- Business and Employment
How Do I Sell Anything?
The reason why I have chosen to take these top 5 tips from 'To Sell Is Human' is because it covers the whole spectrum of sales. The book itself explains how it has become second nature for us as human beings to sell a multitude of possessions, thoughts and services as we go about our daily lives.
As you begin reading the book, which I hope you will do, you begin to understand just how good you are at sales unconsciously, and what has shifted in the world of sales. There was once a time when your stereo typical salesman wore a shirt and tie, and was maybe a bit pushy when approaching a perspective customer. This was because the salesman had a wealth of knowledge that the customer could simply not obtain, this is known in the book as caveat emptor. However, in our day and age with the rise of the internet and multiple information sites like this one, the switch has been made to caveat venditor. In a nutshell the salesman does not have the upper hand, in fact in some respects the customer could potentially be more knowledgeable!
Anyway enough of me reading the book to you, if you want to read it go ahead and buy it! I will link it below. I promise you, you will not be disappointed! Well that is unless your one of the stereo typical salesmen mentioned above...if that is the case, I suggest you lose the slacks, throw out the tie, take a few days off work and get to reading! Please however remember to replace your slacks before going to work, as if you don't the only thing you will be selling is your ticket to a P45.
Tip #1 Focus On Your Non-Sales Selling
This is a great tip to start on, as it is something you probably do every day without even recognising it or associating any thought to it. This is the art of interaction with others, this could be done; face to face, on the phone or even via social media. How we do this is quite simple, it can be persuading your friend to come out for that cheeky little cocktail (or a beer if your not partial to an olive and an umbrella) on a Friday night. Without realising it you are selling the idea of the experience, the banging tunes, the flashing lights, the alcohol, the men, the women and most importantly the kebab! - In fact reading that I think I've sold myself on the idea!
As you begin to think about it, try to remember the times in which you have done this, and done it successfully. I can guarantee you were committed to the idea, that you were persuasive and that you made the other person feel like they were getting the best part of the deal.
Remember, when you are focusing on your non-sales selling that you are as the book puts it, persuading, convincing and influencing others to give up something they've got in exchange for what you've got.
If I were to put in a serious example that didn't involve alcohol and a kebab, which is a damn shame! but it is like me writing this article. I am trying to convince you to give up your time and attention in exchange for my tips and knowledge. It is a mutual benefit to both parties, which is a very important aspect of selling, this is something that is hugely over looked due to the 'I want it cheaper' economy we can sometimes find ourselves in.
Do You 'Sell' In Your Day To Day Life? (Outside Of Work)
Tip #2 Attunement
This is a great tip from the 'Always Be Closing' or 'ABC' section from the book.
In this section of the book it simply asks you to use your head as much as your heart. This expression was used to carry out an experiment in which researchers simulated a sales exchange at a petrol station. In which there was three groups, the first group were asked to think about what the other side was feeling in the exchange, whilst the second group were asked to think what the other side were thinking about the exchange. The final group was given just instructions what to do, as they were the control group in the experiment.
At the end of the experiment the first group struck a vast amount of more deals in the exchange than the the control group, however the real shining star was the second. 76% of the second group managed to strike a deal which was mutually beneficial to both parties. This shows that when trying to sell something, perspective thinking, or perspective taking as its referred to in the book, is the best root as it enables a collaboration between the sales person and the customer, allowing both parties to attune themselves reaching a deal which mutually benefits both sides.
By using a perspective taking approach in sales can also assist you to open your eyes to the wider picture, by really connecting with the customer or their associates. The example used in the book is that it would stink to spend a year trying to sell Mary only to realise Dave was the decision maker.
Not only is attunement a cognitive exercise it can also be used as a physical exercise in the form of mimicking. Research has shown that a 'monkey see, monkey do' approach in the sales exchange can lead to a better deal, as it reinforces to the customer on a subconscious level that you are in sync with them, and understand them far more. However please remember that when mimicking a customer to do it subtly, in the customer reaches into their pocket and pulls out a mars bar, don't reach in to yours and pull out fresh air, as it is a sure fire way to one make you look like a wolly and two put your customer off!
To practice strategic mimicry can be done in three key steps; watch, wait and wane.
Watch - Notice what the other person is doing, are they folding their arms? Crossing their legs? How are they sitting? Do they repeat a physical action, such as moving their hair, tapping their feet, waving jazz hands in the air? Alright on that last one I was just joking, but you have to admit that if you were sat in a waiting room practising this, and good Ol' jazz hands breaks out it would certainly make it more enjoyable!
Wait - When the person has completed the action, do not mimic immediately this is just as important as not mimicking every action, give it 15 seconds or so before you subtly follow their lead.
Wane - Overtime as you become more experienced at this practice try and become less conscious of the mimicking and allow it to become more natural.
Tip #3 Buoyancy
This is another tip from the Always Be Closing section of the book, and in short it is the art of keeping your self afloat amongst an ocean of rejection.
