We’ve all been there. Talking to a salesperson who failed miserably at making us feel at ease and like they genuinely cared about our needs.
The thing is, selling is essential to running a successful business. Unfortunately, these past experiences keep many entrepreneurs from going for it because they are afraid of coming across as “sleazy.”
In this episode of Shop Talk, I will provide tips on how to sell without being sleazy and focus on building relationships and trust with customers. Selling is not just for the commission-hungry, but it is necessary for helping customers solve their problems and meet their needs. By following these principles, you can learn how to sell the right way while maintaining your integrity and building positive relationships with clients.
Snapshot of this episode:
- 3:30 – The Lasting Impact Of A Sleazy Salesperson
- 6:56 – The Secret To Successful Selling
- 8:25 – The 6 Steps To Selling Without Sleaze
- 12:03 – The Million Dollar Discovery Call Process
- 24:45 – Closing The Sale
- 31:37 – Overcoming Objections
Learning to sell is a critical aspect of business, but it can be challenging to strike the right balance between being effective and making people uncomfortable. I think it’s safe to say that many of us have probably worked with a bad salesperson, leaving us with such a bad taste in our mouth that “sales” practically becomes a bad word.
Because of this, when it comes to selling your products or services, you don’t want to make others feel the same – so you avoid selling altogether.
The Lasting Impact Of A Sleazy Salesperson
I’ll share my first experience with a lousy salesperson. (I am TOTALLY going to date myself. But, here it goes…)
Years ago, I walked into our local ABC Warehouse (remember them?) – HA!
My washing machine broke down, and I had to get a new one. I entered the store and was immediately greeted by the commission-hungry salesperson waiting at the front door.
He said, “Watcha here for?”
A washing machine.
“No problem, I got you.”
He guided me to the washing machines and started pitching me right away.
Honestly, he rambled on for what felt like forever. Every time I tried to ask a question, he talked over me and kept saying something to the effect of “This is the best you’re going to get for the money.”
I don’t know if he thought he could be more casual because I was young or if he thought I was stupid, but he basically just talked at me, telling me what he thought I wanted to hear.
Either way, I was totally turned off and left without a washing machine.
Here’s what he didn’t know about me because he didn’t care to ask:
- I was married.
- I had money.
- And I had four kids – and every day I didn’t have a washing machine, I had a minimum of 3 loads of laundry piling up for me.
I was a VERY motivated buyer, to say the least.
But I walked out without buying anything because he messed up. He belittled me and apparently thought I had no money leading him to assume I wanted the cheapest deal.
All because he didn’t ask me anything before he started pitching.
We’ve all experienced this. And this is a recipe for a TERRIBLE salesperson.
The Secret To Successful Selling
Little did he know I would use my experience with him for the next 25 years to become a fantastic salesperson and then move on to formally train over 1,800 salespeople in my previous career (before I started YMC).
Throughout all of my experience learning to sell, I discovered that professional salespeople – the ones that ACTUALLY know what they are doing – don’t sell.
Instead, they make recommendations with authority.
Let me give you an example of what I mean…
Have you ever been out of town and asked a local about their favorite restaurant?
They will typically say something like, “I have a few favorites. What kind of food are you looking for?”
“Oh, yea! There’s a great little Italian restaurant down the road.”
That’s making a recommendation with authority.
They’ve eaten there. Had a great experience and loved the food, so they recommended it to you.
This is also known as “needs-based selling.”
Needs-based selling is a sales approach that focuses on identifying the specific needs and wants of the customers.
Once the need is identified, the goal is to provide a solution that meets their unique situation.
The 6 Steps To Selling Without Sleaze
Selling doesn’t have to be uncomfortable. If it’s done right, you are really solving a problem. When you are learning to sell, it’s about guiding the prospect through a conversation designed to make them feel cared for and provide solutions that fit their unique needs. Here are the 6 steps I follow when sitting down with a potential client without being sleazy:
Step 1 – Ask Questions
In the coaching/consulting industry, it is common that we offer a free discovery call to prospective clients. The point of the discovery call is to ask key questions so that you can gather information about their needs.
(In a minute, I’ll share the format for those questions!)
Step 2 – Listen
This might seem obvious, but most people don’t listen. While the person is talking, they are thinking about what they want to say next. The fastest way to turn off a prospect is to make them feel like you aren’t listening.
Step 3 – Summarize
What I mean by this is that you want to summarize what you heard them articulate their problem.
(I’ll show you an example of this in a minute, too!)
Step 4 – Educate
This is something really important. In this step, you get the chance to deliver value and position yourself as an expert that they would feel comfortable working with.
Step 5 – Present Options (based on the prospect’s needs)
The number one way to feel sleazy is to sell something to someone that they don’t need, want, or doesn’t make sense for their situation. If you’ve conducted your discovery call appropriately and listened to their responses, you know if your programs, products, or solutions are a good fit. Make sure you present them accordingly.
