Being a teacher, sales is not my area of expertise. However, after a brief study of the subject I quickly learned the catch phrase: ‘Sales are everything’. Now, I don’t know if I’d go to that extreme, but selling is something we as humans do all the time.
As a teacher, I sell students ideas and concepts all the time. In fact, we as a society sell each other ideas all the time. Not only that, but we sell ourselves. We sell ourselves as employees, we sell ourselves as a mate and we sell ourselves as friends. Then depending on our career, we may sell a product or a service, or our ideas to influence others.
Therefore, sales is a vital skill. One that schools don’t always teach to a high level.
Many schools do cover elements of selling. In English class, you may remember studying advertising; maybe you critiqued ad’s, or maybe you analysed persuasion, or maybe you even creatively made an advertising campaign for a product.
However, sales go much deeper than this.
It is a vital skill that should be part of the school curriculum – especially for students whose dreams and passions are to be successful in the business, social, political … well in any area of the modern world.
To start with, I had very little idea about sales. So I dived into a study of sales and looked for the best entry level info I could find.
The Theory of Sales
1. Why do people buy?
The first valuable insight I received about sales was that you need to put the customer first. It is the customer after all who will buy from you, whatever you’re selling. So, the first step you need to know is what motivates people to buy.
Now if you had have asked me initially what motivates people to buy, I would have said their needs and wants.
However, having studied the insights of one of my new mentors, Cliff Ennico, I found out I was wrong. People don’t buy what they need or what they want. People buy because they are driven by passion and fear.
See Cliff’s full video on sales:
When I thought about this, it started to make a lot of sense. For example, if someone is thirsty they need water, they want something to quench their thirst, but more often than not they reach for the coke can. They go for the coke can over the glass of water, because they have related to coke that passion for happiness, or taste and so on.
It is even more obvious with fear. Even when I was 20 years old I thought having insurance was a good thing. However, when I thought about it, I was 20, I didn’t really have anything. I really wasn’t worth anything. In truth, at 20 I didn’t really need insurance. I certainly didn’t want to spend my limited party money on insurance. But I bought it because I was afraid if I didn’t have it I was unsafe.
So people don’t buy out of need or want. They buy because of passion or fear.
2. People don’t buy what – they buy why
Another important point I was completely wrong about was the whole what and why of it all. To me, people bought what they wanted. However, a key concept proposed by Simon Sinek is that people don’t buy what you sell, they buy why you sell it.
See Simon’s video on his theory of the golden circle and the power of why:
This is a tricky concept; however, it becomes very clear with Simon’s very simple example. His example is Apple computers. He illustrates that people don’t buy Apple computers because Apple computers are the best computers or the best value for money. People buy Apple computers because they relate to Apple’s values and their mission.
Apple’s mission is to free people to unlock their creative side and change the world. They sell themselves as renegades going against the old, tired and stifling ways of doing things and they free people to create. We all generally agree with their values and we want to be a part of their team.
If we just wanted a good computer that did the job, we’d go for another option that was more flexible, cheaper and frankly a better computer. But people go for Apple because they want to challenge the status quo and liberate themselves to be the creative genius inside and change the world.
3. Win/Win Situation or Win/Win/Win situation
Related to the previous point is what Christine Clifford talks about with the win, win, win scenario.
See Christine’s ideas here:
This shows that people don’t buy just out of necessity (needs and wants) and not just for the product (why not what). It also shows that people are not solely driven by self-motivation.
The general concept of sales is: I have a product that you want and you have the money that I want, so if I help you and you help me, we’ll both be happy. This is win/win and Christine Clifford says it doesn’t work. People often try this method, even with good products that people may truly benefit from, but it’s not effective enough to close the deal. (Well it may work to an extent, but in the higher scheme of closing on big deals, there needs to be more.)
She shows that to improve the sale, a salesperson must create a win, win, win situation. By inserting a related third party into the situation and showing how the deal is great not just for you and me, but also for a related party, it helps to drive people to want to buy. They feel like they have power, through their purchase, to change a life, or to achieve something great. In this way the sale is more than a transaction, it is an important event.
