One Sunday night back in 1981 when I was a new realtor, my friend Lisa taught me how to call FISBOs (for sale by owners). I was shy at heart so to pick up the phone and call a stranger completely freaked me out.
So Lisa made a call, and I listened to how she did it. Then it was my turn. My hands were shaking and I was barely breathing when I called my first prospect. I introduced myself and asked how things were going with his home for sale.
The man I had called started yelling at me and told me not to call him again. I hung up the phone and cried.
After a few more calls and a nice conversation with a man named Roy who owned three rentals, I knew that I could do this.
I learned one important truth that night that has served me since.
Always ask if you can follow-up with them and add value in any way you can.
I stayed in touch with Roy after that call that night. I sent him information about the market, and each time I asked if I could check back with him. He always said yes.
One day about three months later, Roy called and said he wanted to list all three properties with me. This experience paved the way for me to have the courage and guts to call The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and other major publications to pitch my stories when I was the PR person representing Microsoft’s Healthcare Industry Solutions Group. I never forgot that building relationships is key in business, and that follow-up plays a major role in sales.
I’ve heard it said that 50 percent of all sales are made in the follow-up.
I’m no longer afraid to ask for the sale or ask someone to be interviewed or whatever comes up that needs to be done.
I know that the worst thing I will hear is “no” and I can live with that. I have that “Hank Aaron philosophy” of the more times I strike out, the more home runs I will make. This one learning experience has had a huge ripple effect in my life.
We’re All in the Business of Sales
Dan Pink, author of To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others says that everyone is now a seller. We’re all in the business of persuading people to take action. Dan says that one in nine workers is make a living by sales but that best practices regarding sales have changed over the years.
We all have a negative connotation about sales but it doesn’t have to be this way anymore. We’re all in the business of helping people get what they want. So we’re in the business of selling transformation and outcomes.
We are living through a revolution due to the Internet. The world of work has changed and anyone can start an online business. If you are in business, you are persuading, pitching, inspiring and negotiating.
I work with both introverts and extraverts that are not comfortable with sales. Pink says the best sales people are “ambiverts” because they fall in between introverts and extraverts. To find out where you stand, take Pink’s assessment. I’m an ambivert;)
The traits of a successful seller
1. Attunement is the first trait of a successful seller because when you are attuned to your customer, you understand their perspective. Conversations connect us to each other and the best way to create rapport is through a conversation to help put the other person at ease. Find something you might know about your potential client or something you have in common to chat about.
2. Buoyancy is the second successful trait. To remain buoyant and survive repeated rejections, practice these three steps:
- Ask yourself questions in advance of meeting with a potential client: “Can I succeed?” You want to brainstorm answers, reasons, and intrinsic motivation — this is interrogative self-talk. Social scientists have found that the most effective self-talk moves from making positive affirmations or declarations to asking questions. So next time you have to make a big presentation or have a sales conversation, try this: “Can I make a great pitch?” By asking a question as self-talk, you will naturally move to answers – “yes I’m prepared” or “yes I can do this because I’ve done this so many times.” I would also suggest that you use this technique and find three specific examples that you know to be true about how you are prepared.
- Be positive in the session: When you are positive it helps your potential buyer be more positive.
- Be optimistic: believe that rejections are temporary, contained, and due to external factors.
3. Clarity – you must be clear about what you are offering and why your potential buyer doesn’t buy. You don’t want to offer too many options. A confused mind never buys. Highlight the experiences they will gain and give them a clear action to take.
4. Pitch – all of us have shorter attention spans these days so craft your pitch in a short few sentences.
5. Improvise – listen to what your potential customer says. Pink says to hear their answers as “offers” not objections. Say “Yes, and….” because this is the language of agreement and you add a suggestion.
6. Service – the best sellers give great service. They know they are in the business of helping other people. Even when I don’t have enough spots for complimentary business, we send each person a worksheet to help them. Go above what is normal – it will create fans!
The more you practice your sales conversations, the better you will become. Make them natural conversations in the spirit of helping someone transform their life. This is why you are here to make a difference by using your unique gifts and talents.
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I’m excited to announce that Make Money Now: Get Out of Your Own Way to Step into Profits, will open in late March for registration. The women in my program have learned sales and how to sell using a heart-based program I call transformational selling. If you have a business and you want to make more money doing what you love, check it out here.