Step 6 – Ask For The Sale and Answer Questions
Once you present your solutions, you ask for the sale and answer questions.
The Million Dollar Discovery Call Process
When you are with a prospect, you need a rock-solid way to guide them through the discovery call. So, let me walk you through my “Million Dollar Discovery Call Process.”
(I call it that because it sounds sexy, right? – Ha!)
Actually, the real reason why I named it that is because it has made millions of dollars in my business! I know it works. If I am on the phone with a qualified prospect, I will close 80%+ of the time using this process.
You can implement this in your business TODAY and start getting results on your discovery sales calls!!!
The first set of questions is designed to build rapport and get the prospect to open up to you, acknowledging they have a problem.
Questions I might ask in this stage are:
- Tell me about your business.
- How do you currently get clients?
- What’s the biggest challenge in your business right now? Tell me about that. (Capture as much detail as possible.)
- How long has this been going on?
Identify their desired outcomes
Then I identify their desired outcomes (aka their goals and dreams).
Questions I might ask here are:
- Where do you see yourself one year from now?
- How much would you like to be earning each month?
- How many people are on the team?
- How many hours are you working?
Identify their roadblocks
Then we transition into questions identifying what’s stopping them from achieving their goals/dreams.
Questions I might ask them are:
- What do you feel is getting in the way of you achieving those things?
- Why do you say that?
- Have you tried to solve those issues in the past?
- What do you feel prevented you from solving the problem?
Summarize what they’ve shared
Now it’s time to summarize the problems they shared. This lets them know they were heard and allows them to clarify their needs.
Questions I might ask are:
- Based on what you shared, it sounds like you need help with [problem].
- Is that accurate?
- If we could help you with [problem], how soon would you like to get started?
- What would you need to get started?
Is this a qualified prospect?
My goal with these questions is to determine if I am talking to a qualified prospect.
A qualified prospect is someone who is ready, willing, and able to move forward with the solutions I am about to recommend.
Ready means that they recognize they have a problem.
Willing means they are willing to change their circumstances.
Able means that they have the means to move forward. This means they can make the decision, they have the money, etc.
If the person is not ready, willing, and able to move forward, I’ll stop the call and say something like, “it doesn’t sound like we’d be a good fit at this time.” Then I tell them why.
However, before leaving the conversation, I give them resources to support their journey. This has served me well because these people often recommend our business to people they know and, down the road, eventually become future clients.
Closing The Sale
If they are ready, willing, and able to move forward, I share helpful information. As a coach, I like to provide insight into what we’ve discovered. Basically, I start coaching them right away.
Questions I might ask at this point are:
- Would it be ok if I shared how we approach this problem? [Permission – not pushy]
- Strategy, educate, coaching, insight, “consulting.”
- Does that make sense? [Trial Close]
Offer the solution(s)
Now it’s finally time to present any solutions that I think best fit their needs. I typically pull up a sales page and walk through it with them.
A well-made sales page lets you present the offer, so it does the work for you.
Ask for the sale
Once I’m done presenting, I am ready to ask for the sale.
I’ve noticed that entrepreneurs struggle with this. My favorite close is the assumptive close.
I ask, “Do you have any questions?” After we have cleared up any additional questions, I tell them that we can get started right away and begin to explain what they can expect to happen next.
One of two things is going to happen here.
- They will start asking me more questions.
- They go with the flow and sign up.
Try this yourself. I think you’ll be surprised how many people will move forward with you.
Your prospect may have questions. In the sales industry, they call this “overcoming objections.” But I call this asking questions because when a prospect brings up a question or concern, you just have to walk them through it. After going through the discovery call process, I only have to remind them of what they want (which is different from a sleazy salesperson telling them that this is what they want.)
What about prospects who say, “I want to think about it.” This is probably the worst objection you can get in sales because – what do you do with that? However, that objection will go away if, in the discovery, you ask them, “If we could solve this problem, how soon would you like to get started?”
If they still want to think about it, ask them, “What would you like to think about?” They usually don’t know how to respond because no one has ever asked them that before. In my experience, in having a conversation with someone who wants time to think about it, everything comes down to the fact that something is not sitting right. This is a good opportunity to ask them to let you clarify anything they are still unsure of. This way, anything they have holding them back is out of the way.
To get them over the hurdle, I might say something like, “I know you shared with me that you’ve been struggling with this for the past 3 years trying to find a solution. I’ve just shared with you that we have that solution. Why would you want to delay your progress any longer?”
When a prospect comes to you, this process allows you to take the time to make sure they have been heard and feel that you care about their business. That extra time and care will make all the difference in your selling process!