How can Anyone Excel at Influencing & Sales?
For a sales professional there are a myriad of training courses and books on how to improve sales skills. Most of these skills cover technical points and mindset training such as: demonstrating value, improving the customer’s business, managing expectations, asking the right questions, cold calling techniques, closing etc. These are all valuable, but what about the non-sales practitioners? What about those individuals who own their own business? You have not had any sales or influencing training and experience. In fact, such training would be far too detailed for what you need and you don’t necessarily want to become a sales expert.
As an independent professional, or small business owner, you are an expert in your field. You have spent years honing your craft and becoming the best at what you do. You now want to touch more lives and help as many people as possible. One problem, you soon realise that unless you can sell yourself not many people will work with you. Plus, if you don’t get enough people to work with you, your income is seriously affected. Such a state can affect your confidence and even lead you to question whether going alone was a good idea.
Most of you are not necessarily interested in becoming sales and marketing experts; but you know that it is vital to your income growth. So, this series of articles is designed to give you the fundamentals to growing your business through effective sales and marketing. The idea is not to make you an expert, but to give you the fundamental knowledge and tools to improve your sales results and grow your business.
This article will focus on the first of three fundamentals (we will cover the other 2 shortly afterwards).
What are the fundamentals?
At its core sales and marketing is about 3 things:
· Connecting with people
· Sharing ideas
· Convincing someone to change and act.
Now, this may seem simplistic, but you can almost categorise any sales and marketing process into one of these 3 things.
Connecting with People
There is a saying in sales that “People have the money you want”. Not companies, not institutions, but people. Whether you are marketing, or selling, you need to connect with people in order to make the sale and get the money. Tony Robbins often states that “Proximity is Power”, so if people have the money you want, then you need to be as close to them as possible in order to sell your services.
If you are going to connect with people, then you are obviously going to need to understand the person you are connecting with. If you want to really connect with them, then you will need to know what motivates them, what do they fear, what are their wants and desires.
So, remember that the first step to selling, or marketing, your services is to establish a connection. There are 2 parts to establishing a connection: quality and quantity.
The more connections you make, the more chances you have to make a sale. It is why salespeople are often measured on how many interactions they have. The less interactions, the less opportunities to make a sale. The same principle goes for marketing. Two commonly-used metrics are Reach (number of people you touch with your marketing) and Frequency (number of times you touch each person with your message).
The number of people you have contact with is critical to your success. As an independent consultant, coach or even a small company, if you are spending less than 50% of your time connecting with people, you are not making enough connections to grow your business.
So, think about the connections you are making for your business. Are you:
· Spending enough time connecting with as many people as possible in your minimum viable audience?
· Understanding the individual you are engaging with to ensure that you are making a genuine connection?
· Setting targets on the number of connections you make?
People often make the mistake of jumping straight to the tactics like questioning, having an angle, being able to talk about your service and closing. But, the fundamental thing to remember is that all those things are about making a strong connection with someone. If you don’t ask smart questions, you are not making a good connection. If you don’t take the time to research the company or person you are engaging with, you will not make a connection.
Don’t focus on the tactics, for now. First, focus on how you can make a genuine and powerful connection with the person you wish to market or speak to. Then think about the tactics to achieve this. To connect effectively, you should understand what motivates the person you are connecting with. We will discuss the details in later articles, but for now it is important to understand the 3 main drivers for a sales connection:
· Fear (you might be thinking that fear is an emotion but read on for why I have separated this).
Contrary to what you may have heard, people buy things based on emotions. It is the dominant reason. They then justify their decision using logic. Now, you might say that your product is very high end and decisions are not made through emotions; but I would say that even at that level emotions are the primary driver.
Think about it, we buy things because it makes us feel a certain way. There may be some logical steps in the process, but the result is that the purchase makes someone feel an emotion. For a health coach, this could be the emotion of feeling more energised, reducing stress or removing discomfort with their current lifestyle. For an executive coach, this would be the feeling of success and progress. For a financial adviser, this would be the feeling of financial security for your family, or being able to demonstrate that you are financially savvy. Even if you sell to a company, you are still selling to an individual or group of people. They may have desires to feel powerful, a sense of accomplishment, professional standing, pride etc. All of these satisfy an emotion that they will feel when they benefit from your product or service.