The first part of this tip is to improve your interrogative self talk. I should imagine that just like me you have had thoughts pop into your head where you think 'I am never going to sell anything' or 'My product/service is not good enough', for example writing this article I began thinking 'I am not knowledgeable enough to be writing an article like this' but I took the leap and began writing because I switched my thoughts to 'Can I improve someones selling technique by writing this', 'Can I do the author justice' and 'Can I move people to read more or selling techniques'. All these questions switched my focus from being negative to taking action, to allowing a flow of self belief that I can accomplish what I set out to do by writing the article.
The book uses a great and almost comical example of this, and the example is Bob the Builder and his slogan 'Can we fix it?', 'Yes we can!' This question forces you to find a way of fixing it if you will, which will lead to action, this in turn leads to positive thoughts.
The second part of this tip is positivity ratios. This really boils down to you remaining positive in your sales transaction, remembering to smile and be at ease with your customer heck give them a wink if the negotiation calls for it! Remaining positive will not only help you improve your sales technique it will rub off on your colleagues or your team hopefully helping to improve the atmosphere on the shop floor, making it even easier to approach and sell to customers. The flip side to this is to also believe in what you are selling, after all if you don't believe in your product or service then how can you expect your potential customer to. Please air on the side of caution though and use your positivity ratio alongside your attunement techniques, as some areas of sales calls for subtle more professional positivity for instance you wouldn't feel comfortable buying a coffin from an undertaker smiling like a Cheshire cat!
Tip #4 Clarity
This is the final tip from the 'Always Be Closing' section of the book.
The most important part that I found from this section is that less choice can lead to increased sales, as it allows the customer clarity. For example, you sell washing up liquid for a living and you stock 30 different varieties, this not only stretches your cash flow on stock, it also gives your customer too much choice and information to consume. Research has shown that whilst there is still a fine balance, less choice for a customer leads to increased sales volumes. This means that you don't have to waste your time researching and pricing thirty different washing up liquids, cut it down to say 3. Have a premium range, a middle range and a value range product, this will enable not only you to understand your products and market far clearer, but it will also enable your customer to have a clear choice.
The other additive to this is it enables the fundemental question in clarity to be used, this is 'Compared to What?', now instead of having 30 choices which is hard to strike a comparison with, you can now focus on tuning into your customer and potentially providing a product switch for them, which may increase the sales value. At worst you can explain each category compared to the other to give your customer an informed choice.
For instance say your customer regularly buys the value range, you could suggest a friendly switch to the middle range, as compared to the value range you get an additional 50 washes for an extra £0.60, this makes the cost per wash £0.02 compared to the value range wash £0.04, so if your value range was £0.80 for 20 washes, and your middle range was £1.40 for 70 washes you have just cut your customers overall wash costs in half compared to their previous purchases whilst increasing your sales revenue by 75%.
Tip #5 Serve
There is a huge miss-conception in our current economy today and that is 'up-selling'. Yes I understand that in some instances this can work, however in most cases in my opinion it leaves only one person in the transaction temporarily benefited, and that is the seller. I know this may sound backwards, and you are probably sat there thinking 'well come on John, you have been telling me how to sell this whole time, and now your telling me not to make additional sales!' My answer is, you are right it does sound backwards however when you read the book you will understand my prospective, as you want to switch from 'Up-Selling' to 'Up-Serving'.
This is the notion of switching your thinking from what can I get out of this customer, to what more can I do for this customer. Now this doesn't have to be a physical answer, although it could very well be, for example have you ever gone to your local supermarket, been stood in line with your products on the conveyor belt, wishing that for just one moment you are the yogurt on the conveyor belt, so that you could feel the excitement of sliding along and the rush of being scanned through! (Maybe that is just me, I like to liven up my grocery shopping!) and as you get passed the till, the lovely checkout person asks would you like any help with your packing? This service is free and it is not an up-sell it is an up-service. It almost makes you believe that they care and are willing to go out of their way for you, as a customer this makes you feel more valued and in turn will make you more loyal to that particular supermarket.
However as the book explains this could be in the way of signage. The author elaborates on a family trip where they were visiting a museum, and several of the family members wanted something to eat, which lead them to exploring and eventually finding a cafe where the line was all the way out the door and around the corner of the street. The author states how he believed they would be waiting forever for food and that led him to think negatively and would of resulted in him leaving the line, however he saw a sign that said 'Don't Worry, The Lines Move Really Quickly!' This meant that the author spent the short wait in a far better mood. This is a great example of up-serving, understanding the customer and seeing what more you can do for them, in this case helping to reassure and relax the customer before they have even made a purchase!
In a nutshell, obviously keep your cash flow in the back of your mind but more importantly keep your customer and their experience at the forefront of it, not only will this help with a potential sale it could also provide future sales from your customers loyalty and potential new customers by word of mouth.
What Was Your Favourite Tip? (Mine Was #4)
There you have it, my top 5 tips from 'To Sell Is Human' by Daniel H Pink. I hope you have enjoyed reading the above article and have hopefully made some notes, if not some sales! Remember that these are just short tips, the book goes into far greater detail! So, go to the library or head to amazon and get yourself a copy of the book and a coffee and build your way to a better future!
I think I have at least pointed you in the direction of answering your question on how do I sell anything? However if there is still something you are unsure off then please just bob me a message or leave a comment below.
Thanks for reading, I really appreciate it!