For the first few years of my adventures in solopreneurship, I told friends and colleagues that I’m not good at sales. I would explain that my expertise is in marketing and communications, but not sales. Guess what, I was wrong. I had to be.
I had always thought of sales in the worst possible way. I envisioned the cheesy, pushy, used-car sales guy. Or the uppity, asshat in business class on his second cocktail before takeoff.
One day, it dawned on me that if I run my own business and I am not good at sales, I’m in big trouble. If I am my only employee, I had better be damned great at sales or my family will suffer.
Spoiler alert: You don’t have to be a jerk to excel in sales.
I went out on my own as a consultant and professional trainer and speaker in 2011. I’m happy to report that I have increased my earnings each year. I have become more knowledgable in how best to approach sales, but I don’t consider myself an expert.
One true sales expert I personally know is Ian Altman, co-author (along with Jack Quarles) of Same Side Selling: How Integrity and Collaboration Drive Extraordinary Results for Sellers and Buyers. I absolutely loved the lessons and approach to sales taught in their excellent book. Spoiler alert: You don’t have to be a jerk to excel in sales.
In this short blog post, I’m going to share some key takeaways directly from Same Side Selling. There is much more within the book that you should not miss. Pick up a copy.
Same Side Selling Takeaways
There is an adversarial trap that causes buyers and sellers to work against each other instead of collaborating. Replace this trap with a cooperative, collaborative mindset.
Selling is not a game because in a game one side wins and the other loses.
Selling is a puzzle. With a puzzle, you are solving. You create something and over time provide value. People sit on the same side to determine if the pieces fit. It’s better to solve puzzles than play games.
Same side selling is about finding the fit. FIT. Finding Impact Together.
The objective is to be seen as a solver instead of a seller.
Answer the questions:
Whom do you help?
What do you do to help them?
Why do they need your help?
The most successful pitch will resonate with the prospect’s pain.
Find people who not only face problems you can solve, but also recognize those problems and believe they are worth solving.
Focus on the challenges that your client is facing, rather than on the things you are selling.
Entice. Disarm. Discover.
Entice. Entice the customer by identifying something you have that might be of interest.
Disarm. Make it clear that you are not there to sell, but want merely to see if there is a fit.
Discover. Trigger a discovery phase in which you learn about them (instead of opening a meeting talking about your stuff).
The truth is always your ally in same side selling, even when it seems to decrease the likeliness of making a sale.
Ask who else is affected by this project? How can we engage them in a way that works for you?
Don’t start with your qualifications. Start with the buyer’s problem
Gracefully guide the conversation away from details and toward impact.
It is not the client’s job to see the big picture.
If your price is too high don’t discount. Rather expand the scope to create more value.
What do you think?
How do you handle sales? Are you an expert or a novice? What sales lessons have you learned over the years?