Several years ago I bought a car from this auto mechanic in Glendale. Before giving him the money, I had a shop a few blocks away check it out. Coincidentally, all the mechanics at this place knew the guy I was buying it from. “Hey, isn’t this Ray’s car? Look how clean the engine is. Looks like he went at it with a toothbrush! That Ray, what a guy.” Instead of inspecting the car, they leaned up against it and put their sodas on it while they regaled me with stories about Ray’s kids and how that one time he let them borrow his air drill.
My regular mechanic couldn’t see it for a few more days, and I was scared someone would buy it before I did if I waited, so I figured, what the hell. Ray’s a mechanic, I’m sure he took great care of it. I’d just buy it and trust that Ray was as honorable as they said he was.
Four thousand dollars of crapped out batteries, leaky radiators, leaky oil pans, leaky convertible tops, leaky power steering systems and faulty brakes later, I realized I’d been duped. (Ray’s Auto on Colorado Blvd. in
Glendale ladies and gentlemen. Throw a tomato for me next time you drive by). Ray sold me a turd of a car, but it’s my own dumb fault.
He wouldn’t look me in they eye when we sealed the deal, and I’ve gotten stronger handshakes from my half dead grandma. He was basically screaming at me not to buy his car, and although I knew in my gut that it was a bad idea, I did it anyway because you should have seen how sexy that thing looked with the top down.
I bring this story up because I’ve been doing a lot of talking about sales lately. I seem to find myself at a seminar per week these days and I’m always fascinated by how people sell, and how people react to being sold to.
”Sales” is a dirty word in our culture. It’s seen as sleazy, dishonest and out to harm. But why? Yes, there are lying, manipulative, greedy people out there who are in it only for the cash, but if you think about it, we’re all selling, all the time. To have such negative connotations around the process is not only incredibly unproductive but really unhealthy.
Whether you’re selling yourself and your book proposal to a prospective agent, selling handbags, selling your wit and charm to a first date, you are selling. Even if you don’t have a business, if you’re a stay at home mom, you’re just as selly as the rest of us. Ever try to sell your kid on the idea of taking a bath? Eating his peas instead of shoving them up his nose? Not screaming his head off on a plane? We wake up in the morning and try to sell ourselves on getting out of that warm cozy bed.
So…I suggest we not only scrape the cheese off the idea of selling and embrace it, but learn how to make it really work for us. Next time you have to sell something, keep these things in mind:
1.) You are a good person. You want to help.
Do not sell from a desperate, I gotta make some money, you gotta help me and I feel dirty about it approach, but instead think of how you can be of service. Think of why you’re selling what you’re selling, what it means to you and how happy that person will be when they buy it.
2.) Sell one thing at a time.
I recently bought a new digital camera and spent about 1/3 of my life sifting through all the choices. If someone had come along and shown me just one pristine, perfect camera with all the features I needed, I would have been so much happier (I know my cred as a smart buyer is suffering after the car thing but seriously)…a confused mind doesn’t buy. Sell one thing at a time, sell it well and you’ll do much better.
3.) Lead with your biggest benefit.
Ray saw me coming a mile away. Clearly, the biggest benefit of that car was that it looked good and the top went down. And clearly that was all I obviously wanted in a car because that’s all I got. Put your biggest benefit in your headline, in the title of your book, in your first sentence, on your business card, in front of your shop – wherever it’s most likely to be seen and heard, and it will reel your customer in.
4.) Be a person not a pod.
Always remind yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing and how you’re doing it differently from everybody else. Put a bit of yourself into it and it will be more genuine. Also, talk to your customer directly, person to person rather then lumping them into a group. People like to feel a connection and like to buy from people they trust. The more of yourself you can put into your sales pitch the better.
5.) Give details without boring them to death.
Work out a brief way to describe exactly what you do or sell so people can figure out if they want what you have to offer. The longer it takes you to get to the point, the more chance they have of pretending they have to go to the bathroom to get away from you in the middle of your pitch. The clearer you are, and the quicker you are, the easier it will be for them to buy from you.
If you’re too caught up in not wanting to be “salesy”, you’ll never put yourself out there and the people who could benefit from your products and services will never reap the benefits. And where’s the fun in that?