We hate to be sold to but love to buy!

Some people seem to have the sales ‘thing’ and others don’t.  How often have we said this as an excuse when we have failed to achieve sales’ targets. And we are not even sure what that ‘thing’ is. We only know that we haven’t got it.

There is a paradox at the heart of selling. It is that we hate to be sold but love to buy and the skill is around understanding this process. And all of us can learn –it is not a genetic inheritance.

I was working with a group of very bright young people (they all spoke at least 8 languages each) who were charged with selling wine to hotels and bars around the world. When asked how they achieved sales the word they used was ‘efficiently’. Their relationship was by telephone and they got their orders as quickly as possible with no fuss and no frills. When asked how they liked to buy they all said they wanted a salesperson to listen to what they wanted, treat them with respect and help them to decide with no pressure. Fascinatingly that was not how they sold.

A workshop later and the director was phoning me asking what I had done to them as sales had gone through the roof.

So here are the skills I suggested to that group.

  • We like to buy from people we like. Smiling helps. And you can hear a smile over the phone. The bored and depressed do nothing for us except produce an immediate desire to avoid them. Getting to know your buyer and being really interested in them is a major sales skill. We buy the person as well as the product.
  • Here is the heart of the sales dilemma. Poor sellers think that to sell they need to talk. Features, benefits, special offers, it all floods out. Good sellers listen avidly asking relevant questions about what the potential buyer likes and wants then selects what might suit.
  • Knee jerk thinking. We all have knee jerk reactions that help us to make swift buying decisions. For example discount=bargain or expensive=good. How could you use that language when you sell your product? Experiment and use what works.
  • Enthusiasm conquers all – well almost all. If you can’t be enthusiastic about what you are selling why should someone else? However avoid missionary zeal as that glint of madness in the eye is off-putting to a purchaser.

I was sitting in a glass fronted office in an Orlando timeshare development a number of years ago. Jolly holidaymakers in the hope of free Disney tickets were herded towards waiting sales people. First to disappear was their joie de vivre then they all moved back a step. After 10 minutes they were looking around wildly for a means of escape. The traditional ‘sell’ was being enacted before my eyes; talking all the time with huge pressure to buy.

So in summary smile and get to know your buyer, listen, give them what they want, offer deals, relax and be enthusiastic. It works.