Archives for July 2013

8 SECRETS to a GREAT SALES PRESENTATION

8 secretsThere’s no shortage of information out there about how to construct the “perfect” sales presentations—whether in person, on the phone, or online. I find a lot of this material depressing, because it seems increasingly geared to boxing clients into a corner where they feel stupid or look downright recalcitrant if they don’t buy.

My own opinions about how to construct and deliver a sales presentation that serves people are included in The Soul of Selling’s Step #3, Create Your Speaking Bank, and Step #6, Conduct the 10-Touchstone Honoring Sales Conversation.

Today, I want to talk about something much more fundamental: How to be with your potential client or customer while you have that conversation, either in person or on the phone. I find that people are most likely to want more when I remember these eight guidelines:

1. FOCUS YOUR ATTENTION ON THE OTHER PERSON.
We all start out intending to do this, but occasionally our attention drifts back into thoughts like, “How am I doing? Am I doing it right? Where am I in the Speaking Bank? What should I say next? What does he or she think of me?” If this happens, just notice the thought, let it go, and bring yourself back to the other person—just as you might in meditation. This guideline is actually as much for you as for others. We all know that the best cure for stage fright is to throw your attention out to the audience. Concentrate on contributing to your potential client, and you’ll forget to worry about how you are doing.

2. LISTEN WITH MORE THAN YOUR EARS.
If you are with people physically, pay attention to body language, facial expressions, and other clues. If you’re on the phone, feel into the energy. Are they closing down? Tread softly for a while, or ask them a question. When you’re aware of how they are responding, you’re in a position to make course corrections.

3. CALL FORTH YOUR OWN ENTHUSIASM.
Let your inspiration about your product or service live within you. Call it up, and speak from that place.  Let people ride your energy, and get enthusiastic with you.

4. LEARN TO PAT YOUR HEAD AND RUB YOUR STOMACH.
Wait! Should you be listening to them with more than your ears or calling forth your own enthusiasm? Both! Think back to the first time you tried this trick, and how little time it took to go from total fumbling, to mastery. It’s the same here. You’re balancing two easy, enjoyable things.

5. MAKE COURSE CORRECTIONS.
When you ride a bike or fly from San Francisco to New York, you’re almost never going in a straight line. Selling, too, is all about course correction. You’re alert to people’s reactions and sensitive to whether they need you to step forward, or to step back a little. You can modulate the conversation with your tone of voice and your manner, always creating an environment in which people feel more comfortable, more relaxed about listening to you and responding truthfully.

6. DO WHAT WORKS FOR THEM.
Remember, it’s their show—not ours. They are the stars, and the attention is on them. If  they don’t move as quickly as you do mentally, slow down. If they want to move more quickly, speed up. Stay centered in yourself and serve your product well, but make the style of your presentation work for your clients—whether or not that style is your first choice.

7. WHEN IN DOUBT, TELL THE TRUTH.
Sometimes conversations become baffling—in sales and in life. When I just can’t figure out what’s going on, what people are thinking, or what they need, I’ve found that the best thing is simply to tell the truth. If I ask a question or two and get monosyllabic answers, and I can’t see any other clues, I might ask, “Is this if interest to you?” or “Is this making sense?” or even, “I’m confused. Tell me what you’d like.” Of course, I have to be prepared for honest answers. And if all else fails, remember,..

8. IT’S JUST US CHICKENS.
We’re all human. We all have our foibles, our acts, our fears, and our greatness. Forget about how you “should” act, and be yourself. People appreciate authenticity more than we can imagine. It gives them permission to be real as well.  Some of my best moments in selling have come when I took off my seller hat and said something like, “You know, it doesn’t seem like I’m giving you what you need, and I can’t figure out what that is. Can you help me out?” Then, whatever they tell you, just take them at their word.

The bottom line is that you can’t go wrong if you honor them, keep your attention on serving them, and tell the truth.

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What Are You Really Selling?

handshakeIf you sell a service, you are probably selling a relationship.

Cleaning my bookshelves last week, I came across Selling the Invisible, by Harry Beckwith, a wonderful and nuanced book that I recommend to anyone who sells a service. I took Beckwith’s main premise to be that the more invisible the service you sell, the more you are really selling yourself and the relationship you will have with your clients.

More often than we imagine, people will make their decision based on what it feels like to be standing or sitting there with us, in that moment, talking about the service and our future together. And the more intimate their relationship with us will be after the sale, the more they are focused on how it feels to be with us, what they think we think of them, and how safe it seems to open up and give us what we need to help them.

