I hate the expression – ’the hard sell’. ‘He gave me the hard sell’ means you’ve been heavied, harassed and harangued by a salesman. But anyone who’s ever had a business knows that the best salespeople aren’t heavy-handed or aggressive. Instead they have a quality product and the courage to market that product honestly and effectively.
Why people don’t enjoy selling
Many people find selling difficult. One of the reasons it is difficult is because we fear rejection. When we sell we are offering ourselves and our services to others. If these are rejected we feel unworthy – unloved. However, in business, you need to know how to sell. You are effectively asking to be fairly paid for your endeavours, especially if you created the product! I have read research that shows that women are less likely to expect to be fairly paid than men. Eighty percent of women believe they are underpaid, and yet two-thirds have never asked for more money. Often they shy away from ‘selling’ their strengths to their bosses. That is crazy. Of course women deserve the same pay as men.
Women versus Men
Sara Laschever, who co-wrote Why Women Don't Ask, says women are brought up to be undemanding. “We like girls to be nice, pliable, pleasant, accommodating,” she said. “Boys are taught to be self-promoting, to be a little tough guy. Boys are encouraged to set goals and taught how to go about reaching them; girls are taught to think about the needs of a group.”
Let’s be clear here, when I refer to selling – whether that is selling goods or your own services – I’m talking about getting a fair and just price for what you and your goods and services are worth. I am not suggesting you overcharge or exploit people. I am saying it is important that people are paid what they are worth and that often involves selling. You may have to sell yourself to your boss and convince him or her that you deserve a pay rise, or you may have a stall at a market and be enticing shoppers to try your produce. Both are forms of selling!
Reframe how you see your product
You will feel more positive about selling if you reframe how you see your product. If you know you have a quality product then you are essentially enriching someone’s life by selling it to them. If people will benefit from using your goods or services then sales is about looking after people. Your ultimate goal is to assist customers identify and meet needs. Selling must never be about pushing goods onto people which they don’t want and don’t need. Selling is showing people how they can benefit from your product. If you don’t have faith in your product, I’m afraid it is time you looked for a new job.
Make it about them not you
The best salespeople do not ‘do the hard sell and then close the deal’. That’s the old ‘spray and pray’ method. Good selling is a two-way dialogue. You should do more listening than talking. You need to learn about the customer’s needs. That means asking key questions, then listening. Finally, you should put specific options to them. Do not run through the gambit of all you offer, but suggest only the products that will meet their needs. Remember you are not out there to influence people, but to educate them about available options to fit their needs.
If you are still shying away from marketing and selling your product perhaps you need to revisit how you view rejection. Every time you get a ‘no’ in sales tell yourself that it is part of the journey leading to success. When someone rejects what you are offering, it may be because the timing or the price wasn’t right or they didn’t understand your services or they believed they needed a different product. Aim to learn from rejection. You could try asking questions like: “Have you got another product in mind?” or “Where do you think you might find what you are searching for?” or “How could we change our product to make it more appealing to you?” These questions help you gauge what the customer is searching for so you can redesign or change your product.
Believe in Yourself
Believe in yourself! When you are explaining your services you may feel vulnerable and open yourself up to self-doubts. You might start wondering whether you or your product is worthy. Please, keep the faith. You have done your homework and invested time and energy making this product right! What you are selling can make people happy. Perhaps you can help people solve problems. Again, believe in yourself. Perhaps, try some role-playing. Think of someone you know who exudes confidence and pretend to be that person. How would she or he approach the sale? Would a confident person successfully sell? If the answer is yes, then pretend to be this person every time you sell! If you still answer ‘no’ then you do not believe in your product and need to do some more work before going to market.
Practice makes perfect
If you need a confidence boost consider first demonstrating your product to a group of friends. Do not expect your friends to buy. Tell your friends you have a business, but need some help in working out how to present to the public. Demonstrate your services or goods to a group of four to six and then ask for honest feedback. You may want to do this exercise more than once to build up your confidence. Selling is a skill like any other. If you practice and use it frequently, you will improve. To begin with it may prove difficult and of course you will have some hiccups and setbacks.
Don’t sell under pressure
Enjoy meeting and interacting with customers and never feel pressured to ‘close the sale’. Ideally you should not be under financial stress to immediately generate sales. My advice is always hold onto your day job and start a business on the side, that way you will have time to build it up and won’t be financially stressed. Focus on the customer, not their money. If you are a people person this will be easy. Enjoy meeting new people through your business. Learn about them, their likes and dislikes, their lifestyle. All this information will help you fit them with the right product or service!
Finally remember that you are in charge of the quality and desirability of your product. If you have come up with a ‘good thing’, get out there and sell it. Realise that you are not imposing on people, but doing them a favour by introducing them to something worthwhile. Now go for it!
ABOUT PAT MESITI
Pat Mesiti is a best-selling author, coach and educator in the area of personal development. Having built some of Australia’s largest people-driven organisations, Pat understands the power of harnessing human potential. He has shared the stage with some of the world’s great business minds and has sold over millions of copies of his books and materials.