You’ve heard it over and over: The best salesmen are the ones who can make sales without ever making customers feel like they are being sold. But how do you pull it off?
The soft sell is easier said than done. It requires you to not only know your stuff, but your prospect’s stuff as well. The secret to the soft sell might surprise you because it's something not often associated with sales guys: authenticity.
Sales guys get a bad rap for being full of it -- a rap we don't deserve. The best sales guys I know didn't get where they are by lying through their teeth. They got there by developing genuine relationships with their prospects and customers and relating to them on a personal level.
So what's the first step to getting big deals? You guessed it: Stop sounding like a sales guy.
Here are four things salespeople say that make me want to sound the time out buzzer:
4 Sales Phrases That Make You Sound Slimy
1) "Honestly, Jane...."
This phrase always seems to crop up toward the end of a good conversation, which is the absolute worst time it should be said. If you don’t come clean with your opinion or disclose relevant information until the end of a call, you might as well kiss trust goodbye. This tactic is often used by sales guys who underestimate how much their prospect really knows. If you use this on a quality prospect, you'll just end up insulting him or her.
2) "We can increase [metric/performance] by X%."
Can you really? And where are your numbers coming from? The team statistician?
Buyers are don't want to hear false statistics. A lot of sales guys think shooting off bogus percentage numbers makes the pitch meatier, but they're most often meaningless. It sends up red flags, and it just sounds like BS. If you want to point to real results, leverage case studies instead.
3) "Do you have 90 seconds to talk about X?"
I know it’s hard to pick up the phone and call someone you've never spoken to before, but come up with a better ask. Be direct, say who you are, try to establish value, and just start talking.
You wouldn’t call your friends and say, "Do you have 90 seconds to talk about going to a movie?" Be human with your prospects and you’re more likely to see better results.
4) "What are the primary business challenges you’re facing?"
You might as well ask me how much money I have in the bank. Be prepared for an evasive answer, because prospects probably think it's none of your business!
A prospect, especially one you don't know well, might naturally be hesitant to expose all of their company’s pain points to someone who they don't trust yet. A better option is to discuss some problems that you've solved for other similar companies as a starting point.
There's something you have to do before all this can click. It's simple:
Stop Swimming in the Sales Fishbowl
If you want to stop talking like a salesperson, you need to quit immersing yourself in the world of sales. It's so easy to swim around in the same little fishbowl with other salespeople, constantly looking in the mirror and affirming one another’s behavior. The only thing that will get you is learning how to impress other salespeople.
Instead, focus on being a genuine person and speak the customer’s language. Focus on understanding your prospects and really getting to know them then stay on top of your relationships with sales tools like Spiro.
Don’t ask your prospects questions just so you can get closer to the sale. Ask your prospects questions because you are genuinely interested. Stay in touch by sending an email about something that interests them personally or might be relevant to their company or industry, even news about events happening in their region.
When you show genuine interest in someone else, you will begin to sound like a real person -- not a salesperson.
Deploy Simple Psychological Techniques
Sales is all about psychology. We shouldn’t be emotional bullies beating people over the head with the hard sale. We should be working as their friends. And trust me, in the long term, you get a lot more sales with honey than with vinegar.
In the ideal sales relationship, the prospect or customer looks at you as a trusted source of information. They’re looking for a person with the solutions that are a perfect fit for them, the one who knows their needs as well as, or better, than they do. People are more inclined to scratch your back if you scratch theirs.
This is the new era of sales. When our prospects see us as resources and not as bobble-headed sales guys, we all win.
Originally published Mar 31, 2016 7:30:00 AM, updated July 28 2017