can help them solve that problem.
Communicating product/service value
If you have asked the right questions and listened carefully, you will understand the details of the prospect’s problem and how you can truly add value. But quite often we can be busy thinking about what we are going to say next, or how we can jump in and illustrate why they should buy from us, without taking the time to listen and build a connection with that person. If you change your mindset away from selling and think instead about how you can help someone then you will naturally want to listen, to empathise and you will communicate the value more naturally.
Getting rejected because of price
If you have communicated the value effectively through questioning and active listening, then you have also had an opportunity to qualify the prospect and get an idea of how likely they are to buy from you. Remember you also need to take the time to establish your credibility, and to build up trust. If you have done all of this then price shouldn’t be an issue. Remember that objections are really a request for more information and are an opportunity to show again the value of your product or service, so don’t be put off by them. However, if you are rejected, take the time to think through what happened during the sales conversation and use this as an opportunity to learn and improve and perhaps try doing things slightly differently next time.
Difficulty starting conversation
If you have difficulty in starting a sales conversation then it might be that you are over-thinking things. It’s a good idea to start by asking questions to see if that can naturally lead into a sales conversation. If you still find it hard then consider if perhaps it might be a question of belief – that you don’t fully believe in yourself or your product/service. If this might be the case then you can work on reminding yourself of the best work you have done, and the positive feedback you have had from customers and clients.
The ability to sell is something that we all have within us – whether you are an extrovert of introvert, you can find your authentic sales approach and what works for you. But the fundamental fact is that you can’t build a thriving business if you can’t get people to do what you want and buy from you. Fortunately selling is an easily learnable skill once you take the time to think about what is holding you back.