An easy example would be offering a spin off charitable deal into the sale. Such as the $1 from each sale will help change the life of a starving child in Africa. This is an extreme case. But even simple selling ploys like buy this luxury sales boat and your wife will love you for it; husband wins, wife wins and salesperson wins big. Other examples are children’s’ learning toys, products that help boss and their staff, and so on.
No wonder people have so much trouble selling. The problem with sales is that people think they are doing deals with rational entities. When actually they are creating events in the lives of emotional human beings.
Combining this information, we now know people buy things that appeal to their passions or fears. They buy why you’re selling – or the story behind what you’re selling. And they buy to create an event in their lives that has the potential to create good feeling for themselves and others.
Let’s bring this all together in a simple example:
Say for example, I wanted to sell this blog to you. I can’t simply offer it to you and say believe all my ideas, or come follow me, or God forbid pay me, just because I write a blog.
We both know straight out that doesn’t work. And here’s where the problem is, most people don’t know what does work. Even myself, I’ve always shied away from anything that seemed liked sales. However, given these lessons, I know the first steps:
- Firstly, appeal to passion or fear. So I need to tap into your feelings. I think it’s safe to assume that most of you who have read this far would most likely be passionate about either developing great wealth, achieving personal mastery, or you have a passion for learning. So, I can target these emotions. On the other hand, I assume most intelligent people reading this far could also be reading on because they are afraid that there is some great knowledge that they might miss out on. Therefore, I could create a catchy ad., draw you in with a catchy title and I can tell a story that appeals to these passions and fears. (I guess I need to start doing that:))
- Secondly, I need to have a why. Why am I selling and why should you buy? Given step one, it seems fairly obvious that my highest why, which is actually the true why, is that I am writing this to enlighten and empower myself and to share these lessons so as to empower others. I want to add value and teach you to become more powerful by guiding you to learn through these types of lessons. Given that why, it’s clear why you should buy (read) my blog, because you want to be enlightened and empowered and you want to be part of that positive mission. So, in my title and my pages and in my opener I need to lead you to feel this message. I need you to hear this why and I need you to feel this as why you want it. (This could take practice, but I can develop it.)
- Thirdly, I should seek to develop a win, win, win. Who is a third party that I can bring into this sale that could get you to feel that this transaction is something much more than a sale? How about if I could convince you to see that reading this blog will teach you the valuable skills you need to develop wealth and that that wealth can have a huge impact, not just financially but in all ways, for your family. What if I could show you how this ability will help you to communicate with your wife/husband, or how you provide for your child? I dare say that would help to motivate you. Or if you are not a family person, could I perhaps sell the power of this blog to inspire school students to become more intelligent and help to develop a stronger, more capable future generation that can make the world a better place for everyone. That might work.
- Going through this process, I can see that I have a vision, an image, a story, something a lot more valuable than words on a page.
- Think, what are you trying to sell, is it a service, a product, an idea; is it you? How can you build that into something that a customer wants and needs to have?
That may not be that easy at this stage, but I think that’s something that we can work on over time.
The good news is, there’s a simple formula that we can start with. It doesn’t cover everything, but it’s where I’ll start with as a practical approach that I can use in every day dealings.
The Practice of Sales
Brian Tracy, on YouTube, outlines a very clear 7 step process for sales. These steps are modelled on them and I encourage you to hear from the man himself.
See Brian’s 7 steps to selling on YouTube:
1. Find the customer – the right customer
The first step is obviously to find the customer. Whether you’re selling a service, a product, or you’re looking for a date, or trying to get someone to read your blog, you need to get out and find your customer. The customer won’t just come across you and say ‘great I’m your perfect customer, give me two, here’s all my money’. It doesn’t work like that. You need to find where your customers are and you need to get in front of them.
For me, this is an important point. I’ve built my blog. I’ve learned how to blog. Now if I want people to read it I need to find the customers. For me, that means building an audience. I need to get social and follow people and make friends and get the word out there.
That’s what I’ve got to do. I know where I need to go. I need to start flogging my blog on medium, on facebook, on pinterest, and so on, that’s where my customers are. What are you selling and where are your customers?
