Six Strategies to Sell More by Selling Less
I first wrote about the concept of selling more by selling less in a 2016 article, How to Sell More by Selling Less. While that article was written from the marketing perspective, thought I would now talk about what sales reps and their managers can do to create a healthier and more productive sales environment.
A smart guy I am connected to on LinkedIn, named Paul Watts, has the same mindset. His mission statement is: “Changing the Negative Perception of Salespeople with a VISION of making Selling a Profession to be Proud Of.” I appreciate where Paul is coming from and the goal is very good as an aspiration. After all, who doesn’t want to be proud of their profession, especially if the prospects you deal with hold you in high esteem? But how exactly do we accomplish this?
Here are six strategies to get you – and the rest of us who make our living in sales or marketing – a more positive perception and better outcomes.
- Quit trying to sell to people who have no interest or desire for what you offer. Sounds simple but there are many sales reps (think outbound telemarketers) that make a living by interrupting people and attempting to convince them to buy something they had no thought of moments before. Isn’t it preferable to work with prospects who are already looking for information about your product or service area? Your job is then to be a guide or facilitator, supplying the right information and tailoring your product or solution to meet their needs.
- Seek first to serve, then to sell. We’ve all had the experience of a new connection who immediately jumps on us with an offer to set up a call to hear about their terrific product or service. This may work in some cases but it also sets the relationship as the hunter (sales rep) and prey (you, the prospect). You immediately regret making the connection and do everything possible to avoid the aggressive rep. Instead, offer something of value, like industry insights or data, before making any pitch. Larry Levine, stated this succinctly in a recent LinkedIn article, “A Servant Mindset Is Rocket Fuel For Sales Growth.”
- Build meaningful connections. Smart B2B sales reps use social media tools liked LinkedIn to locate, connect with, and engage prospects. As mentioned in my previous point, they become known as valuable information resources before a sales engagement takes place. I assure you from my experience and that of my clients, that a person who comes to you seeking information, and is satisfied with what you supply, is far likelier to buy from you than the competition. Learn more about building profitable connections from my Slideshare presentation.
- Add value to your prospects at every stage of the process. Depending on the type of buying/selling funnel you utilize, there can be anywhere from a few steps, to a dozen or more. Your mission is to add value (outside of the attempt to sell something) at every interaction, whether online, via phone, or in-person. This value does not have to be strictly business-oriented. Your prospects are human beings who appreciate dealing with other humans on a personal, not just transactional basis – so don’t be afraid to express your warmth, your humor, and your sincere interest.
- Drop the hard sell approach. A fair number of companies still follow the ABC (Always be Closing) paradigm. This may work short-term but if you are working with B2B professionals, the costs in terms of reputation and future lost revenue are usually not worth it. Understand that everyone you frustrate or anger during the sales process is a couple of mouse clicks and keystrokes away from leaving you one or more negative online reviews.
- Resolve to move up the food chain. As the below graphic shows, prospects and customers tend to place you on a hierarchical scale, based on your perceived value to their organization. It is hard to move up the food chain once you have been recognized at a lower level.Your goal is to sell in such a way that you start, and remain, at a higher level. Trusted advisers don’t come off as aggressive sales people and they certainly don’t jump into a pricing discussion until requirements and value have been established. It may be a bit harder to sell at the strategic level but the benefits are great in terms of deal size, price sensitivity, sales cycle and so forth.
Although this article is primarily aimed at sales reps, the marketing department can play an important role in supporting their sales colleagues. First of all, they can create a strong online infrastructure, starting with the website, that attracts and educates prospects. They can also develop a qualification and nurturing program that regularly communicates with not-ready prospects and passes on only those ready to engage in the sales process.
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