4 LEVELS OF POST-SALE RELATIONSHIP
The levels of post-sale relationship vary, and you may categorize certain services differently from how I do here, but basically we’re talking about four levels:

LITTLE OR NONE. If you sell a product like a car or toaster, you are talking about a physical object that is separate from both you and your customers. People can kick the tires, or plug it in and watch it make toast. You’re talking specs, known analytics, maybe some Consumer Reports data. Whether or not they like and trust you is still relevant, but less so. Once they’ve bought the product, they’re outta there and will probably never see you again.

WARMER. If you sell a service like legal work or accountancy, people know that they will see you again, share personal information with you, and maybe put a part of their lives in your hands. They need to trust you, and some will want to like you. Without any proof that you will do a good job, they need to feel good enough about you—if only on an intuitive level—that they’re willing to put out money before they know how well you will actually perform.

WARMER STILL. If you provide a service like hair styling, personal assistant or organizer, or coaching, trust may need to be even stronger. People need to know that you will not harm them or use their intimate information against them. They may actually be more vulnerable with an attorney, but they’re likely to feel more vulnerable with someone who is going to see their physical, psychological, or professional messes, and who may even be holding a pair of sharp scissors. When you talk with them, they need to feel secure that you are a good person—and perhaps more importantly, that you know they are good people and that you honor and respect them.

HOT. If you sell more intimate services like bodywork or spa treatments that involve physical contact, trust may be even more important. Certainly, they need to know that you are an honorable person who respects both them and the standards of your profession.

THE UNIVERSAL DONOR
How can you give people this confidence? How can you begin a relationship that they want to continue, one in which they trust you and know that you honor, respect, and appreciate them?

There’s only one solution: Truly honoring, respecting, and appreciating them—and being clear that you provide a service that will benefit them, and make their lives richer, better, and/or easier.

If you do that, they will get it every time. Your sales conversations will be a fun, deep, clear, and relaxed. And that will be just as wonderful for you as it is for them.

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SELLING as LIFE: The Person I Always Wanted to Be

selling as lifeI always tell people that I created the Soul of Selling system to shape myself into the person I’d always wanted to be. That person was far more generous, compassionate, loving, and powerful than I was—so I designed a system in which you could only access power by demonstrating those qualities.

In other words, selling words, you guaranteed your numbers (power)—and in order to keep going until you got those numbers, you had to be generous, compassionate, and loving.  I’m not saying I totally embody those qualities today, but I’m way ahead of where I would have been without the Soul of Selling!

SUBTRACTION
The more I see of selling and of life, the more I realize that selling is a metaphor for life—and that who we are as sellers both reflects and affects who we are in “regular” life.

Selling is life on steroids, so how we shape ourselves as sellers influences who we become as people. Here are some things people have said about why they have trouble selling:

  • I don’t think I’m worthy of success.
  • I’m afraid of failing, so I don’t give my all.
  • I don’t want to be the adult, the one in charge of behaving themselves.
  • I procrastinate, and put everything off until the last minute.
  • I drive myself too fast, and then don’t have as much fun.
  • I start out well, but then lose steam and don’t know how to re-energize myself.

Obviously, these conditions affect their lives as well as their sales results. Simply knowing that we have these limiting habits or beliefs can help us start to let go of them. The first step is putting those thoughts outside ourselves, so that we can observe them and be on the lookout for them.

ADDITION
Once we see the thoughts and conditions that are holding us back, making us less the people we want to be, we can do something about it. One “fix” is simply knowing what they are. Next, we can write about the people we want to become and the qualities we want to encourage in ourselves.

Here are some “additions” people have challenged themselves to embody:

  • I want to be a powerful person who says what they will do, and does it without a lot of drama or effort.
  • I want to be a person who genuinely likes and want to serve people, and to whom people look for support and guidance.
  • I want to be someone who sees the best in everyone, and around whom people just feel good.

It’s not magic, and it doesn’t always happen overnight, but putting some attention on who we want to be, and some energy into becoming that person, puts us ahead of the game—and makes the game, selling, and life more fun.

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3 RADICAL IDEAS about SELLING

3 radical ideasThe Soul of Selling is based on 3 radical ideas:

1. You can get the exact sales results you want, every time.
2. You can do this while honoring, respecting, and appreciating everyone with whom you speak–whether or not they buy.
3. You can feed your own soul and have fun in the process.

Sales trainers usually say that #1 and #2 are mutually exclusive, or #2 and #3, or #1 and #3… or really, all of them. Not true!

THE SOS SECRET
Here’s the punch line, the key to opening all three doors at the same time: You make your sales conversation so connected, so clear, and so enriching for both of you that you actually look forward to having it as many times as necessary in order to reach your sales goal.

