By: Guy Anastaze
Regardless of the age or scale of your business, its true raison d’être is customers. Essential for the survival of any business, customers must be taken care of over the long term. This is one fundamental reason why selling is coaching your clients: Even if their preferences are not always clearly expressed or felt (or even fully conscious), your customers know in their heart what they want. They are also quick to identify what they do not want, sometimes revealing interesting ways of exploring what they actually do want.
Your role as a salesperson, sales manager or head of your own business is to help raise customers’ awareness of their needs, their true desires, what they love… to clarify available options and lay out realistic final choices, ultimately assisting them in making a choice which benefits them in the long term.
Any purchase represents an act of change, which people are naturally resistant to. Your second role as a salesperson should therefore be to accompany your client in this act of change, measuring their ability to find the resources to overcome this fear of change and become fully and consciously happy with their choice.
These two elements of setting out the choices for your clients and ultimately helping them to accept their final decision – and the relationship between the two – are at the heart of the attitude which defines a successful seller.
So what essential characteristics can a seller draw from a professional coach in order to enhance their ability to develop strong customer relationships over the long term?
Consider the mantra – popular in the States – “people buy from people they like.” While there may be some truth in this saying, a more appropriate formulation would be: “people buy from people they trust.” Trust that defines the customer’s willingness to buy. Regardless of other aspects of your character, a failure to inspire trust will make it difficult to close deals.
Indeed this is one of the primary reasons for negative perceptions of the sales profession: too many people having placed their trust in someone only to be disappointed. In these situations, the level of responsibility of the client – whether they were taken advantage of or, more accurately, let themselves be taken advantage of, doesn’t make any difference. It is essential to develop a well-deserved position of trust, built upon the repetition of small events designed to reinforce this trust day-to-day.
The truth that trust may be built over several months and destroyed within a few seconds may be obvious, but is all too often disregarded. As trust is established, for example, beginner salespeople often avoid saying things which they believe could be disturbing to their clients due to a reluctance to risk damaging the trust they have developed so far. This behaviour is counter-productive. Instead of using the freedom afforded by the trust they have already established, these salespeople restrain themselves, limiting the strength of their sincerity. Trust is truly attained, by contrast, when one can say almost anything.
The foundation of trust can be reduced to three main components: sincerity, respect and empathy.
These then, are some of the essential characteristics which will distinguish a salesperson within their profession, making them a valued and sought-after negotiator and potentially one of the best in their profession.
Guy explores the depth and complexity of the sales profession in Authentic Selling: How to boost your sales performance by being yourself. Is selling an art, or a science? What is the key to true long-term success in the sales? Why has it become an unpopular profession and how can its nobility be restored? Above all, explore why selling starts when the customer says no. Authentic Selling will help you to unlock these secrets and more.