Selling doesn’t have to be boring
Author: collin stewart
Patrick McLean is the President of Reinforcements, INC, and a highly acclaimed author. Over a long and successful career, he has used his talents to provide world-class sales and marketing support to major companies such as Red Bull, Amazon, and Transamerica Capital among others. He joined Predictable Revenue to share some valuable insights on how to make sales interesting and engaging.
Identify And Articulate The Internal Problem
“People always buy feelings, right?” Patrick poses. “Well, they’re actually buying a solution: that feeling is the internal problem. This is true of everything, especially very dull business to business products.” An illustrative example is insurance, which can be extremely technical — especially when it is non-standard insurance.
“If you’re talking to insurance brokers, they are inherently interested in the technical stuff. However, the problem that they experience is that they have clients who have really complex problems. Insurance brokers can’t know everything, but they have to look like they do. So, they end up scrambling.” This is their internal problem.
Having identified the problem, salespeople will find it much easier to then develop a fruitful connection with their prospects. “Once you throw the problem out there, this crazy thing happens. If you can describe a problem skilfully, and people feel that you empathize with them, they begin to think that you have the solution — whether that’s true or not.”
Always Be As Human As Possible
To be an effective salesperson, it’s important that prospects see you as a human, rather than a sales professional. Coming across as genuine and sincere, as opposed to someone reading a script, is vital in establishing a connection. For example, if you’re going to send out a prospecting video, making it seem too well-rehearsed may actually put people off.
“Make it and send it. Don’t look at it. Trust me, it’ll be okay. We don’t necessarily want perfection — perfection isn’t human, it’s creepy! If you stumble, or if you have an emotional moment, it enhances the communication, and we shouldn’t be afraid of that. It makes it more authentic.”
Similarly, if you’re giving a presentation, make human interaction the core of this. Dry technical details can be an impediment to forging a relationship with your audience, so leave these for handouts or reference materials wherever possible. “For every presentation, the faster you get to human interaction the better. So, I try and leave all the data for the handout.”
Don’t Make It About You
The fastest way to make your sales approach off-putting and dull is by making it about you. You need to place your solutions under the spotlight, not yourself. This is what will get your prospects hooked.
“If you are starting with ‘you’, then you’re immediately not interesting. No-one is interested in me. They’re interested in what I can do to help them.” While some engaging banter can be a good way to warm up a client, it has to be quickly building towards a solution to their problems or pain points.
“People will be nice in face-to-face interactions, and we have a little chit chat at the beginning, but if I’m just talking about how wonderful I am — if I’m not providing something of value — then I’ve lost them.”
Be As Brief As Possible
A good way to ensure that you don’t focus on yourself unnecessarily is by following Patrick’s next piece of advice — always be brief. “It’s interesting how many other problems this solves. If you have to hone everything down to 30 seconds, then you lose all that pre-ramble at the beginning that’s about you, and you get right to the problem.”
Keeping your pitch short will help you to maintain the prospect’s interest, which in turn will maximize your chances of converting. “Taking two paragraphs of copy to explain something is always less interesting than a great headline.” The key to this is distilling what the most important part of a product is — the part that a buyer would be most interested in — and only speaking about that element.
Sometimes brevity is difficult for salespeople, because they amass such a depth of knowledge on their products. “If I’m a competitive salesperson and I’m selling alternators that go on motors, what’s in my head is all the technical specs, and all of the competitors’, and all that other stuff. So, for me the difference between model A and model B is gigantic. For a person who doesn’t have that technical mindset, it’s just the doohickey that goes on the motor to start it.”
It’s crucial that sales professionals recognize what information is important and interesting to their prospects and share this only. This requires developing a comprehensive understanding of your customers and your market.
For Patrick, an effective way of testing whether or not you are sufficiently concise is what he refers to as the ‘so what do you do’ question. “If a salesperson can’t answer that question in a way that interests somebody in 15 to 30 seconds tops, then they haven’t figured out their pitch. There are lots of components to sales and marketing, but it all bottlenecks at that 15 to 30 second answer.”
It goes without saying that the most successful salespeople tailor their pitches to specific audiences. As a result, it’s a good idea to have different answers to this question for each product you sell and each type of prospect you sell to. “You need to have an index card for everything you sell, and each one has to cover: audience, action, and message. It’s got to be broken down so that it’s that simple. It’s obviously more complicated than that in action, but if you can’t boil it down so that it’s that short, maybe you don’t have it figured out yet.”
If you would like to hear more guidance and advice from Patrick on engaging with your audience and making selling as interesting as possible, you can watch the full video with Predictable Revenue here.
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