When you conduct the 10-Point Honoring Sales Conversation in The Soul of Selling book, it’s often the high point of the other person’s day—or week, or month. They know that they have been invited into a connection and honored as a person, not as a “prospect.” They haven’t been manipulated. Rather, they have been coached to clarity about whether or not they want to buy. Regardless of the outcome, they have been heard and respected for who they are.

You’ve had the lush experience of a deep connection with someone whom you truly want to serve. You know whether they’re in or out, and you respect their decision. You feel good about yourself for how you’ve interacted with them, and have enjoyed connecting with another human being in whom you’ve seen the best.

This conversation is fun, expanding, are richly rewarding. You don’t mind having it over and over—with everyone on your list, and with the new people you draw to your list. You can go on and on, until you reach your goal.

THE LONE RANGER AND THE RUBBER BAND
This way of selling gives us what we’ve always wanted, but were afraid we couldn’t have—the Fourfold Guarantee for Results, Integrity, Passion and Ease. (We become R-I-P-E!) The price of this Guarantee is that we have to let go of old, habitual ways of thinking and embrace some new ideas about what selling is and what is possible.

There are reasons we don’t just abandon our bad habits nad live smoke-free, broccoli-filled, yoga-stretched lives. Comfort Zones are comfortable! And our ways of thinking and acting are subject to the Rubber Band Dynamic: Unless we keep them stretched into the new shape, and give them some support, they snap back into the old shape. Before we know it, those sneaky old ways have rubber banded back into position—no matter how well the new ways are working, or how great the financial or psychological rewards.

What to do?

For whatever reason, we sellers tend to be Lone Rangers. Even the Lone Ranger had Tonto. We need people around us with whom to share our triumphs and tribulations, people who can give us high fives and listen when we need to be heard. The rubber band is less likely to snap back when we have people to help us keep it stretched into the new shape, and to remind us how great that stretch feels.

EMBRACE THE RADICAL
Find someone—or better yet, several people—who also want to be radical and to start enjoying selling. Set a time to get together, at least once a week. Tell the truth about what’s bothering you, but don’t succumb to whining. Let these meetings charge you up and send you out renewed, refreshed, and ready to meet the next person.

Re-read those three ideas at the beginning of this post:

  1. You can get the exact sales results you want, every time.
  2. You can do this while honoring, respecting, and appreciating everyone with whom you speak–whether or not they buy.
  3. You can feed your own soul and have fun in the process.

Imagine what selling would be like if you lived all three of those ideas at the same time. Imagine what life would be like!

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SELLING AS SPIRITUAL PRACTICE

SPIRITUAL PRACTICES 2I know many people who are spiritual seekers, and who look down their noses at people who sell. It’s all I can do to keep from saying, “Forget the mountaintop. Get a job selling cars, and you’ll be enlightened in half the time!”

The Soul of Selling actually parallels many approaches to personal growth and spiritual practice. Most spiritual practices include four principles:

  • Quieting the mind
  • Equanimity
  • Balance of love and will, yin and yang, compassion and power
  • Service

Here is how these four principles work in the Soul of Selling method:

Quieting the mind. The Soul of Selling asks us to manage our own mental chatter, and also to be compassionate with our contacts’ mental chatter. We are no longer the slaves of mental chatter; we become senior to it in order to contribute. We identify and release our own mental chatter before each selling conversation—and learn to hear other people’s chatter without necessarily believing it. Being able to rise above mental chatter gives us access to levels of strength and compassion that are simply not possible when we have to run after every thought in our minds—and other people’s minds.

Equanimity. The Soul of Selling teaches us to be the eye of the hurricane. Selling is demanding business. Yet in the midst of everything, we remain compassionate, committed, and calm. We are the grown-ups who are willing to make the whole selling experience rich for everyone involved—and to have everybody win.

Balance. Selling demands an amalgam of love and strength, generosity of spirit and steady will, humility and certainty, yin and yang. It asks that we guarantee two things that many people believe are mutually exclusive: 1) Specific results, and 2) Unconditionally honoring and appreciating our contacts. We bring the best we have to offer people, and we don’t get thrown off track by hearing “No.” We are willing to see beyond people’s crankiness, uncertainty, or defensiveness to the goodness in them. At the same time, we produce the promised result, every time. We merge personal effectiveness with contribution, and powerful results with personal meaning.

Service. The Soul of Selling is based on service. Our primary charge is to see the best in people, and this is the greatest service one human being can offer another. We make this the foundation of our conversations and learn to recognize and dismantle everything that’s in the way of that service.

So the next time someone snorts at selling in your presence (physically or mentally), just flood that person with compassion, take a deep breath, and know that what you’re doing is a walking, talking meditation.

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