In an earlier blog, I discussed marketing. This one considers sales. Not everyone agrees, but these methods have worked for me.
Traditional sales calls tend to focus on features and benefits. You begin to list all your services, qualifications, training, ethical standards, professional associations, etc. Guess what? Usually, they don’t really care. You might bludgeon them with too much information and sabotage your chance at landing the job.
For instance, have you ever home shopped with a realtor? You inform him about what you want and don’t want. You talk about schools and neighborhoods; maybe even your preferred neighborhood. After all that, you realize that he’s showing you something completely different! How frustrating is that! He tries to sell you on all the fantastic features of a home you just don’t want. You become upset because he didn’t listen to a word you said. Although you know the realtor is knowledgeable, he thinks he knows what’s best for you. My guess is that the next time your house hunt will involve another realtor.
Let me introduce you to Len Fletcher, the realtor that sold me my house. He asked me lots of questions, including why on many occasions in order to understand us better. He took his time and listened carefully. Later, he informed me that there were only 3 houses that fit all my criteria. It turned out that the very first house he showed me was the one we purchased. We immediately fell in love with it, for it was perfect for us!
This is a pet peeve of mine; please stop rattling off all your features and benefits before even knowing what the client wants or needs. What would you think of a doctor who writes a prescription before administering a thorough examination? I know I wouldn’t want a doctor like that!
Instead, try this approach. Ask the potential client questions, not only what they need, but why. Ask them painful questions. Find out what is frustrating them, what problems are they having, how is it affecting them, what is keeping them awake at night. Now, here’s the hard part. After you have a complete picture of what pains them, you can begin to prescribe a solution for that problem. For problem A, you have solution A. For issue B, you have remedy B. For problem C, you have solution C. Keep it simple. It matters little what school you attended, to what association you belong, or the details of your ethical code. What they care about is their pain and how to alleviate it. They don’t care about you!
The moment that the potential client sees that you recognize his or her needs and can provide a solution, that person is sold. The more you talk and add on all kinds of irrelevant information, the longer your rope becomes, and you scare them away by hanging yourself.
There is so much that I can write about the sales process in our industry. If you are interested in reading a blog on that subject, please let me know. In this series, my goal was to clarify the difference between marketing and sales. Tribe building, networking, and social media are all marketing, they call attention to you. Once you establish that, it’s up to you to transition or leverage those relationships into real sales calls. It’s up to you to identify your potential clients’ needs and close the deal. Don’t wait for another colleague to snag it.
I hope this blog series has given you useful ideas and principles that you can use to grow your clientele.