Always Be Closing: How I learned to sell

person giving fruit to another

I used to think of myself as “not a natural sales person”. I now know this is far from the truth, and that I am actually quite good at selling what I believe in. Make no mistake, this was a very intentional journey. Here, I’ll walk through the actions I took to realise my truth as a sales person.

Understanding who selling is actually about

Selling is about the customer. When pitching an idea, product or service, the pitch should be about the benefits the product offers the customer. Instead of “buy this fireplace, it’s hot and is black and made of metal”, it should be “buy this fireplace, it will keep you warm during the winter, and fits well into the design of your home”.

A more concrete example; “buy my service, so we can increase our revenue” versus “buy my service, we’ll increase your revenue”.

Sales is about offering value for a fair market price. It’s not slimy or anything like that. It’s the lifeblood of an economy.

A stoic approach

You have two ears and one mouth and it’s best to use them in that proportion.

Stoic philosopher

Put simply: listen twice as much as you speak. The goal here is to develop an intimate understanding of the customer’s needs and desires.

On skills and strengths

Understanding the difference between a “skill” and a “strength” is paramount to learning anything new. A strength is something we naturally possess. We’re born with it. If there is an approach you take naturally in certain scenarios, this is a strength. For example, approaching a scenario with empathy or as a “peace keeper” is a strength. If you default your thinking to being analytical, this is a strength.

A skill is something anyone can learn. Being good at algebra, writing code, designing a website. These are all skills. While we may not all be the best at selling, sales too is a skill and can be learned by anyone.

Stand of the shoulders of giants

From the moment I decided “I am a sales person” (one can say multiple “I am”s for one’s life), I committed to learning as much as I could about this skill, from a variety of sources. I listened closely when speaking with anyone in sales, I observed how they sold to others, and I read several books on the concept. Reading fits well into my existing daily ready habit (check out my reading lists), so this was a natural fit. Pick the learning modality which works best for your needs (reading, video, blog articles, webinars, etc).

The key is to learn from others who have come before you. The only difference between you and them is that they’re a few books and a few sales calls ahead of you.

Books which particularly stood out include;

Here be Dragons by Richard Mulholland. A practical guide to crafting your pitch, how to master the sales pitch call, when to schedule the call, and how to respond to various situations. The concept is to identify the customer’s dragons, and slay them with your offering.

$100M Offers by Alex Hormozi. How to think bigger. Alex shares several concepts (value stacking, being key to these) on how to craft a $100M offer. A key takeaway for me is to make the offer so irresistible, the customer has a hard time saying “no”, regardless of the price. They understand that the value they receive (or perceive, in some cases) is far greater than the price paid.

Exactly What to Say by Phil M. Jones. Sometimes, I get tripped up on exactly what to say in different scenarios. This short book offers several tips for how to start a pitch call, how to entice a customer who isn’t fully bought in yet, and a variety of other golden tips. Highly recommended.

ABC: Always Be Closing

It’s important to learn and remember your ABCs. A deal isn’t a deal unless you close the deal. While this may seem like “taking the hard sell”, I see it as being about remembering that there is a commitment conversation here. Focusing on the value you bring to the prospective customer, and then moving to the close once the customer is comfortable with the value they are receiving, is key.

Belief is everything

Ultimately, if you don’t believe in the value you’re offering, you’re sunk from the start. Authenticity is key. Customers can quickly pick up when you’re not authentic, and don’t believe in your own offering. While some customers may be easily enough influenced to not see the lack of authenticity, being a sales person who relies on the gullibility of their customers isn’t a long term strategy.

If you don’t believe in your offering, go back to the drawing board and stay there until your offering is something you believe in. Make the necessary changes. Understand the value you’re adding for customers.

If you believe in your offering, so will your prospective customers.

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