Part 1 – Know Your Ideal Client
I’m sure you’ve heard it before. But it can’t be over emphasized that as an entrepreneur you can’t effectively sell if you don’t know who you’re talking to, what their needs and struggles are and how you can specifically be of service to them. To do that you need to really know your ideal client.
So in order to get comfortable with selling, this first step is all about preparation.
- How old are they?
- Are they married?
- Do they have kids?
- Where do they live?
- Do they own a business?
- Do they have a job?
- Are they looking for a job?
- Do they have a disability?
- Do they go to church?
- Do they vote?
- What kind of magazines do they read?
- What stores do they shop at?
- What industry are they in?
You need to get very specific in defining your client so that you can visualize him/her. Visualize what they look like, what clothes they wear, where they went to school, what kind of house they live in, what hobbies they have, etc.
Many successful entrepreneurs so clearly visualize their ideal client that they name the person. Make your ideal client real to you. It’s when you have that clarity that you’ll notice that person anywhere you go. And your selling efforts will be effective because you’ll know exactly how your product and services will benefit your ideal client.
Where do entrepreneurs find ideal prospects? Once you’ve identified your ideal client, you’ll know where to network whether online or offline. You’ll know what industries, companies, and associations to target when you’re doing your research. Also, look for others who serve that community and see how you can partner with them or share referrals.
Don’t try to be all things to all people because you don’t want to miss out on a piece of business. When an entrepreneur is laser focused, people will say, “Thank G-d, we finally have someone who understands our struggles and pains and gets what we’re trying to accomplish.” It doesn’t mean you won’t sell to anyone else. It just allows you to attract the person who wants to buy.
Part Two continues on another aspect of preparation entrepreneurs need before beginning to sell, so be sure to follow the whole series. I’d love to hear any comments or questions you have. I want to support you in your journey toward being comfortable with selling.
Part 2 – Know Your Benefits
You’ll see an ongoing theme in this 5-part series on Getting Comfortable with Selling – it’s all about preparation and laying the foundation for your rejection-prevention plan.
Fear of rejection is what makes most people afraid of selling. By following the suggestions in this 5 part series, you’ll minimize that fear, even potentially completely erase it, because you’ll know what to expect and how to handle it.
In the last post I shared the importance of knowing your ideal client. Now I want to share why as an entrepreneur you need to get really clear about what products and services you’re offering to your community and why those products and services will benefit them.
This step involves defining the value in what you bring to the audience.
When I look back at some of my sales pages when I first launched Metromom, I was telling them, “You’ll get the class that does this and we’ll meet this many times a week and you’ll get the CD and the transcript,” and really, nobody cares about that. They care about how whatever you’re offering it’s going to benefit them.
A really simple project (and important one) is to right down a list of all the benefits your ideal client will get. This will even improve your mindset which is the beginning of your success.
Once you have your benefits clearly identified there are two more areas you need to prepare:
- Create conversation starters such as thought-provoking questions.These questions connect the gap between who your ideal client is, what their problems are, and what your value is.Rather than telling the reader why they need your product or service create questions around your target market’s pain. These questions start your client thinking, “I need your help to solve this problem.”You’re engaging in a dialogue and getting them to think about information that they haven’t before so they clearly see their need. You’re not even in a position of selling them. You’re just asking good quality questions and they determine, “I need your help.”
- Identify any potential objections.When you’re dealing with potential clients, you’re probably hearing some recurring objections. “I don’t have the time, I don’t have the money. I need to check this with my spouse.” It’s really important for you as an entrepreneur to identify these objections, because you can address them before they actually become objections. You can say, “If you only have a few minutes a day you’re going to love this product …”
By focusing on the benefits you offer as well as creating some thought-provoking questions and preparing potential objections you’ll be able to engage in the sales conversation.
Listening is what makes selling effective for entrepreneurs. It’s listening and asking good quality questions.
And the good new is that this is really simple, it’s not even a technique really. It’s just the quality of an engaged human being. Then you know how you can be of service and that in itself makes the selling process that much easier.
Part 3 – Take the Focus Off of You
The third step in this series of blogs on getting comfortable with selling is about your own mental preparation – your mindset. When you’re really clear on who you can help and how and why, and you know your material you’re well on your way to getting comfortable with selling. But too often we carry our own junk that puts us into the wrong mindset.
When you’re worried about rejection, it’s because you’re focusing on yourself. You’re in it for you rather than being of service to them.
No matter how badly you want the sale, you’re only going to make the sale if it’s right for them. And the only way you’re going to know that is through the question process. Quite often if you’re “rejected” it’s for one of two reasons – it’s either not right for them or you didn’t find out well enough what they needed.
Remember a sale isn’t just about getting someone to buy your product. It’s also about making connections, getting referrals. You could be speaking with somebody who isn’t your ideal customer but because of how you handle the process – engaging in a conversation rather than being pushy – he or she may lead you to somebody who is your ideal client. What you might have perceived as rejection wasn’t really rejection at all. It’s just moving you along the path.
Ask yourself, “How attached am I to the outcome? Must the sale happen?”
I often tell my comical story about when I was in direct sales. I have a cousin that I wanted to work with. She’d lost her job and I felt it was the perfect timing to share my “opportunity” with her. So at lunch we were talking and I was presenting it to her again, and this time, I was attached to the outcome because I really, really wanted to work with her. She was my dearest friend.
