4 Ways to Avoid the 'Just Friends' Speech in Sales
As the recipient of my fair share of "just friends" speeches, I can tell you for a fact that they stink. Similar to the hope of finding love in a relationship, is the expectation that a hiring manager has for a new sales representative. With hopeful expectation, a manager asks you to begin a relationship with their product by applying the same passion you showed for getting the job in the first place to your daily selling activities.
Last night I received a call from a good friend of mine, who has always been a top sales performer. Recently, he switched companies to sell a new product at a much higher rate of pay and more generous commission structure.
I'm getting appointments, he said, but I haven't had any luck closing anything so far. I asked him "so tell me about this new product that you are selling." He went on to tell me about the product and all of the benefits that his new company claims to provide. However, I did not hear the same passion in his voice that I used to hear when he was representing the previous company. So after listening to a features, advantages, and benefits monologue, I took a minute to ponder the spirit in which it was given.
And then I asked him some questions (and I recommend you ask them to yourself, I certainly have):
Do you like your product?
Do you believe in your product?
Do you love your product?
I will spare you all the details of his answers, but the salient point that came from this conversation, is that he kind of likes the new product, but doesn't really believe in it yet and he certainly does not love the product.
In today's economic climate, people who make decisions to purchase products need to have more than just information. Buyers need to feel good that they are making the right decision to benefit their organization. I won't even discuss the problem of not even liking your own product, because if you are in that position it is time to look for something else to sell. But if you do like your product, it's time to take it to the next level. Time to become someone that believes in, even loves, the product. Believing in, and loving, your product will cause you more sales success, because your belief and passion are highly transferrable. People may not remember your entire sales presentation, but they will remember the passion, or lack thereof.
Here are some ideas on how to stop being "just friends" with your product:
Become a student of your product
Pretend that you are a customer, and learn everything about your product from a customer point of view. Learn how to use the product. Call up your support team to experience your company's customer support, everything from signing up to paying an invoice. Even try to reach yourself as a representative, see if you are delighted or frustrated. Now, go embrace your company's sales training. But approach it as someone who's looking to become an expert, not just someone who is conversant. Once you learn your product from the customer's perspective, and from the provider's perspective, you are now ready to take the next step.
Become a student of your competition
In a respectful and forthright manner, immerse yourself in the knowledge and culture of your competition. Identify those who you are competing against and gain a close understanding of what difference you can provide. Know how they differ from each other, and from your product. Be prepared to speak in the language of your customers as it relates to your competition, know what words are synonymous with your company's own vernacular. Be prepared to speak always in a complimentary way to their capabilities. Never, never, never bash your competition, instead use this approach: we agree that XYZ company is good at what they do, but let me show you what our company has to offer, and how we feel this can bring you a superior value. Little else will turn a customer off faster than competition bashing. Even if they begin to bash the competition, do not participate. Instead, try to understand where their point of frustration is and offer your solution through consultative approach.
Become a student of your customer
In order to be a top performing sales executive, you must begin to think of the customer as YOUR customer. Not a company to be sold, convinced or closed, but a customer that you personally take care of with an in-depth understanding of their goals, needs and challenges. Become a student of their products, and their competition, just like you have become a student of yours. This step will change your mentality, from thinking that they are an obligation, an entry into our CRM, or a name on a spreadsheet, they will now become a lifelong customer no matter which product you are representing.
Become the voice of your customer
Once you grasp your product, understand your competition and embrace your customer, it is time to gain the edge by developing a passion for the product you are selling as it relates to your customer. Knowing that your product is the right fit for the customer, and the knowledge that you are going to be there for them no matter what, will instill a sense of confidence when you speak to a prospect. You will know that, although they don't yet know you or your product, given the opportunity sometime in the future, they will be very happy and grateful for the day that they met you. Holding yourself and your company accountable to provide the very best service to your customer will cause a bond with your most important benefactors.
Now put this all together and approach your selling activities with new vigor, realizing that you're not just going through the motions, but you are providing a superior value to help your customers remain competitive in the marketplace. What is more, they will get a lifelong friend out of the deal. Transferring knowledge about a product is difficult, and if you are able to transfer it, inspiring a desired action can be even more daunting. Infinitely more transferable is a feeling or belief. Once you believe in it, and actually feel good about what you're selling, you'll see dramatic increases in your close ratio. You'll actually be shocked when someone doesn't buy your product, not surprised when they do.
So what's not to love?