I know that when in my teens and going to dances/discos/clubs, whatever, there were some guys who NEVER had any difficulty in asking someone to dance. Straight up, out onto the floor and BANG! No problem! Oh, were it so easy for the rest of us!
Why is this? Most likely, fear of rejection and hearing that awful word “NO!”? Fear of failure and made to feel small? Any person who doesn’t admit to feeling somewhat like this at some point in their lives is trying to fool you. We all experience fears like this and no more so than in sales.
Some people say it’s a numbers game. The more you ask, the better you get at asking and the more success comes your way. A famous oil magnate when asked why he was so successful said “we drill more holes”. Fair point! If you approach and get in front of more people, the chances of success must increase. Talking to more people (= prospects), means you get better at it. Your vocabulary improves. Your descriptions of the features and benefits are far sharper. You perfect your pitch.
Try it out on one of your colleagues who is responsible for growing sales. Simulate a scenario where you approach a new prospect. What does the person say first, second, third...and so on? How would you rank that now out of 100? Where are there areas for improvement? If there are gaps, fix them now.
Sometimes it is approaching to ask for an appointment at some future date when you have more time. Tie the date and time down if possible there and then. If you are failing at this hurdle, it’s time to look at what you are saying that is turning people off meeting you for a (free) coffee and cake.
As mentioned in earlier blogs, if you notice yourself straying into FEATURES rather than BENEFITS, you will generally turn prospects off. So, tell yourself in future that the process you will follow to approach and ask prospects for appointments, WILL WORK. Self-belief and confidence is critical here.
Approaching prospects is like asking that person out on a date or to dance; you must BELIEVE and have the confidence that this WILL WORK; that the answer will be YES. If the answer is a definite NO without any possibility, politely accept it and move on.
The trick is not to take this “no”, personally (I know that might be difficult), however, in sales, view “no” as merely an opportunity to try again. Is the first impression you are making, not quite on the money. I advise you to check out your “spiel”, your “patter” as they call it. Are you coming across as “too hard sell” or even “too soft sell”? There is a happy medium and it is up to you to practice, practice and practice again until you get it right and perfect it.
Go on a sales programme, a presentation skills programme, get yourself videoed…everything counts. It is quite amazing what one sees when one gets a chance to observe the self on screen.
I didn’t realise I used to click my heels when ‘on stage’ as I was making a point or moving on to the next part of presentations. WHAT!!!! I couldn’t believe it. There it was…click, click, click…and it was only by it being videoed and pointed out that I learned to eliminate it. When I think back on how many people I may have irritated in the past, I blush!
You can’t be shy in sales. I have seen great salespeople who are what I would classify as “grinders and minders”. That is, when they get the warmed-up gig/lead/prospect, they can look after the client very well. However, sales begin with and is very much about “FINDING”, not just grinding and minding. Perfect your hunter/gatherer skills for greater success. Don’t be shy. Tell people about what you do and what you can offer.
I recall sales expert Brian Tracy telling us of an old rhyme that says it all about sales:
He who has a thing to sell
And goes and (shhh) whispers in a well,
Is not likely to get the dollars
As he who climbs a tree and HOLLERS.
So, go holler!
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