Selling is super awkward a lot of the time, or at least it can be and was for me for a while when I first started selling things to people. I never know how polished I should be or how professional I should come off. I was worried people wouldn’t take me seriously because I was only a short 23 year old at the time – with a babyface. Over the years though I’ve kind of developed a style that I think is very effective, yet doesn’t make me feel awkward or unsure of myself. Here are some of the key ideas behind my selling style:
1. Be Yourself
However cliche it might be, being yourself while you’re working through the sales process is just super important. It automatically just removes a ton of the doubt, awkwardness, unsureness, etc. because you’re not pretending to be something you aren’t. For me, being myself during a sales meeting means wearing clothes I like (ie not a suit/tie), talking the way I normally talk (my customers must get sick of the words “awesome” and “like”), and usually bringing a cup of coffee along for the ride (pretty much every time).
Feeling like myself, allows me to really be myself in a meeting. No false pretenses, no pretentiousness (ty google spell check) about what I do know or don’t know, no trying to prove myself and the product/service I represent.
The crazy part — I’ve found people LOVE this. People love seeing a young 26 yr old coming into their office with jeans and a starbucks, granted we are selling web design, but still! They love talking about real-life things like family and local community news. They love feeling like you aren’t forcing them into this box of “professionalism.” This is I think a very foundational piece in terms of building a trusting relationship with your potential new customer.
Sure, people have sometimes scoffed at my outfit, maybe kind of looked at me as though I’m not really looking “business man” enough. But honestly it happens WAY less than you would think. We’re all just humans, we all have families, we all want to feel respected and feel as though we’re having honest conversations with other real people.
2. Be Ridiculously Honest
This is another one that took me a while to learn, but now, I wouldn’t do it any other way. This is where the title of the blog comes from really. If your best friend and a new prospect you don’t know each asked you the same question, how would you respond to each? My thought is that the advice you would give to your best friend is just as valuable to that new prospect, and they would actually be floored at the insight you might let them in on by being ridiculously honest with them.
An example that I have found this specifically applies to is over-selling, in other words, trying to sell more than a person honestly needs. It’s super easy to get pulled into that mindset of “oh man, I could def get this guy on a bigger package” or “I could upsell this guy to the next level” or “I bet she’s loaded, let’s try to get as much as we can” (yes, I’ve heard that said before). Sometimes it’s just like low hanging fruit — you have all the information, you know the pricing and you know the customer’s budget — you can pretty much play it out perfectly to maximize your gain. But please, don’t.
This approach is totally unsustainable. The reason: your customers aren’t stupid. Sooner or later they will realize they have been over-sold and they will realize that you weren’t totally honest with them. This leads to a MASSIVE bit of mistrust. Which means you won’t be doing a lot, if any, more work for them. Worse than that even, you won’t be getting any referrals or any recommendations from them to other potential customers. You’re being both dishonest and a dumb marketer all at the same time.
I’ve found being totally honest about pricing and the way we work has resulted in a ton of great relationships. People can insta-tell that you mean what you say, and what you say, you know to be true. I’ve had cases where I told a customer who was ready to buy our product flat out “you don’t really need us, here is a link, you can do this on your own.” Guess what, about a week later they sent me an email asking to quote for an even bigger job that is perfect for our company. That is how it works, that is an example of honest selling.
3. Do What You Say You’re Going to Do
Would you ever let your best friend down in their moment of need after you promised to help them? Doubt it. Keep that same level of trust and reliability with your customers, both in the sales process and especially after they begin using your product or service. If they need something by tomorrow, and you promise it, don’t flake off. If you tell them you can double their sales, you better be able to back that up. I know this one is a bit more obvious than the others, but for me, it’s equally as important.