Back in the day, selling was important. Sales were important. It was not uncommon to finish school and get a sales job. In fact there was even a popular book, movie, and television show called “Death of a Salesman” featuring Willy Loman, a salesman living in New York City during the late 1940’s which won the Pulitzer prize, Emmys, etc.
But what is sales anyway?
The definition of sales is “the act of selling; specifically: the transfer of ownership of and title to property from one person to another for a price.” The term “to sell” can sometimes be thought synonymous with “to convince” or “to persuade.”
Why would it be necessary to convince or persuade? If someone really wants or needs what you have to offer, it doesn’t seem that there should be much convincing or persuading involved.
Instead, sales could be the act of leading a conversation about what a problem is and what the solution could be. Or even describing what the product or service is, and letting that be that. Take it or leave it; let them decide.
These days “selling” isn’t as important as “sharing.” This generation is quick to distinguish between genuine motives and ulterior motives. Sharing information is becoming more and more valuable, and also crucial for survival. Social media channels are completely built around this core premise of the value in sharing information.
How to Sell a Product or Service now:
The more you listen, the more you learn. So at a minimum it’s polite and at a maximum you are growing. This is a win-win. People will tell you what you need to know if you just ask and then fully wait for them to respond. Feel free to leave silences too; not everyone processes or communicates at the same rate.
- ADDRESS THE PROBLEM
This is why listening is so helpful. If that step isn’t done first you may begin addressing a problem they don’t even have. At that point you will lose credibility with your audience and they will see you as someone who doesn’t really know them, their goals, or even their business/ministry.
- OFFER A SOLUTION
Rather than thinking about your product or service, and how great it is, offer a solution to their problem. This solution may or may not include your problem or service. That’s why it’s sharing not selling; you are not trying to make a sale but rather to share all information you have available to help solve their problem. Going into business together is just icing on the cake at that point.
This again? Yes. Because you’ve just addressed their problem and now you need their feedback. It’s possible you missed the mark or didn’t address it correctly, or it’s possible they want to provide feedback to what you said. It’s respectful and also wise to give them that opportunity.
- LET THEM DECIDE
Pretty simple. You’ve had a conversation and now they have the information they need in order to make a decision. Offer to provide more information or meet again if they would like, but draw the boundary when it comes to giving away your service for free (unless led) or handing out lots of samples. This may devalue your product or service in their eyes; just give them time to decide.
Math majors out there are realizing that 40% of the “sales” process is listening.
So it’s not really selling at that point; almost half of the time you aren’t even talking. And the other half you are specifically addressing what the other person wants to talk about not what you want to talk about. You are instead sharing information that is important to them.
So the next time you want to sell a product or service, just listen. This will help you know your audience, and tell them how great that product or service is and how it addresses their problem.
After that, they can decide.