by Ron Stein
Updated 8 months ago
When it comes to selling, most business owners and entrepreneurs feel anxious and unprepared. Anything that smacks of selling stresses them out.
Yet, if you can’t sell, if you can’t persuade, you’ll struggle to grow your company. The good news is with a simple and effective step-by-step process to follow, you’ll spend less time selling and get better results with less stress.
We fear selling because we can’t shake the image of a fast-talking, manipulative hustler with a big, phony smile. Fear of appearing pushy, maybe a little obnoxious holds us back. Who wants that!
Then there’s the fear of the unknown. Not knowing what to say or worse, the fear of rejection.
If selling seems scary to you, you’re not alone. Here’s what’s really scary – not making payroll or almost as bad, cancelling the sushi chef you bring in every Friday to make lunch for the team.
The truth is we all sell. It’s something we learned to do as kids; “Mom and dad, I know you work really hard to buy me expensive stuff. This is really great, thank you. Can I have a MacBook Pro to help me in school and make you proud?”
Selling is a great skill to have for inspiring others to take positive actions – your kids, the people you work with, your banker, your mother-in-law, and of course customers too.
Selling, prospecting, and objections aren’t dirty words. It’s not hard to do once you have a selling process to follow. Getting the first few steps of the process right is crucial. Because when you do, the odds of closing more sales, faster increase dramatically.
Marketing with a selling perspective. The best marketers know how to sell. The first step is to go after a well targeted market with a concise and compelling message that positions your business to solve the pain. But, hunting the best matches for your product or service only brings in pre-qualified potential buyers into the top of the marketing funnel. In order for the funnel to feed the sales pipeline with the best possible leads you must quickly eliminate the 50% or so that have a very low chance of buying. At the opposite end are the people that need, want, and can afford your offering, who also have some urgency because they have identified a big problem that needs solving now. Break your funnel leads into (1) ready to act, (2) no rush to act, (3) pretenders, and (4) no interest. No matter how great your targeting is, these four categories will end up in your funnel. Don’t waste your time. Identify and remove the pretenders and the people with no interest as amiably and quickly as possible.
Gather information and qualify. Selling is the activity of turning leads and prospects into lifelong customers. Even the most targeted inbound marketing and outbound prospecting unsurprisingly is not perfect. Your job is to deal only with solid potential leads. Put your focus on people ready to act and those that otherwise meet category one criteria, except their pain threshold hasn’t been reached yet. But how? As leads enter the funnel over communicate with great questions to make this happen. Questioning is both art and science, but a great framework to work from is BANTP: Budget, Authority, Need, Timeframe, and Priority. “P” also stands for pain or problem. You can build a script, email string, or lead magnet around BANTP to ask relevant questions. Early in the selling process collect pertinent “evidence” that they have a problem you can solve, a pain that has reached a “must have” threshold, the money and ability to purchase, and it is a priority to solve it now. Get the answers that check your boxes and life will be easier.
Build rapport and establish your expertise. The next step is to take control of the conversation. But, not in a pushy and obnoxious way. The temptation by most buyers is to ask questions about your offering, what features it has, and how much it’ll cost as soon as they can. Early in the selling process you don’t want to be pushed into going “off script” and presenting your offering before you establish expertise, trust, and rapport. Aside from qualifying the lead, you want to understand the depth of the problem and create confidence as a trusted advisor. The right questions can do this. Show authentic empathy because you understand and know how the issue is affecting the buyer. When you probe in this way and uncover the root cause of the pain, the lead will absolutely feel that you are an expert and your product or service can help them. Plus, you’re building a relationship while addressing and eliminating potential objections.
These are only the first phases of a carefully refined and practiced step-by-step selling process. Yet, these early slices of strategy and techniques set a solid foundation to help you eliminate the uncertainty of selling your product or service.
As a result, you’ll spend far less time trying to close deals and overcome objections, and have more fun helping all of your new customers solve their problems. Your anxiety level will come way down and you’ll become a fearless seller of solutions to your buyer’s problems.
Read earlier columns from Florida Trend's sales and marketing coach, Ron Stein.
Ron is the founder of FastPath Marketing and More Customers Academy. He works with tech-enabled companies, helping them find the fastest path to revenue with executive advising, business development coaching and consulting, as well as marketing and selling training. As an accomplished tech industry business leader and entrepreneur, Ron has served in top-level sales, marketing and business development roles ranging from emerging companies to global tech giants, including as the CEO of a venture-backed wireless startup. Ron is on the advisory board of the University of Florida’s two internationally recognized tech business incubators and writes a popular column on how to grow revenue in the award-winning Florida Trend business magazine. Learn more at www.FastPathMarketing.com. Ron can be reached at 727-642-4246 or by email.