2. Start a relationship
Once you’re ‘in front’ of your customer you can’t just say buy from me. You can’t say ‘hey stranger, give me your money for this thing’. That doesn’t work. I know it and you know it. What’s missing is the relationship. You need to develop trust. Before I even think of going to my wallet I need to trust the person. You need to show that you care. You need to show that you hear them.
Everyone these days is so bombarded with sales messages that their guard is up. If you want to sell to someone, you need to get their guard down. When someone knows who you are, knows that you are trustworthy and sees that you care, then maybe they will want to buy from you.
This is even more true of selling ideas, or selling yourself to someone romantically. If you show you can be trusted and that you care, then you have a chance.
Here’s where Cliff’s method steps it up. Here’s where you talk a about passions and fears. When people see you share the same passions and fears they will start to relate to you. They will start to trust you. Then you will see what passion you need to target or what fear you need to manipulate to get them to feel, beyond a doubt, that they need your product or service immediately.
3. Set up the sale
The next step is to set up the sale. You need to lead the customer’s passion or fear directly toward being receptive to your product. So if you’re selling perfume, you need to link the passion for romance to smelling nice. Once you’ve got the customer agreeing that their passion for desire is directly linked to the way they smell, then you’re ready to pitch your specific perfume into the sale.
You can try this with whichever thing you are trying to sell. For me trying to sell my blog, I guess I need to sell the idea that knowledge can really give you an advantage in achieving success in your life. My landing page, or Facebook page, or Pinterest board, could certainly build up to this point. I could lead the kind of customer that was passionate about success and knowledge, to agree that a quality blog can change their lives. (It’s something to work on.)
This concept is important. It becomes very interesting, when you think about looking for a romantic partner, but we’ll leave that one for the moment.
4. Give the Sales Presentation
Next, you need to give the actual presentation of the item. This is the sales pitch. For some things it’s obvious. This is the product, it will fix all your problems or will fulfil all your desires. Here’s how it will do it.
In other cases, it’s not so easy.
For example, this blog. I’m not going to say, come and read this article every week, I will give you info that will change your life. But, anyway, the point is that I need to make sure you see the value and it becomes obvious that this is the product for you and then you will come back and keep reading. I think I’ve done that by showing you step by step how valuable this knowledge is and it’s the knowledge you come back for, not for me or the blog.
Here an important thing to mention is that I need to show you value. If you come to this blog and you see ad after ad, and sell you click bait and push emails on you, then you will obviously not ‘buy’ my blog. The sale needs to be there, but it needs to be well thought out.
Here some key elements also need to be considered:
I believe it was Christine Clifford who pointed it out to me, but the following are important elements of presenting the sale.
First is price
– The price tells if the product is quality or not. This is probably why men and women take such care to wear their best and look ‘a million bucks’. If you look expensive, then you must be a quality product. The same is for a restaurant or a cup of coffee.
– My blog is different. I want it to look expensive, but if I try to charge a high price you’ll click elsewhere. So it’s not about being expensive for me, it’s about looking expensive. The price may come in down the track. When it comes to online course, prices say a lot about quality. (Though I’m not sure that side of things is where my blog is heading.)
Second is Brand
– A brand is a product or service’s name and reputation. If you want to be successful over a long period of time, you need to develop a brand for your products or for your business. Your name needs to mean something for your customers. If you can develop a reputation that speaks to customers, you are much more likely to be able to sell.
– It takes time to develop a brand, but if you operate with integrity and you have purpose and you live up to it, customers will start to know your brand. If you create trust by keeping your word, you give great value to your customers and you develop great relationship by caring for your customers, then you can create a brand that customers will identify with and will want to associate with over a long period of time.
Third is Packaging
– A product needs to look good. They need to also look like they should.
– They, or you as the service, should look good. This says that you and your products are quality and worthy of respect, consideration and attention or money.
– On the other hand, they should look like they should, meaning it should be obvious what their appeal is. Is the appeal of your product status, then definitely look good. Is value for money your draw, then it should look ‘no frills’. Or does your products appeal to strength and security, then the packaging must tell the story as well.
Last is Service
– People love relationships. If you want to sell, and generate return sales, you need to develop relationships. You need to show you care and show you’ll go above. However, you also need to maintain your own standards. Develop a high standard of service for ‘your’ customers and protect them and treat them special. Don’t let customers bring down your standards, just because they are customers.