And… she just looked at me point blank and said, “Kim, there’s nothing about what you do that’s interesting to me.”
It was like a knife in my gut and I could feel myself getting all warm and sweaty. I wanted to leave our lunch date but she got to me before I could and said, “Kim, get over yourself. This isn’t about you. I didn’t say that your business is bad. I didn’t say you’re bad. I didn’t say nobody would want your business. I just said that I don’t want your business.”
She went on to explain, “Kim, it’s as if you’ve offered me Coke and I want Sprite, and you’re getting upset because I want Sprite and you wanted me to want Coke. Let it go.”
That was a really huge lesson for me. I wanted it way too badly. I was too attached to the outcome and so I wasn’t rational in that moment. She made me see how much I wanted it for me, not for her.
The truth is sometimes you’re going to fall on your face by saying or doing something you wish you hadn’t. But pick yourself up, learn from it and try a different course. It gives you a new perspective on how to look at the sales conversation when you’re not focusing on yourself, not being too attached to the outcome, but focusing on how you can be of service to the person you’re engaging with. Then it’s not scary at all. In Part 4 you’ll learn how to engage your prospect in the sales conversation.
Part 4 – Be Engaging With Your Sales Conversation
I’ve been sharing one specific tip at a time that will help you feel much more comfortable with selling. After you’ve clearly identified the benefits of your products and services and who your ideal client is part of your preparation has been to think of engaging questions to start conversations in a way that addresses common objections that you’ve been hearing.
But how do you take the conversation to the next level where you get to share your information with them without being pushy?
When they express themselves listen very carefully for where there pain is coming from and more than likely you’ll need to ask more questions and be prepared to listen closely until you’re able to say. …”Oh, here’s a solution that I really think will work for you.”
Too often people find themselves doing too much talking and not enough asking questions and listening. Sales is about listening and connecting. This is where being a parent has helped me. I’ve learned that it’s not about me so I have to shut my mouth and just ask a question. That’s the only way to get my kids talking. It’s much better than me talking at them.
When you ask good questions, you’re not asking the questions necessarily for yourself. You’re asking it so that they can hear their own answer.
Just be sure your questions aren’t overly prying or offensive. If you’re asking out of genuine concern, they’ll feel that. Be prepared for their silence. Even though it seems like an interminable amount of time, give them that space. Don’t try to fill every pause. They need that time to think, and more than likely they’ve never thought of it that way before or else they would have solved their own problem.
Your being present and engaging that person (be it your child or a potential client) in conversation will almost always enrich and deepen your relationship with them. And when somebody is fully engaged, they’re not going to feel like they’re been “sold” on something they don’t really want.
Rather than launching into a canned pitch of your products, acknowledge that your questions are your pitch. They lead the prospect to feeling you know their pain. And if you’re asking these questions they’re also thinking, “Wow, if you’re asking me these questions you must have a solution to the problems I’m telling you about.”
So if you skip over knowing your audience and knowing your benefits, you won’t know what direction to take the conversation. You’re line of questioning has to be based on what value you can bring to someone. So when you give them your information they’ll already have sold themselves on you.
Part 5 – Close the Sale Naturally
The final step I’m going to share has to do with closing the deal.
Does this cause you to feel panic set in?
Many entrepreneurs look at closing their sale as an event versus just an extension of the conversation they’ve been having. They feel they have to slip into another mode to do “it”. Typically many feel that after engaging in this great conversation with someone where you’ve asked questions and understood their problem and their pain that you’ve now got to “push your product”.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
I’ve been to so many conferences where they’re selling something from the stage and you can feel the shift in the energy and their voice as they move into the “offer”. It’s like you get 45 minutes of content and now, it’s time for the end of the conference pitch and you can feel the shift.
Closing the sale naturally is simply just a matter of summarizing what you’ve heard, and then just asking for the business. That’s all there is to it. If you find yourself starting to feel stress and your voice gets tighter and higher pitched, or you start clearing your throat because resources/overview/money/bob”>remember that this person in front of you has a problem and you can help them.
In summarizing the conversation you could say, “So I’ve heard you say that you’re struggling with this problem because of this reason. Do I have that right?” It shows you’ve really been listening and that you care about them. It also allows them to correct anything that wasn’t communicated clearly. You’ll know how you can truly be of service to them.
Then you can say, “I’ve had to overcome that very same problem, or I’ve helped so-and-so conquer that problem and this is how we did it. Would you be interested in this solution?” It’s as easy as sharing the name of your hair stylist with someone who’s having a bad hair day.
Remember: the biggest mistake is jumping in and explaining your solution before you understand their full situation. That will happen if you’re just asking superficial surface questions and not truly understanding their problem. It takes patience and more energy to go deeper and you have to fight our own instincts to just be done fast. Just eliminating this mistake alone will increase your conversion from prospect to client tremendously.
When I think about what gets me to buy it’s because of how well I feel I’ve been understood. There’s no official pitch – it’s been smoothly woven into all that they’ve spoken about.
I’d like to encourage you to observe how others sell to you and take note of what you respond to or what really turns you off. And then emulate what’s good and throw away what’s not.
I hope that this series on getting comfortable with selling has helped you to conquer any negative feelings you may have had about the sales process. Your community needs to receive the full benefit of your brilliance and wisdom. If you still have questions or concerns, please share them with me.