Stop ‘Selling’ And Start Being Human
By Rob King, Founder and CEO of The Client Key
Storytelling is one of the oldest art forms of them all. What began around the campfire, thousands of years ago, still exists today.
When we tell a story (and all of us tell stories) we connect on a personal and emotional level. Truly great storytellers convince people to act – or more specifically in this context, to buy – using trust, emotion, and logic. Some of the greatest theological, scientific, and philosophical ideas or concepts would not have been established as undisputed fact today without the art of great persuasion (and storytelling) by their proponents.
LET’S BE VERY CLEAR ABOUT WHAT THE ART OF SALES IS…
You can think of what follows as a set of themes and guiding principles in all of your new business and sales conversations. They can serve as a reference to use as you develop and begin. These are a set of easy guidelines to help us start to break down the sales process into bite-sized chunks:
The first rule of law in Sales. Listen more than you talk. Practise becoming a better listener. Most people listen with the intent to respond, planning their response. Instead, try to be an active listener. Asking questions will allow you to understand more. Also think about what’s not being said, as this can often be just as revealing as what is being said. I could write a whole book on listening, but the main principle is: if you do one thing, talk less – listen more!
First and foremost, you are simply trying to understand the other person or company. Not trying just to sell them something – that can come (fairly naturally) later. Once you’ve understood a little more about that person you can begin to understand their needs and work out whether they align with yours.
It’s your job to help lower the tension levels in any conversation as quickly as possible. Both you and your client will have a degree of tension in any first conversation or meeting. It’s hardwired into our DNA as human beings to be a little wary in unfamiliar situations. Use the above tools to lower the tension levels and build rapport. Just a little: aim for the appropriate amount of rapport and no over-familiarity too soon.
Knowing how and when to get in touch with someone and land the right message takes some thought. Think in their mindset about would work and what wouldn’t. Some creative thinking is called for, and don’t be tempted to just fire stuff out and hope for the best. Make it different and memorable, and get clever as to how to contact people.
Whatever you do, make sure it’s credible. Ask yourself, and your team, is it good enough? Would I buy it as a client? Occasionally the answer will be ‘no’, and you might have to ruffle a few feathers internally. Integrity should run through every conversation, contact and connection with the client. The minute you lose integrity, clients will always pick up on it and you’ve lost credibility.
Most great salespeople are good communicators. Being very clear with your messaging and content will help things land quicker. Also, make sure you communicate internally, too. Sales is a team sport so make sure you’ve got the players you need, in the right positions, and they’re all talking to each other on a regular basis.
When you go into a conversation have full belief in yourself, your idea or your company. If you don’t have that belief, ask yourself: what is not right? Trust me, clients will spot the lack of belief a mile off. Conversely, when you’re fully on board, and have 100% belief in what you’re saying, you will ooze knowledge, authority and confidence that clients will find very hard to resist.
Sales is fun or at least it should be. Try to find the bits that you enjoy and celebrate your successes. Laugh at your failures. We’re not trying to put a man on the moon; we’re just trying to talk to some people and understand them. At its heart, Sales is a very human and social activity. Have some fun whilst you’re doing it!
Rob King is the founder and CEO of The Client Key and author of Selling Creativity: How Creatives and Agencies can Grow their Business through the Art of Sales
Founder & CEO of The Client Key