5. Answer questions and negotiate
Back to the process, step five is to answer questions and negotiate.
You have established who your customer is, you have drawn out their passions and/or fears. You’ve addressed how your product or service fills that passion or need, now you need to edge them towards the point of where they know they need it.
Very few people you address will be your natural customer. The customer who just gets you and now you’ve shown you care and given them the solution to all their problems, they’re telling you you’re God’s gift and throwing their money at you. Some might, but I wouldn’t count on it.
No, I would count on the customer having lots of issues and questions and very real reasons not to buy.
You need to have thought about all the questions and all the misgivings and all the complaints your customers might have. After all, we as consumers know how valuable our money is. Or our time, or our thoughts, or our feelings are. If you want to sell your item to the customer you need to know its strengths, and also its weaknesses and work out the solutions.
If you can’t defend what you’re selling, then you shouldn’t be selling it.
You can work out any form of negotiation or compromise you like, but remember the points from above; price says something, brand is hard to establish and easy to lose and so on.
6. Close the Sale
Once you have negotiated and answered all the questions, it’s time to close. The customer is either buying or they’re not. You have done everything you can do and now you need to make the final offer.
Knowing that your product is quality and that it solves a problem or gives an opportunity, you must approach the close with optimism and energy. This is the moment that changes their lives and you communicate that with your positive energy. Don’t sound desperate. Don’t be pushy. You must be the good guy offering them the chance to have exactly what they need or want.
If they say no, then that’s fine. Try to maintain a relationship. Establish some form of contact for the future, so that you can network down the road or possibly offer them the next great thing that could change their lives. Or give them time to reconsider. Buy you must maintain your composure. There’s nothing wrong with no. Simply, the more no’s you get means the more yes’s you will also get. It’s a numbers game. Take the no and move on. Maintain your brand and try to make a friend to approach again in the future.
If you get the yes, then close the deal. Make your customer feel good about what they’ve bought. This is true for all transactions, especially political, social and romantic ones. Make your customer feel good. Show them that your brand is about true value and offer them extra support and bonuses for taking the right choice and becoming part of the winning team.
Closing is not a close, you need to prepare for the follow up.
7. Develop relationships for future business
If you’re in it for the long run, you want to use this sale to generate more. You want the customer to feel so good about dealing with you that will go and tell everyone about this great person, this great idea, this great product and how much they enjoyed dealing with your brand.
We all know what it’s like being a customer. You walk out of the shop, or the seminar, or the restaurant, and you enjoyed the experience, you enjoyed the service, you felt like it was memorable and an event that improved your life. Those experiences get you going back, even if you don’t need anything. It’s the feeling.
So building up to the sale needs to be all about building up the customers’ passions and/or fears, making them feel like they are cared for and they matter. Showing them that you are a genuine brand and that you offer true value and a real positive solution for the specific problem they have. You need to make them feel why you are selling and have that deep why explain why they need to buy. You need to express to them the win/win/win of the sale and create an event that will improve not only their lives, but the lives of the people and the places and things they care about.
Then the sale needs to feel like a positive event that is the first step in a brighter better life for them. They need to feel like they have made a bond with you and they want to come back and experience more and more of your positive energy, your care and your respect for them.
The strongest feeling we as humans have is the need to relate and to feel like we belong. So develop a great brand, give extra value, make your customer feel great and use your sale to build a relationship and build a community of like minded humans living social lives of positive transactions.
I know at the end I’ve heaped on the positive goodie scoop of metaphorical icing; going a little too far for those of you who just want to know how to sell a flyswat. (Or whatever.) However, I’m selling my blog and now that you’ve made it this far, I feel like I’ve made my sale. I got you to read every ounce of my musing on the importance and the process of selling.
I really hope you got something beneficial out of this blog. Personally, I believe the future will be a dynamic time and I truly believe our ability to sell and to persuade is going to be of vital need as we move into a world that is increasingly digital.
We as avatars of a digital world need to know how to sell our presence on the web, get ideas across, critically evaluate the communication of others and sell ideas, products and services in the future economy.
If you enjoyed this read How to Prepare for the Future and Develop the Skills You Need.