[Authored by: Kim Hoogeveen, PhD]
There are a LOT of books, blogs, and online training options that purport to help improve one’s ability to sell by focusing on sales best practices – and many of them are darn good. Many specify time-tested tactics and techniques that will lead to better sales performance, and they are well worth learning.
What MindSet is offering here is a level above tactics. Here we share a few high-level insights that will absolutely help you become more successful at sales.
Sales Best Practice: Your Must Differentiate
Differentiating your product or service is a critical first step. If you haven’t put in the intellectual rigor to clearly and concisely make the case for why your product or service differs from the competition in meaningful ways, start there. Without key differentiators, the sales process becomes more challenging.
Sales Best Practice: Two Magical Questions
People will say yes to your sales pitch when they come to believe that something will be DIFFERENT after they say yes to you. And what is it that they want to be different? There are two good answers to this question, and you need to succinctly and assertively answer at least one of these two questions in your sales pitch:
1) Will your product or service help me live a better life?
2) Will your product or service result in me having more money?
It really is that SIMPLE.
If you can make someone believe your product or service will help them live a better or more enjoyable life, you’ll probably make the sale. Similarly, if someone believes your product or service will help them either make or save money, they are probably going to buy.
If your product or service does both – makes or saves money and leads to a better life – you have a chance to crush it in sales. And your company has a chance to become a behemoth.
Companies That Do Both
Think of Companies that have disrupted and/or dominate their industry:
- Does Amazon make our day-to-day lives better and more enjoyable? Easy ordering – just ask Alexa to do it or use a Dash Button to instantly reorder your favorite products. Get dog food (and everything else) promptly delivered to your doorstep. Amazon also makes it easy to find what would otherwise be hard to find items. They even give you access to millions of songs, movies, and shows to enjoy from anywhere. So check factor 1.
- Does Amazon convince us that they are saving us money? Do they deliver a lot of content on Amazon Prime that would be more costly to get other ways? Can you easily compare prices? Is free delivery something you appreciate with every order? Simple returns and exceptional customer service when items don’t live up to our expectations? Did we appreciate no sales tax as long as it lasted? Absolutely – and all those factors lead customers to believe they will have more money left in their pocket when they deal with Amazon. So check factor 2.
- Uber – great convenience and saves me money.
- Netflix – great entertainment and saves me money.
- Airbnb – great experience and saves me money.
We want to make it clear, though. You don’t have to help people live a better life and help them have more money to make sales and have a great business. If you can do one of two, you can still sell like crazy.
Companies that Just Improve Your Life
There are many companies that have differentiated themselves by helping people live a better life, and it has led to incredibly successful companies. So don’t worry if you’re selling something that helps people live a better life, even at a pricey penny. People will be happy to pay for it.
- Enjoyable life? Heck yeah! Their mission statement says it better than we would.The mission of The Walt Disney Company is to entertain, inform and inspire people around the globe through the power of unparalleled storytelling, reflecting the iconic brands, creative minds and innovative technologies that make ours the world’s premier entertainment company.
- Save money? Heck no! Have you ever talked to someone who returned from a Disney vacation with more money in their pocket? Not a chance. Nor will they describe it as a bargain. Yet almost every adult plans to take their children to a Disney park at some point in their lifetime.
Other Companies that Improve Your Life
- Apple – Is there a price point their loyal customer base won’t pay?
- Marriott – You could easily save money by staying at a Motel 6 instead.
- Peloton – Have you heard of tennis shoes, sweatpants, and the open road?
Companies that Just Save You Money
- Geico – We all know the little gecko and the 15% savings tagline.
- Southwest Airlines – You may miss a frill or two, but their lower fares broke the old system.
- Vanguard – This investment giant grew by lowering fees.
Perhaps you are thinking this insight is a bit too simple. Maybe, but I would counter that many otherwise smart people are terrible at sales, and one big reason is they don’t understand this insight.
Consider law firms. We had the chance to ask a room full of bright attorneys who were all partners of a law firm why a prospective client should use their firm. After a bit of awkward silence, the responses we got were: 1) we have really good attorneys, 2) we care about our clients, and 3) we work really hard. Umm, exactly how is this differentiating them from any other firm in the city? Do other firms say 1) our attorneys are lousy, 2) we don’t care two whits about our clients, and 3) we are lazy? They just don’t grasp the insight we are sharing. On top of that they had zero, zip, nada when it came to how doing business with them over another firm would result in more money in my pocket or a more enjoyable life…well, beyond they did offer me a bottle of water when I came in for the meeting, but I suspect other firms would match that too.
It seems a new bank pops every other month in Omaha. How well do they make the case that if I move my banking to them I will have more money at the end of the year or my life will be more enjoyable? Well, one offers a free phone charger if I open a checking account. Umm, I have one. My point is the amount of creativity in making it clear that by doing business with them I will have more money or my life will be noticeably improved is…well, lacking. Thus, they give me no motivation to say yes to them.
So, train your sales force to grasp this insight: you will get a yes from a prospect when the prospect believes it will result in them having more money or a more enjoyable life. When you make a persuasive case for either of these outcomes, people will be interested in buying. If you can make a persuasive case for both of these outcomes, customers will chase you down for the opportunity to buy!