March 27, 2007

Critical Steps To Overcoming Sales Phobia by Susan Martin

Filed under: SE Tactics — vistab @ 12:32 am

If you’re like most business owners and self employed professionals you started a business because you have a particular talent, skill, or ability; not because you like to sell. And although some sales people do start companies, most business owners have no experience or training in sales.

Let’s face it, no-one likes hearing the word “no”. The mere mention of the word “sales” conjures up all kinds of negative images like the ubiquitous “used car salesman” or the “bait and switch tactics” that television news shows are so fond of featuring. With all of these negative images around, it’s no wonder that so many people don’t like selling.

You may be naturally shy or lack self confidence. Or perhaps you never learned how to speak about your business in a way that compels people to buy from you. Regardless of the reason, if you run a business or work for yourself you’ll find it much easier to be successful if you sharpen your sales skills and get comfortable in this role.

If the situation I’m describing rings a bell, here are some steps you can take to turn your fears into success:

1. Get clear on your market positioning. What does your company stand for in the eyes of your prospects? What makes you different? Who’s your ideal client? What “pain” or problem do your customers have that your product or service solves? Once you’re clear about the benefits and results you get for your ideal customers, it will be easy for them to realize that they should buy from you rather than the other guy.

2. Pinpoint what it is that you’re really afraid of. Sometimes it’s not the “sale” per se that we’re afraid of. Look for the reasons behind the fear, and then come up with solutions for dealing with them.

For instance, sometimes a fear will develop when you know there’s a problem with the product or service. You may have had some recent complaints, or are having trouble meeting deliveries or deadlines. It’s hard to convince people to buy if you’re worried about what you’re selling. If this is the case, be proactive! Fix the problems. Make your product or service the best it can be.

Other times a fear can stem from an emotional issue, such as fear of success or fear of failure. Often, we get in our own way with negative self-talk or beliefs we have that sabotage our efforts. If so, get in touch with these feelings and implement strategies to deal with them.

3. Use the things you don’t like about sales to form a better approach. Once you’ve figured out what you don’t like, do the opposite! If you hate being pressured to buy, develop a strategy that doesn’t use any pressure. Make a list of all of the things salespeople do that you don’t like. From there, develop strategies that don’t use these tactics.

4. Examine the styles of those who do it effortlessly. We’ve all met them, people who don’t seem to be selling at all, but know just the right things to say to get people interested in their offering. They don’t employ any of the selling behaviors that turn people off. Study them. Analyze what they’re doing. Then adapt their style to suit you.

5. Develop an authentic selling style that you feel really good about. I believe that anyone can be successful in sales as long as they feel good about themselves while doing it. You may have to think differently. Look at what’s not working with your current approach, and why. Be creative – if the words “sales” or “selling” make you cringe, call it something else!

6. Understand that selling is a numbers game. No and that no-one closes every sale. Not every prospect is a “qualified buyer” and that’s OK! It’s just a normal part of the sales process. Try thinking of it as selecting the customers that would benefit most from your offering. Naturally, in order to select the best, you’ll have to reject those that don’t fit.

Keep track of how many qualified prospects you need to speak to before closing a deal. Then, set your sales goals, multiplying the number of sales you need to close by the number of qualified prospects you’ll need to speak to in order to close each deal.

Ie: If you close about ½ of the qualified prospects you speak to; and you need to make 4 sales a month, you’ll need to be speaking to about 8 qualified prospects a month in order to make your goal.

7. Learn to look at sales rejection as an opportunity for learning. Instead of letting yourself be discouraged by a “no” use the experience as an opportunity to learn from instead. What went right? What didn’t work that can be approached differently the next time?

8. Don’t take it personally! There are lots of reasons people say no. Many of these reasons have nothing to do with you. It may be that they don’t really need what you’re offering, the timing isn’t right, or they’re busy and preoccupied with other things.

9. Pinpoint common objections, and address them. You can turn more prospects into paying customers by thinking about logical comebacks to common objections. Is your prospect is focused on “price”? Then focus on value and return on investment. This way you meet their concerns head on, instead of avoiding them.

10. Boost your self-confidence and motivation. Think about all of the wonderful results your product or service has gotten for your customers. Don’t confuse your “selling” abilities with the value customers get from buying from you. Remind yourself often about the positive benefits your customers receive. If you’re not sure, ask them what they like best about doing business with you.

11. Think out of the box: You don’t have to use pressure or become the stereotypic “used car salesman” to get customers. You can learn to close deals without using pressure, in your own way and with integrity.

12. Set realistic goals. Although setting goals is important, be careful not to set the bar so high that you can’t reach it. This only leads to discouragement. Instead, start by setting a realistic goal. Then, break it down into all of the steps you’ll need to take to get there. Get real about the time, energy, money and any other resources you’ll need to have in place in order to achieve it. Next, add a timeline and benchmarks to measure progress.

13. Consider practicing on your “safe list” first. Practicing really helps. A great way to do this is try out your presentation in a comfortable setting first. A client of mine did this recently by compiling a “safe list” of people in his industry that he knew well and felt comfortable with. He contacted them and asked if they would listen to his presentation and give him constructive feedback. This allowed him to work out the kinks and gain the confidence he needed before going out in the real world.

Want a different approach? Practice on a group of prospects you don’t know who you’ll never see again. You’ll soon learn what works!

14. Celebrate your wins! Congratulate yourself whenever you make a good presentation or feel you’ve improved, even if you haven’t closed a deal yet. It doesn’t help to be hard on yourself if it doesn’t go as well. Those who keep focused on the positives find it easier to be successful.

15. Realize that often a “no” means “not yet” or “maybe”. Find out the reasons behind a “no” by learning to ask a lot of questions. Perhaps they need more info. or they’ve got a lot on their plate right now. If they see the value, and have a need for what you offer they may be interested in the future. Make sure to get to the bottom of the no and to follow-up with them later as necessary.

16. And finally, just allow yourself to do it! Be willing to step outside your comfort zone. Psyche yourself up to try it and get out there – it really does get easier each time you do.

© 2004-2007, Susan Martin, Business Sanity.


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