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To sell or not to sell

To sell or not to sell

That is the question (sorry I couldn’t resist) but moving swiftly on from spurious Shakespearean references this really is the question that I am encountering more and more at the moment, I regularly hear things along the lines of “people don’t want to be sold to so what do I do to make a sale?".

This isn’t new but what’s troubling is the frequency I am now coming across this and it isn’t surprising either, we live in a world where according to our own research *53% of sales teams in the UK failed to achieve their sales targets in 2019 (*Source Think Selling Sales Industry Survey 2019) (data to be released March 2020), this paralysis that is gripping elements of the sales industry is breading a style of selling that is reactive and pedestrian that unsurprisingly is leading to an alarming increase in the number of sales teams missing their targets and it appears that a major cause is that sales teams are not taking enough proactive action to make sales happen, as Pablo Picasso once said “Action is the foundational key to all success".

The reason I don’t find this situation particularly surprising is that sales people today are being exposed to, no in fact bombarded with more messages and influences than ever before denouncing a raft of sales and selling practices that are still effective and still relevant in favour of inbound marketing approaches or exclusively adopting a social selling approach to making sales.

Now before your read on just think for a moment (and here is the irony) what are these technology providers and platforms doing by flooding these messages at sales people?

They’re selling, they’re selling a message, a concept a way of selling that persuades sales people to adopt their platform their app etc, now before I start receiving hate mail from these platforms, let me make it clear I am not against this way of selling, far from it, these approaches like so many approaches and routes to market have a valid place within your sales and marketing armoury but no two buyers are alike and different people will engage with different approaches, the teams I have worked with over the past few years have seen that there is a huge benefit to using multiple approaches to engage with buyers but there has to be an end product, some form of meaningful dialogue that creates a sales conversation not just sharing content and these tools can be hugely useful when used as part of a broader selling strategy.

There are a few key points that I wanted to get across within this article, my first point is this, we sometimes forget an important point that everyone sells, we all sell something most days if not every day and not just in business of course businesses sell to us all the time through advertising and marketing, but in so many areas of life people sell and if we didn’t the world would be a very different place, people sell all manner of things, we sell ourselves whether it is in a job interview, at work to the boss or if we are on a date we are selling ourselves, we sell our ideas and preferences to our friends, our family to our partners or colleagues and anyone that has kids will know that kids are some of the greatest adopters of selling techniques in the world constantly selling, closing and negotiating to get what they want.

The second point is that most buyers aren’t necessarily resistant to being sold to, they are more likely to be resistant to how they are being sold to or what they are being sold if it isn’t relevant or if they feel it’s just a blind pitch, the good news is that we can eliminate or at least reduce that resistance by ensuring that what we are selling is relevant to that buyer and we have carried out enough research to find some potential and relevance before we sell.

The key thing to keep in mind is that buyers need to and want to buy products, services, solutions, answers to their problems so rather than looking at this as selling, change our mind-set from selling to “helping customers to buy”

The final and probably the most important point I want to get across is the we sometimes lose sight of the importance of the human element in selling, ultimately people buy from people and those of you that have been on one of my seminars will know that I describe sales or selling as the human intervention within a buying process so never underestimate the value and importance we bring to a selling situation.

The reality is that selling is what we get paid to do, to overcome that barrier we need to stop letting our assumptions drive our decisions, everyone has something to sell, buyers will entertain us if we have something relevant to discuss with them and to draw upon something I was told many times when I was starting out in sales, nothing happens until somebody sells something!

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