Selling is a Science Not an Art

Mention the word selling and many people in business run a mile in the opposite direction.  Sure, on a rational level business people will acknowledge that “sales is the lifeblood of the business”, and that “without sales there is no business”.  But call them a “salesperson” and they’ll look at you as though you’ve insulted them.

In our seminars we ask people what their beliefs about sales people are.  What we get back are comments like “pushy, hard sell, sleazy, liars, product pushers” etc.

What is selling really?

I’d like to suggest to you that selling is “professionally helping other people to buy”.  Now let’s break that definition down.

            A “professional” is “a person who is expert at his or her work”.

“Helping people to buy” – everyone likes buying things, nobody likes being sold.

So, when was the last time a salesperson expertly helped you to buy?

Imagine you’re in the market for a home theatre system.  What happens when you go to your local retailer?  Is it likely that you’ll be taken through as systematic process to help discover your specific needs?  No, most likely you’ll be asked one or two quick questions and then have a mind-boggling range of products shoved down your throat.  You’ll be barraged with features like “watts per channel output, pixels, lines or resolution, digital cinema auto calibration, dynamic bass” and of course “AV sync”.  Features that do nothing but confuse all but the “tech heads” among us.

Are the sales people deliberately trying to confuse us?  No, it just that they’ve never been taught how to professionally help you to buy.

Now imagine the same scenario but with a sales person who has been taught a “sales process”, a sales person who is professional. 

You meet the sales person and say something like “I’m looking for a home theatre system”. 

She replies with “That’s great, my name is Julie Seller and yours is______?”. 

You answer, “Joe Buyer”. 

Julie says, “Good to meet you Joe.  We’ve created a simple process for finding out exactly what your specific needs are, so that we can help you best.  The process takes about 11 minutes.  It involves me asking you some simple questions about your home, the type of movies and music you like and the entertaining you like to do.  Then, based on what you tell me I’ll explain the types of features you’ll need in a system. Then I’ll be informed enough to show you two or three systems, at different price ranges, that will suit your needs.  Is it ok if we go about things this way?”.

You pick yourself up from the floor, dust yourself off, then say “that would be great”.