Years ago, I worked with a sales rep who had a great personality and a real knack for building relationships--outside of sales calls. As soon as he got in front of a prospect, his whole demeanor changed. He became a robot, spitting out the sales pitch he had memorized and virtually shutting out the customer. The guy with the great personality disappeared, and the salesperson showed up in his place.
Sure, customers want you to know your business. They expect you to have the facts at your fingertips. They need you to be thinking all the time. But what they really want is to make a connection. It can't be said too many times that people buy from people they like, trust and respect. If you use just your brain on a sales call, and not your heart, you'll be like every other Tom, Dick and Sally, working as hard as you can and making very few sales.
Here are four ways to use both your mind and heart to make your sales sing:
1. Prepare. This is the "just the facts" part of the sale. Do your research. Gather as much knowledge as you can about the person you're selling to, the company he or she works for and that company's customers. Make sure you're armed with information about your own product or service as well.
2. Build a structure. Set goals, and outline how you would like the sale to go. This is not a script that you follow, but rather a general idea of the direction you want to pursue. Any event, whether it's a one-on-one sales call or a presentation to a large group, is only as strong as its structure. If there is no foundation, a single question or comment can throw you completely off track. Having a structure allows you (or the customer) to go off on a tangent but then find your way back quickly and efficiently.
3. Let go. Once you have the structure established, let it go. I've talked before about mushin, the martial arts concept that means "no mind." When you have really practiced a martial art, you don't have to think about every move you make. Your strength and agility are based on your previous training. In a sales call, you've got to rely on your training as well. It becomes easy to go with the flow, instead of following a rigid script, when you have experience and have done all the research. When you learn to trust your instincts, you can allow yourself to react naturally and believe in your abilities.
4. Sell from your true, passionate heart. Customers want to deal with the real you. They want to believe in both you and your product or service; they want to know that buying from you is the right choice. When you're passionate and enthusiastic, you spread those emotions directly to the customer. I deal with high-level customers every day--from sports legends and famous comedians to CEOs of billion-dollar corporations. People in those positions don't buy because a salesperson has the most polished presentation. They want to cut through all the layers and make a connection. They want to see inside you, not right through you. When they can see your true spirit and tell you're on the same level, they can be confident you have their best interests at heart.
As Shakespeare wrote, "This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man." Follow the four steps outlined above, and you have the perfect formula for a successful sales call.