What is it that makes some entrepreneurs and small business owners so incredibly successful? Obviously, having a good product or service is important. But more than that, it’s making sure that you can sell it: that you can build a relationship and get your story across to customers and clients.
As a business coach, I’ve worked with dozens of businesses and helped them to be much more effective at selling. Some top tips:
- Get other people talking first. The more you understand other people’s backgrounds, needs, hopes and worries, the more you can target what you offer. Always start a discussion with a prospective customer by saying something like: “Rather than just talk at you, would you mind if I ask you a few questions to understand a little about you and your situation please?”
- Understand the power of stories. Customers get really bored hearing about the features and benefits of whatever you do. Hearing about things in the abstract is a guaranteed way to switch people off. Instead, share real-life examples of how you helped others. How did you help customers to experience utter joy? Or maybe you know of someone who didn’t come to you who suffered disastrous consequences. Psychologists have discovered that telling stories activates deep parts of listeners’ brains and forges a stronger connection with both you and what you do.
- Make your stories compelling. Everybody loves a story. But you must provide enough colour and detail to make your stories interesting. For example, if there was something quirky or amusing or different about a past customer, how you go to know each other or anything else – share it. Or if a previous, happy customer experienced some kind of complication or problem along the way, talk about it. And then explain how you dealt with the problem and helped that other customer. Being specific with concrete details can help to bring stories to life.
- Prepare stories that mirror different customers. If you’re selling to a young Asian woman, don’t talk about how you worked with an old white guy. As far as possible, assemble a set of stories that covers the full spectrum of people.
- Remember that your job is as much about empathy as education. Customers don’t buy for purely logical reasons. They also have to trust you. One of the best ways to can show that you’re trustworthy is by empathising with how someone feels. I worked with an entrepreneur who spent 5 minutes before every sales meeting writing down a half-dozen bullet points about what the prospective customer might be thinking or feeling. For each of your customers, do the same. What might his or her goals and objectives be? What might he or she be feeling – excitement about an opportunity, anger about a problem, anxiety about an upcoming situation, or something else? The more you can put yourself into your customer’s shoes, the better the rapport you’ll build.
- Treat yourself with self-compassion. Rejection and failure are inevitable. No one succeeds all of the time. Review each disappointment to learn the lesson but then move on. Beating yourself up over every mistake is not just a waste of time – you’ll damage your motivation in the long run.
Dr Rob Yeung (www.robyeung.com) is a psychologist and business coach at business growth consultancy Talentspace and author of books including How To Win: The Argument, the Job, the Pitch, the Race and How To Stand Out: Proven Tactics for Getting Noticed (both published by Capstone).
Visit Rob’s official page: www.robyeung.com
Follow Rob on Twitter: @robyeung
We also highly recommend Rob’s books:
How to Win: The Argument, the Pitch, the Job, the Race
How to Stand Out: Proven Tactics for Getting Noticed
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