The most recent MEG roundtable discussion focused on sales skills. For many business owners and professionals, selling is a fundamental part of what they do, but they may not be entirely comfortable in this role.
Sales skills are not always easy to acquire or practice, and some of this may be down to perceptions of what salesmanship involves.
The received wisdom is that people don’t like to be sold to. But there’s more to it than this.
People don’t like to be sold to unless they’re ready to buy.
This might shed a different light on salesmanship as a skill, where it is about allowing people to feel they can buy from you, once they realise they need what you’re offering.
However, to get to this stage takes effort and perseverance to build the right relationships first.
In business, sales can feel like a baptism of fire if it’s something that either you have little experience in, or doesn’t feel natural to you.
But sales needn’t feel unnatural if you treat it as an extension of your own personality. This means engaging with others as yourself, and relaxing into your role.
Authentic salesmanship means selling to people who want something from you, rather than attempting to persuade people to buy something they don’t want.
This helps overcome a sense of reluctance about the idea of selling and it comes back to the concept of making the most of your unique selling proposition to differentiate yourself in the marketplace.
There is still the question of closing the deal, though.
The Follow Up
For many business owners the route to selling their services is via networking, using it as a springboard for their marketing.
This will only work, however, if, at the end of the process, they can follow up to make a sale.
The difficulty for many of us is that we receive no sales training when we learn our business. This applies as much to professional services as it does to other service providers and even entrepreneurs.
It is important, therefore, to see salesmanship as a desirable quality that should fully integrate with other business skills.
After all, if no one did any selling, the economy would grind to a halt. The world is built on sales.
The key is not to focus solely on the sale. Provide professional and personal value to customers first, then sell them a solution.
Embracing your inner salesperson isn’t about adopting some sort of monstrously pushy persona, but rather working out how to move from a relationship to a transaction.
The good news is that what often happens is that transactions emerge naturally out of strong business relationships.
If the trust is there, the sale follows.
What are the tips for embracing salesmanship if you’re not a natural salesperson?
- Focus on your customer’s success by bringing insights to them to add value, so that they reach the point where they ask how you could help them.
- Explore your relationship. This requires a degree of boldness. Ask open-ended questions.
- Give the customer the opportunity to shape the discussion, so you don’t appear pushy.
- Believe completely in the solution you’re offering. If you do this, then the transaction can be the beginning of a fruitful relationship, rather than simply the culmination of one.
Business Networking With Added Value
Visit MEG at Colony Piccadilly, and experience the benefits of mutually supportive, friendly networking without feeling the pressure of having to market yourself.