Things are very different now. Budgets slashed. Different buyers. Longer sales cycles. Less repeat business.
But many things are also exactly the same. Companies, after all, are hardly sat there doing – and spending – nothing.
In this article, Britain’s Sales Trainer of the Year Andy Bounds shows how to convince these companies to spend more of their money with you.
No matter what you sell … no matter who you sell to … there are three things you need, to sell more:
To have the right mindset
To meet with the right people
To say the right things to them
If any one is missing, you’re less likely to succeed.
Wrong mindset? No sale. Say the wrong things? No sale. Say the right things to the wrong person? No sale.
You need all three. Especially when the current climate is making everyone raise their game. And here’s how to master them.
1. Get the right mindset
See yourself as an ‘AFTERs-causer’, not a ‘seller of stuff’, and your sales will rocket.
By AFTERs, I mean what customers are left with AFTER you’ve worked with them. Customers always want their AFTERs, not your products/services. You know this to be true. After all, you don’t buy a newspaper because you want a newspaper. You want information.
Buying toothpaste? You want clean teeth.
Glasses? Better vision.
I.T.? Improved efficiencies.
AFTERs-focussed sales conversations lead to more sales. They flow better. Both you and the customer enjoy them more.
And you handle objections more effectively. For instance, a company recently told me: “Our training budget has been cut to nothing”. My response? “But you’re not buying training. You’re buying the increased sales you’ll win”. Our conversation then naturally flowed to where we could access budget.
We won the work. They have already won £millions of new sales. All because of my AFTERs-mindset.
So, find your AFTERs. Ask your customers what value you’ve brought them AFTER buying from you. Discuss with your colleagues what AFTERs you provide. See yourself as an ‘AFTERs-causer, and your clients will too. And when they do that, they buy more.
2. See the right people
A ‘right person’ is someone who can sign cheques and make decisions.
A ‘right person’ is therefore not necessarily your closest contact at the client. Nor, since the current climate is leading to different sign-off limits, is it necessarily the same ‘right person’ as last year.
To find how best to get in front of a ‘right person’,simply grade each possible marketing activity – e.g. cold calling, networking, hosting seminars etc - on a Good Grief Scale (‘Good’ – how likely that activity is to work [1: low; 10: high]; ‘Grief’ – how unpleasant that activity is for you [1: no grief 10: grief-laden, due to cost, time, hassle, your hatred of it etc])
So, for my business, an abridged Good Grief Scale might be:
So, I hate cold calling. Networking works better, but still has a grief of ‘5’ due to the time investment. We always win business from seminars, but they are hard to organise, hence high grief. Referrals and existing clients work well and are easy to do.
Doing this makes our marketing strategy obvious: ask for referrals, network our existing clients, speak at events that others organise … and never cold call.
Do a thorough Good Grief Scale for how to market your business. It’s the best way of finding the best route to seeing more ‘right people’.
3. Say the right things
You’re finally in front of a buyer. You do not want to mess it up now.
There are thousands of theories on how to sell, but successful selling boils down to some basic rules.
- Selling is a ‘customer thing’. Say things they like and they’re more likely to buy; and
- Customers really only want two things:
1. AFTERs – an improved future state; and
2. Certainty – utter comfort you can take them there
So, traditional sales lines – ‘Founded in 1922’, ‘Our product is great because’ etc – don’t cut it. They talk about your past, not the client’s future. Instead, to sell more, ABC them…
AFTERs: Find their desired future state. Ask future-based questions. Listen. A lot. Remember to W.A.I.T. (‘Why Am I Talking?’)
Be certain: If you can help them achieve these AFTERs, say so with certainty… “we can definitely help you with that”
Convince: Prove to them they’ll get these AFTERs. So, if a customer wants improved sales, you might use some/all of:
- Case studies, outlining how you’ve increased sales for others
- Testimonials, proving you’ve increased sales
- Lists of clients who you’ve increased sales for
- Awards won because you’ve increased sales
You’ll notice the ‘Convincing phase’ only includes proofs about how you’ve increased sales. “Founded in 1922” rarely makes it in.
An extremely quick Action Plan, to increase sales
So, what now? My advice in three simple steps:
- Ask your clients what AFTERs you deliver, and focus on these
- Identify optimal marketing activities using the Good Grief Scale, and do them
- ABC the buyer
And remember at all times: customers buy from suppliers who’ll make them great, not from those suppliers who say they’re great.