Take the time to ascertain what emotions your product and services give to someone. What should they feel when they receive the benefits of your expertise? How does that compare with their current state and does your service create a significant change from their current state? Are you using such languages in your discussion and do you use emotional drivers when you are describing the value that you provide?
Note: we will discuss some techniques of how to get someone to explain and describe their emotional drivers when we cover Convincing Someone to Act and Change.
Understanding someone’s emotional drivers will enable you to tailor your offering to satisfy their wants (not needs; we will cover the difference in a later article). They will feel that what you offer is relevant to them and you are understanding their wants. They will feel more connected to you and will ultimately be more likely to work with you.
There is another side to understanding a person’s emotional drivers; you will also gain insight into what they fear. We all know that fear is a powerful emotional driver. Knowing someone’s fears will help you understand why they are hesitant to work with you. This can help you prepare some talking points around how to overcome those fears and show your prospect that their fear is:
1. Not as high as they perceive (this is often the case where the fear is built up far more than reality)
2. Causing more pain than the action you are proposing.
In the end, understanding, empathising and connecting with your prospect’s/client’s emotions will help you:
1. Articulate your benefits in a more powerful way
2. Demonstrate the connection you have with them
3. Show that you understand them
4. Enable you to tailor what you are saying to resonate with them
5. Enable you to surface and overcome any fears they have for indecision.
The first step to any sales or marketing process is to think about how you want to connect with someone. I call this ‘Astral Projection Sales’. Try to project yourself into the heart and mind of the person you are trying to connect with. Seek to become them. Too often we talk about our perspective or why we believe our product/service is so great, without really thinking about the perspective of the buyer. Whether you are creating an ad, speaking to someone, or making a group presentation, make sure that your overriding objective is to make a powerful connection. Use language that will resonate with your audience and talk as if you are them. This takes practice but is so powerful that it is worth it!
Think about the dominant emotions that person has and what are the dominant, positive emotions you want them to feel when they benefit from working with you. Use words and imagery that will get the person to feel those dominant emotions. Don’t forget to consider the fears that will get in the way and plan how you can overcome them. Fear is incredibly powerful. Our brains are wired to quickly identify and avoid danger. In fact, the part of our brain that is responsible for assimilating emotions, the Amygdala, is so effective that the neural connection pathways are shorter than those to the logical portion of our brain, the Prefrontal Cortex. In his book, Daniel Goleman explains how because of that short structure, our brains are designed so that responses to potential threats will almost always override any higher-level thinking. The result is that we are constantly scanning for potential threats. Anyone trying to sell to us is trying to part us with our money and that is definitely perceived as a threat. Where there is a threat, we will focus on that emotion and try to prevent it occurring, rather than use our higher-level, logical thinking. That is why predominantly using logical reasons in your presentation is not going to address the dominant emotion your audience is feeling.
People fear making a mistake, they fear making decisions and they also fear change. Irrational fear is an apt description of how fear can sometimes make no sense, yet it will easily determine the decisions we make. It is therefore vital that you consider the fears of your buyers and work to reduce those fears. Get them to instead think of the positive emotional impact when using your product or service. This will enhance the connection you make.
Finally, don’t just focus on the quality of your connection. It goes without saying that if you increase the quantity of high-quality connections, you increase the number of powerful connections you make. More powerful connections equal more chances of a sale. Some people describe this as ‘the hustle’ or ‘grind’. Those terms can have negative connotations, so I personally view my work as ‘helping as many people as possible’. This motivates me to reach out to as many people as I can because I am so passionate about helping them. What words would you use to positively describe how you need to put in the effort to increase your number of connections?
Essentially, this is about how much effort, and time, you dedicate to making more quality connections. Measure the number of hours you spend dedicated to making high quality connections. Is it enough to achieve your financial goals? What could you do to raise that number?
How have you successfully connected with people, either personally or professionally? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below. I also welcome any topic suggestions for future articles.
About Moeed Amin:
I help entrepreneurs and independent professionals grow their income. Most business leaders are excellent at their craft, but to become a successful business you need to become excellent at sales and marketing. Unfortunately, there is too much confusion out there on how to excel at the commercials. My experience, and research centres, bring you cutting-edge insights and training to help give you an edge and grow your sales. To learn more, get in touch by visiting www.proverbialdoor.com.