Everyone has their own personal sales journey.
For many, they were forced to learn sales because their livelihood depended on it.
For some, like me, they were just born to sell.
Or perhaps they were creators, probably much like you, who hated the idea of selling, but in order to make their craft a career they needed to learn all the sales tips they could.
At any rate, sales is a craft and it takes time to hone. And when embarking on the journey of cultivating this particular craft, the most important thing that one needs to learn is the psychology of selling.
Let me tell you a very quick story about how I learned this very important lesson in my sales journey.
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When I graduated college I was catapulted into one of the hardest jobs, still to date, of my career.
It was never a job that I intended to have, but I’m so thankful that it landed in my lap. It was this job that taught me more about sales then any other role I have been in.
I bet you are thinking that it must have been some intense, fast paced role at a Silicon Valley start-up. Nope. It was probably as far from that as humanly possible.
I was a coach.
More specifically, at just 23-years young I was a the youngest Division I (D1) head volleyball coach in the country.
If you are a sports fan you know that recruiting is the key to success at any level. *(Recruiting is the act of finding and offering an athlete the opportunity to represent a given university in exchange for a free education).
Now I share this because of 334 coaches in D1 athletics I was the youngest, by far (not a good thing). I couldn’t control my age, but if I learned how to sell effectively I could ensure the success of the program for years to come.
Now this role was only the start of my sales career, but it was the role that most emphasized the importance of understanding human psychology when selling, and as a result, it has drastically helped my career as a sales professional.
It is my hope that the lessons I learned along the way, both as a coach and as a professional saleswomen, can be applied to your business and help increase the amount of revenue that you generate in years to come.
Let’s dig in.
Lesson #1: People make decisions based off their emotions.
This might be my favorite of all the lessons. Maybe this is why it is listed as #1.
When people buy something they usually do so for one of two reasons– they buy because it brings them joy or it solves a problem.
Nearly every purchase we make falls into one of those two categories.
Used Camry: Problem
Understanding this is really the basis for every sales conversation you have.
The way you sell to each prospect will be dramatically different based on the reason behind their purchase.
Are you solving a problem for them? Or are you emphasizing the amount of joy they will experience?
Key takeaway: Identify the reason behind the purchase.
Lesson #2: People think of themselves.
Has there ever been a time where you walked out of a store and felt excited about an expensive purchase after the salesperson disrespected or insulted you? I am going to guess the answer is no.
This is because people are self-absorbed. They want to hear how smart, intelligent, or attractive they are.
When selling, you need to be sure to compliment them in an authentic and insightful manner. This is important whether you are selling 1:1 or 1:many.
Make them feel seen.
If you see something in them that most people miss, they will immediately feel a connection with you and an increased level of trust.
Bottom line is that people are more likely to buy something when the attention is focused on them, and the easiest way to do that is to ensure that they feel completely seen and understood.
Key takeaway: Give authentic compliments and practice active listening skills when you are talking to prospective clients.
Lesson #3: People like to be challenged.
One of my favorite sales books of all time is The Challenger Sale by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson. For the book, they performed one of the most expansive sales studies to date on B2B sales representatives. The results were quite eye opening.
In the study they categorized salespeople into five different cohorts and then worked to identify the most successful sales representatives based on their style.
You can probably conclude that ‘The Challenger’ was the most successful of the five sales personalities.
‘The Challenger’ is a sales representative that teaches their prospect, tailors their sales process, and takes control of the customer conversation.
Now this might be an extreme example, but which would you rather?
“John – I have evaluated your email marketing strategy and I think ConvertKit would be a great addition to your suite of tools. I understand if now is not the right time to make a decision, but should the timing be right I would be thrilled to do business with you. I look forward to the fruitful friendship ahead of us.”
“John – I have evaluated your current email marketing strategy and while I am impressed that you have a 20% conversion rate I am certain that by moving to ConvertKit we can drastically increase your profits by implementing the following tactics. I am confident I can help you increase your conversion rate from 20% to 30% in the next 3 month. Let’s connect this afternoon to discuss next steps.”
The first option is nice. Certainly non-threatening but pretty passive. It does not cause the buyer to think. It certainly does not evoke a confidence to the buyer that the seller knows exactly what is needed to help him/her.
However, the second option teaches, challenges, and proposes a solution to the buyer.
If I am going to invest in a new solution (or product), or replace an existing one, I want to have a very clear understanding of the benefits, the value, and the next steps.
That said, go forth and challenge.
Key takeaway: Don’t be afraid to challenge a buyer or take control of the sales timeline
Lesson #4: People love to learn.
Because people love to learn, teaching is the key to selling.
Let’s look at an example.
I grew up in Los Angeles. The land of excess.
When I was young, I valued quantity over quality. For sake of example let's say that the average price per piece of clothing I owned was $20.
As the years passed, I learned more about ethical fashion practices. I learned about quality fabrics, markups, etc. I became more educated about the amount of effort that went into each garment and what the fashion industry was doing to our environment.
As a result I now value quality over quantity. I almost exclusively support independent designers and small brands. Because of this, I have fewer items in my closet because each piece now averages $60. That is 3x the amount.
The lesson here is that I have no problem buying more expensive items because I am educated on how fast fashion negatively affects our world.
You can’t just tell your audience why your product or service is the best, you have teach them why. That’s why we always recommend creating educational email sequences that teach your audience about your topic and your industry.
Key takeaway: Teach your consumers why your product or service is worth the money.
Lesson #5: People trust their friends and peers.
Can you think of a time where you purchased or saw something that you absolutely couldn’t resist sharing?
Maybe you had an interaction with a customer support team and were blown away by the support you received. As a result, you felt compelled to share your experience with all your friends.
Perhaps a course that you purchased helped to increase your revenue by 30%. Wouldn’t it be a shame not to share?
Jay Baer talks about this in his new book, Talk Triggers *It’s a great book and I highly recommend giving it a read.
The point is that these experiences didn’t happen by accident. They were designed to be a trigger. The result or the experience was designed to be shared.
Turn your customers into volunteer marketers. Word of mouth is responsible for as much as 50% of all purchases, yet almost nobody has an actual plan to generate it.
Key takeaway: No matter what you are selling, make sure you create your businesses ‘talk trigger’. Selling becomes a whole lot easier when word of mouth marketing does the initial work for you.
Lesson #6: People are more likely to move forward when it is their idea vs. when they are told.
Let’s look at a very simple example.
Would you rather…
Your boss come up with a strategy on his/her own and then hand you the plan and say, “Go implement this.”
Would you rather your boss say, “We need to accomplish ‘x’ in the next 6 months. Please put together a strategic proposal and once reviewed we will implement.”
Key takeaway: Guide your prospect/consumer in the direction that you want them to head. A really simple way to do this is by asking questions.
Lesson #7: People like a taste of what is to come.
How many of you have been to Costco?
If you have, you know that Costco has built their entire business by implementing this lesson. Year after year they continue to increase sales and customer loyalty by offering samples of their products.
What about Birchbox? The ecommerce makeup company that distributes sample size cosmetics in the form of a subscription box. Their model allows the consumer to try several products and then purchase only those that they love.
Bottom line is that people love samples. In the digital space this is very easy to replicate.
Teaching and providing value to your audience is the best way to do this. The end result is the consumer saying, “If their free content is this great I can’t imagine what their paid content looks like.”
The options are endless.
Key takeaway: Give, give, give, before you take.
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