It's been said that working in sales is hard, no matter how good you are or how great your product or service is. But why is it so difficult, exactly?
The truth is that in a world of information overload, consumer attention spans are becoming less and less engaged towards any one specific thing because it is a biological reality that our brains can only hold so much information before becoming fatigued. Whereas before smartphones became big, people had an average attention span of around 12 seconds. That number has since dropped to about eight seconds, and the bombardment of texts, tweets, pop-ups, posts and product endorsements is to blame. We've all been burned by bad experiences with scam products and slimy salesmen, so our reluctance to listen to any one particular promotion or person is at an all-time high.
With the advent of the Internet we are now more connected than ever, but this same seemingly limitless freedom to share information and ideas has made us all a little more cautious to take anything at face value. "Everyone is trying to sell me something; in most cases I don't want or need it, so I'll just automatically ignore every chance to pitch me to save time" is an attitude that many of us adopt, sometimes without even realizing it. Complicating matters further is the fact that it's easier than ever before to ignore intrusive advertising.
Commercial come on the radio? Just change to a different station or pay the premium for no ads. Too many ads on the Internet? Just use Adblock. Getting robo called? Just hang up the phone and block the number. In real life, unless a salesperson is able to capture a customer's attention instantly and effectively, the sale is lost at hello.
So how does one overcome this wall that most consumers today have built? If you wish to make an impact in an ocean of endless choices and options, you'll need to master these three critical skills to effectively connect with others. The crucial skills every good salesman needs to adopt are: maintaining an attitude of gratitude, aiming to serve and create value instead of just sell, and aligning actions to words. Without these few vital aspects, you might be able to close on occasion, but a fraction of your possibility.
It isn't always easy, but having an attitude of gratitude and remaining positive is crucial when attempting to attract and connect with potential customers. Most people can't help but feel better about things when they're in the presence of someone who seems happy, appropriately upbeat and confident, and also appears grateful and hungry for the opportunity to talk to the customer in the first place. But if you allow outside frustrations from life or past missed transactions affect your attitude, it will have the opposite effect on attracting and closing your next potential customer.
You must treat every new interaction as a fresh chance to close the sale without letting whatever happened earlier to cloud your performance. You must learn to not take anything in business personally and roll with the proverbial punches because the longer you wallow in defeat, the more sales you will miss, ensuring a negative, repeating cycle. You will start to lose motivation if you overthink the end result, making for even more
missed opportunities. It's better to learn from your previous attempts, adapt if necessary and press on with confidence and a smile. Confidence is your superpower, and fuels your ability to sell your product or service.
The second key element is to approach the customer with the purpose to serve them and their needs instead of merely thinking about the sale. If you approach the relationship from a position to improve their life and genuinely focus on solving a problem of theirs or fulfilling their truest desire, you are much more likely to attract their attention than trying to force your product on them – although a sense of urgency is still important. You cannot go into the approach with the belief that "X is so great, if only the customer will give me the time of day and hear me out" or "I really need this sale, so I'm going to hit them with a bunch of enticing facts and figures they'd be crazy to refuse!".
Always aim to help them first by being curious and gathering the needed info to do so, even if that sometimes means losing the sale. A customer is a lot more likely to listen to what you have to say if you treat them like a friend first. If you begin your approach by striving to connect on a personal level, their guard naturally becomes lowered. It shows you view them as a person and not just as a number in a spreadsheet. If you do them the courtesy of providing some helpful advice or a pleasing anecdote, they're much more willing to do you the courtesy of being receptive to whatever you are offering them.
You need to engage in caring communication that serves a dual purpose – to both relate to and learn about the customer. Pay attention to the micro cues they are giving you via body language or facial expressions; encourage skepticism and surprise them, but don't over-explain; respect all parties involved (NOT just the decision maker); and allow the customer to talk as much, or ideally, more than you do, as people always appreciate being given the spotlight to talk about themselves. They'll automatically feel more valued and understood if you do the listening and let THEM do the talking. Strive for a 2:1 ratio of providing information and requesting feedback, and remember: love your customer more than your product.
The third and final essential aspect to engaging your customers is to ensure your actions align with your words. If a customer suspects you're lying to them or being otherwise unauthentic, they're not going to feel safe placing their trust in the rest of what you have to say. Today, people have a sensitive “fakedar” that can stop a fraud instantly.
I’m not saying to withhold using psychological principles like; priming, anchoring, reciprocity, urgency, and scarcity but you must be careful not to omit important material information or embellish your claims. If you tell the customer you're the only option to consider and then give rational reasoning to justify, it won’t work today because people believe there are endless choices to consider. Instead of focusing on the core values of the product or service, re-frame their thinking to focus on the reality that if you cannot help them overcome their concerns during your presentation, additional time will not bring them closer to owning the product. You must be willing to let the sale go to close more sales. You know the percentage of transaction after the fact pail in comparison to those in your presence. Always give your best in the presence of your customers.
In summary, selling is simple, but not easy. Capturing the attention of consumers in a world of shrinking attention spans and limited free time has become more challenging. To become the exception, you'll need to incorporate the traits that show you care about the person, and not just your bottom line