Have you thought about your sales approach? What's the best fit for you? We all grew up with the image of selling as a fast-talking, pushy, greedy affair. Many of us never moved beyond that negative mental image. I didn't learn that a different sales approach was possible until over a dozen years had passed in my professional career.
Nowadays you can find a lot more books on selling. But back in the late 90s, the first thing I ran into was Tom Hopkins' How To Master the Art of Selling (not an affiliate link). Good book. Lots of memorization. Objections, rebuttals, tie downs. Struggles.
I saw how it worked; I saw that it worked...that approach never felt right for me, however. People tell me I'm persuasive, but I'm not pushy by nature. I try to be diplomatic. So while I used Hopkins' techniques for awhile, I never felt comfortable with them. Nor did I enjoy the situations they consistently put me into with prospects.
As a salesperson, I never felt my job was to force or tactically push a prospect into becoming a client. Unfortunately, that's what my belief in traditional features-and-benefits selling is all about. It just wasn't a fit with me.
A Different Sales Approach
Many years later, after stints in and out of sales, I realized I didn't know why I was getting some orders and not winning others. Something was clearly wrong. Finally, in desperation, I started looking around for a different sales approach than the only way I had seen all of those years. I found consultative selling.
Consultative selling involves you in the world of your prospect. You match up what they're having a problem handling with what you provide solutions for. That way, you never sell something to someone who doesn't really need it. You don't get into those arguments I've seen in car dealerships, where a very tense prospect is being bombarded by a glowering salesperson, being told they must accept the high price and the prospect pushing back that they can't afford it. Do you challenge people? Sure. But you're making sure it's a good fit for both sides all the way long. And if it's not a good fit, you end the process.
I found the softer, clearer approach of consultative selling to be a much better fit with my personality. And a great book on this way of selling is Mahan Khasla's Let's Get Real Or Let's Not Play (again not an affiliate link).
So which is the best sales approach?
Here's the awesome thing about selling: you can succeed with either approach--or any other you can find. The key is sticking with it. Learning it inside and out. Both traditional and consultative selling require learning and some memorization. Traditional selling requires you to memorize all those objections and rebuttals; consultative selling makes you learn and remain conscious of a consistent sales process.
You can't get out of the work of learning how to sell, whichever way you want to do it.
But you can find a sales approach that you feel good about using.
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