How To Sell Better Than Anyone Else
A five-step guide for entrepreneurs, small businesses, and salespeople who want to set themselves apart from the rest
The first “Sales 101” rule is to determine the customers’ needs before you start telling them how fabulous your product/service is.
Unfortunately, most salespeople miss this important step and start selling a prospective client by telling them anything and everything about their product/service, without asking key questions first (also called “feature dumping.”)
This is not an effective sales strategy, nor does it lead to long-term repeat customers.
What makes customers buy? Customers buy because of their emotional and strategic needs, not because a salesperson has convinced them to make a purchase.
If you want to set yourself apart from the competition, regardless of industry, and increase your sales, use these five steps in your sales process. You don’t have to be a salesperson to do this either — you can be a small business owner, entrepreneur, artist, or anyone who wants to sell a product or service.
STEP ONE: Develop a Relationship With the Customer
You’d be surprised how many people miss this one, yet it’s the foundation of every good customer relationship.
A customer is a living, breathing person, with a life. Take the time to get to know them a little from the very beginning, if possible. Be real about yourself, but don’t talk about yourself too much — ask them questions.
People love to talk about themselves — your job is to ask, listen, and connect. This is not an overnight or one-conversation step. Don’t be transactional and just talk about the sale. Continue building this relationship every step of the way — even after the customer has purchased.
That customer could be your biggest ally, repeat customer, and referral-generator.
STEP TWO: Determine The Customer’s Strategic Level Needs
A strategic level need is the real reason a customer is buying and takes some prodding to uncover.
This can be determined by asking questions about what the purpose of their purchase is for.
For example, if someone is purchasing a car, you could ask what are they going to use it for — specifically. Are they going to use it to take their kids to school, commute to work, or drag race on the weekends? All these points are entry points into learning more about them. Say they answer “I’m going to use it to drag race on the weekends.”
You could respond by saying, “That’s interesting — tell me more about that!” and learn a whole lot about them and what’s important to them. You learn that they just took up drag racing as a new hobby because they are totally burned out at work and need something to re-energize them on the weekends. Drag racing makes them feel alive, adventurous, and in control, and that helps them deal with their burnout.
THIS is their underlying, strategic need — they need an outlet for burnout.
STEP THREE: Determine The Customer’s Emotional/Personal Level Needs
Think of emotional and personal needs as “what’s in it for them.”
Typically the customer won’t outright tell you what their personal need is (they may not even be aware of what it is), so it’s up to you to understand what that might be.
In our drag racing example, you discovered what’s important about drag racing, and why. A personal need is to feel alive, adventurous, in control, and happy. Notice they did not say “happy” but you can assume this from what they are describing.
STEP FOUR: Determine Their Product/Service Needs
This is the nuts and bolts of what the customer wants to purchase. It’s the details of the product or service.
This is the step that the majority of people will jump to first, before learning the strategic and emotional/personal needs.
By skipping the first two steps, you’ll miss key selling points because you haven’t really learned what their deeper needs are. It’s a “throw spaghetti at the wall and see what sticks” approach. Sometimes it works, but it will take a lot of spaghetti before you make a sale.
Save this step for the end, and then when the customer tells you that they want a red car with a black interior, with a V8 engine and Sirius radio, you’ll understand why and will be able to provide a much more accurate solution.
STEP FIVE: Describe How Your Product/Service Will Help Meet These Needs
This is where you tie everything you’ve learned about what the customer needs together.
Now you get to talk about the fabulous product or service you have to solve these needs for the client.
However, it’s important that you talk only about the benefits and features of your product or service that specifically meet their needs. Again, don’t “feature dump” and tell them about additional products and services that they don’t need, just because you have them.
You are personalizing this pitch specifically to their needs, so they feel seen, heard, and understood.
These five steps should culminate in a written proposal or verbal/digital presentation.
You’ll begin by stating their strategic, personal, and product/service-related needs, and exactly how you are proposing to meet them with your product/service.
At this stage, there shouldn’t be too many surprises or objections to your proposal, because you’ve learned all about their needs. If there are, it’s ok. Determine which type of need it is (strategic, personal, or product/service level) and address how you’ll meet this need.
The only thing left is to ask for their business. One of my favorite closing questions is, “Is there any reason why you wouldn’t choose (us, product, service, company, etc)?”
It takes some practice using these steps, but once you begin to master them, it will change your life.
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