So many people I know are hesitant to sell. They’re hesitant to sell themselves. They’re hesitant to sell their products or services. And they’re hesitant to sell their business.
It’s easy to understand, right? As soon as I mention the word ‘sell,’ what goes through your mind? For me I think of the pushy people in the appliance store. You know, the vultures hovering around waiting for the next carrion to fall through the door. Or the guy at the car dealership who goes through some pavlovian response the minute you have a question.
We just don’t think well of selling, do we? Which means we probably have some ideas that stand in the way of us selling, as well.
But we don’t have to be obnoxious to sell! The obnoxious ones are not the best salesmen. The best salesmen sell you without your ever knowing they were selling to you. They engage you, understand your need, and help you fill it. That’s it.
A little while back I was having dinner with a couple of friends. Now you’ve been to dinner, many times I’m sure: Your waitperson usually greets you, shares the specials, and then asks for a drink order. They scamper off and return shortly with your drinks and to take your order. Sometimes they may ask if you want an appetizer. But overall, it’s usually a version of this experience in just about any restaurant.
But that’s not what Jennifer, our server, did.
After getting our drink order, Jennifer gently asked for our attention. We all picked up our menus and were guided by Jennifer through some of her favorite dishes as well as the house signature dishes. But she didn’t just point out or describe each dish. Rather she brought them alive. She described each dish in a way that you could almost taste it. It was a joy to watch her. I couldn’t get the smile off my face. And by the time she was done, I was salivating (literally). Sure, I was hungry. But now my senses were engaged in the dinner, and I couldn’t wait to try the food. Really, this was probably the best example of selling that I’ve ever seen in a restaurant.
Jennifer’s presentation was so good that we talked about it around the table for a few minutes afterward. Now how many restaurants have you gone to where you talk about your server’s ‘sales pitch’ when they walk away? There was absolutely no push. She did this so naturally there was no feeling that we were being sold to. Yet each of us couldn’t wait to try the food.
So what did Jennifer do that was different from every other server I’ve had in the past few years?
Better yet, how can you use her tactics to better sell your products or services?
- Don’t sell. If someone’s contacting you, they have some level of interest already. In Jennifer’s case, we were sitting down at a table in a restaurant so we were obviously hungry. What she did was not try to sell us a dish or an appetizer. Instead she gave us information we needed to make good meal choices.
- Engage people. One of the most impressive things about Jennifer was that she was engaged with us fully. When she took us on the tour through the menu, I felt like she was genuinely interested in my getting the perfect meal for me. Not the upsell or add-on and not the meal she liked – but the meal I would love.
- Be authentic. Oddly, it takes practice to be natural in sales. But just being yourself is all it takes. Use what you’re comfortable with in yourself when you’re selling. With Jennifer it was clear that she is a warm and caring person by nature. So she allowed that to come through in her sales presentation to make each of us feel like she genuinely cared about how much we’d enjoy our meal.
- Be transparent. Be real with people. If you don’t know something, be honest about it. There’s nothing wrong with finding out the answer and getting back to someone. There was a point later in the meal where Jennifer was uncertain if the kitchen could prepare a dish a certain way, so she excused herself, asked, and returned with the answer. Didn’t diminish our experience at all. Enhanced it, actually.
- Know what you’re selling. To be comfortable with what you’re selling, you’ve got to know it. Even if you’re the product or service creator, you really need to know what you’re selling. Jennifer knew the menu like the back of her hand. Hence, she was able to answer questions with confidence and certainty.
- Know whom you’re selling to. This is so often missed…you’ve got to know whom you’re selling to. Not the person so much, as their need, their likes, their dislikes. That means, listen. Listen to what their need is first. I watched Jennifer closely. During the drink order (before the menu presentation), she went around the table and got to know each person just a tiny bit. I didn’t ask her, but my guess is she was getting a small idea of what each of us would enjoy for dinner.
- Match their problem to your solution. If you’ve listened well, people will often tell you what problem they’ve called you for help with. Assuming, of course that you can solve their problem, match your solution to their problem. Don’t get them to change their problem so you can sell them your solution. Jennifer asked a few of us what we had a taste for. She listened first, then made suggestions from what she learned.
- Remember, it’s okay to sell. Selling isn’t a dirty thing. Really, we’re selling all the time – our thoughts, our ideas, our beliefs, etc. So selling is natural. The oddities come in when money’s involved. And there’s nothing wrong with selling what you have to someone who needs it and making money, even a lot of money, from it. It’s just an exchange. Jennifer’s efforts left her with a huge tip. A friend’s company picked up the bill. So we left Jennifer an enormous tip and actually talked to her about her sales techniques. Isn’t that ultimately why she does what she does? Nothing wrong with that.
Really, I’m skimming the surface here. The important point, I think, is that proper selling has nothing to do with the sleezy, obnoxious vultures who have given selling a bad wrap. Selling done well is an art form. And how do you get better with your art? Be authentic, be transparent, and practice your technique.
I’d love to know what your best sales experience has been.
Even better, what do you do to effectively sell your products or services? And if you find selling difficult, what could you do better?
About Dawud Miracle
One thing I know without a doubt – no matter your comfort level with the web you can have a successful website for your business without overwhelm. My mission – my passion – is to teach you, show you, guide you, and help you with every step of having your business online. Whether it’s website design, your marketing message, or how to use social media, my goals are to make the entire process of having a website and using it to grow your business as simple and easy as possible. And I’ve done so for hundreds of people just like you since 1997.
If you’d like the unique experience of having a website and being able to actually use it to grow your business, please visit my website www.dmiracle.com. And yes, I did build Jory’s website and helped her with every aspect of having her business online. I look forward to meeting you.