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People buy from people: Understanding a personal sales approach
While some companies are moving more and more toward fully automated sales, at HelloSells, we believe that real and genuine human interaction is still the most successful sales model. It is hard for a fully automated model to inspire the same kind of trust and loyalty that person-to-person interactions inspire. People buy from people and that how you approach selling is as important as the product or service you provide.
Here are eight ways you can bring a personal touch to your sales approach.
1. Ask questions and listen closely
Even if you know you are selling a quality product or service, you need to make clear to prospective customers that it will be the right fit for them. The best way to do this is to understand your customers and their needs. The key to gaining this knowledge is by asking questions and listening.
No one likes to feel they are being ignored during a sales pitch. Find out what matters most to the client. It may surprise you to learn which aspects of a service or product really appeal to a prospect. It is not enough to ask questions if you are still planning to give the same generic sales pitch. Listening closely to the prospect can help you ascertain priorities. Knowing in detail what the client wants allows you to show how your product will satisfy their most important needs. In addition, questioning and listening convey a sense of care and concern on your part.
2. Get a little personal
While getting to know your prospect is vital, it is also a good idea to share a little bit about yourself. Show your human side to the potential client. Put some thought into what you want to share. It shouldn’t be something too personal, but it should be something a client can relate to.
Finding some kind of link between the two of you can immediately make the prospect feel connected, confident and more willing to give you time to explain what you are selling. A study in the Journal of Consumer Research found that customers are more likely to buy from a salesperson who shares something as simple as a birthplace or birth date with them.
3. Treat your prospect (sort of) like a friendship
There is a reason we call it ‘courting customers’ in the business. You have to reach out to potentials, show them what you have to offer and see if they reciprocate. There is also a fine line between being attentive and following up and turning into that annoying person who just can’t take a hint.
In general, people don’t want to hang out unless they already suspect there is some potential for a friendship. It should be the same with clients. The best prospects are ones positioned to need whatever it is you are selling. If there is no need, then there is really no probability for a relationship. Once the potential is established, make sure the clients know your product would fulfill their needs but give them time to consider this. Seeming desperate for a sale can sometimes scare potentials off.
4. Become knowledgeable
The most successful salespeople understand what they are selling and who they are selling to. Enthusiasm and a well-scripted pitch are not going to get you nearly as far as confident knowledge of the product and client.
Demonstrating you are an expert inspires confidence and trust, not only in what is being sold but in the person doing the selling. Your pitch comes off as more genuine if you understand how the product fits the prospect’s needs. Don’t attempt to make up for a lack of knowledge with over-the-top enthusiasm or general claims.
5. Understand a lead’s challenges
When following up with new leads, begin with an idea of the challenges that similar companies in their industry face and how your product can help with those issues. Share your knowledge of relevant challenges with prospects. Help them to feel understood. Let them know that the product or service you are selling is going to help them meet those obstacles. This can be a great way to start a more in-depth discussion and a segue for questions on your part.
6. Be a problem solver
Often new leads are coming to you not just to find a product that will help them with a problem but to get assistance finding the best ways to use that product to solve their difficulty. Think about selling as if you are a doctor, not a salesperson. A doctor needs to get a lot of information to make a diagnosis. After you have asked questions, listened closely and discussed specific challenges, it is important to offer your prospect a plan that addresses specific needs. The ‘one size fits all’ approach is usually not as successful as a more tailored one.
7. Don’t be too needy
Acting desperate and pushing a sale on a reluctant lead can do more harm than good. Making sales is obviously important, and sometimes you may feel a little anxiety, but don’t let it show. Prospects should feel you are reaching out because you have something valuable that will address their needs, not because you need to sell your product to anybody willing to buy it.
8. Know when to move on
It is not reasonable to expect a sale from every lead or contact. That is why a constant stream of leads is important. With that in mind, it is important to know when to move on from a potential client. Spending too much time on a dead-end prospect takes time away from contacting other profitable leads. Knowing when to walk away can also earn you the respect of the contacts. If you know that your service is not going to be a good fit, don’t try to keep pushing it.
All these selling tactics are difficult or impossible with a fully automated sales model. These strategies need real people with genuine understanding to make them work. We know from experience that the human element of sales is the best way to generate and convert new leads.