Why is selling so difficult for entrepreneurs? If you’re someone who’s trying to start your own business, you’ve undoubtedly experienced the challenges involved in convincing prospects to become customers.
It can be as frustrating as convincing your 5 – year old to eat ALL of their vegetables.
Not easy, right?
This is a normal challenge that entrepreneurs face and many of us dread having to do it. And yet, being able to sell is not a something that can be avoided. As an entrepreneur, you will find yourself in many situations where you have to convince someone to do something you want them to do. It happens every single day.
Here’s the problem:
You do all the “right” things. You position yourself effectively, ask the right questions, and pitch the benefits that are relevant to your potential clients. However, people just aren’t saying “yes” to you.
If you’re confident that you’re using all the right sales techniques, and you’re still not closing sales, there are probably other important often-overlooked components that are missing from your approach. These components are keeping you from differentiating yourself from your competition.
There’s no doubt about it: If you want to succeed as an entrepreneur and build a thriving business, you need to learn how to sell better than the other guy. However, the art of persuasion is more than just a clever pitch or a great argument. After all, your competitors have clever pitches and great arguments too, right?
If you want to beat them, your sales approach needs something more.
The 4 components listed in this post will help you influence more effectively, and position your company as your prospect’s resource.
Branding. It’s usually a word you hear in relation to marketing. However, your brand is just as important to your sales efforts as it is to your marketing efforts. They are interrelated.
A strong brand can make your company irresistible to potential clients. Especially if you communicate your brand’s values effectively.
The key to having a strong brand is embracing a strong brand purpose. Your brand must become more than just its products or services. It has to take a stand.
Your beliefs are your brand. In order to stand out, you must figure out what you stand for.
Your brand’s purpose doesn’t necessarily have to be related to the products or services you offer. It just has to be a purpose that your audience can buy into. It has to be something that provides a distinct benefit to your world.
Here are some examples:
Chipotle Mexican Grill
Chipotle Mexican Grill’s “Food With Integrity” movement is focused on obtaining its food from healthier and more humane sources. The farms that Chipotle gets its food from don’t add artificial fillers or ingredients to its food. As a result, Chipotle is doing its part to create a healthier eating experience for its customers.
Cheerios supports a number of initiatives aimed at encouraging reading in children. The Little Free Library is one of these initiatives. They provide free books to children who donate one of their old books.
Zappos purpose is happiness. Plain and simple. Its policies regarding shipping and customer service are designed to provide as happy an experience to its customers as possible. As a matter of fact, CEO and Co-Founder Tony Hsieh wrote a book called “Delivering Happiness” and it has now become a movement of its own.
These are only a few examples of how businesses are moving beyond just selling products and services. Here’s some more examples if you want to learn more.
None of these brands are unique in and of themselves. Chipotle isn’t the only Mexican food chain in the country. Cheerios isn’t the only breakfast cereal. Zappos isn’t the only online retailer in existence. What makes them stand out? Their purpose.
Figure out what your brand’s purpose is, then learn how to communicate it effectively. This will help you connect with your prospects and make them more likely to buy from you.
Labeling is a strategy that many people overlook in their sales efforts. Why? Because most of them don’t even know what it is!
Labeling is a very effective technique that can help you frame the context of the sales interaction in a way that helps you. It’s a way to get your prospect to better understand how your product or service can help them solve their problems.
Many salespeople know how to position themselves and their product; labeling is positioning the customer and their needs. You’re basically telling them who they are, and how this relates to your position.
Here’s an example:
You own a landscaping company and you are bidding on a contract with your city. When you’re speaking with the city’s representative you might want to say something like “everyone knows that ABC Town values the quality of its parks and recreational areas.”
Sounds weird, doesn’t it? Doesn’t the city already know they value the quality of its parks? Of course they do.
However, when this point is reiterated by you in the sales interaction, it does two things. It reminds them of what they consider to be important, and it makes it easier for you to show them how you can help them accomplish their ultimate objectives. It’s really that simple.
There is one caveat.
You have to mean it. Don’t make up a label about a prospect that you don’t really believe. Not only is this unethical, it’s a transparent attempt to manipulate your prospect. They will see right through you.
When labeling is done the right way, it will show your customer that you understand where they’re coming from. This is important when it comes to establishing a relationship.
A large part of getting a prospect to become a customer is showing them how passionate you are about your company. Some entrepreneurs already get this.
However, other entrepreneurs don’t. Sure, they have a burning passion for what they do, but they neglect to let this show when dealing with a prospect. That’s a mistake.
It may seem counterintuitive, but it’s not. Showing that you have a passion for what you do is a great way to stand out from your competition.
According to Dan Pink, author of “To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others,” expressing positive emotions actually makes the customer more open to hearing what you have to say.
When discussing this issue, he writes:
“The effects of positivity during a sales encounter infect the buyer, making him less adversarial, more open to possibility, and perhaps willing to reach an agreement in which both parties benefit.”
Pink also goes on to describe the importance of showing that you believe in your product or service. When you show a genuine passion for what you’re doing, your prospect will be more likely to believe what you’re saying. After all, you wouldn’t feel so strongly about something if there wasn’t something to it, right?
Remember, you started this business for a reason. You probably saw a problem that needed solving, so you decided to take the step of starting your own business to solve that problem. Stay in touch with the emotions that pushed you to this point. Let your prospect see how you feel about what you do.
Another great way to stand out from your competition is to give them value without charging them for it. If there’s a way you can make your customer’s life easier without selling them a product, then do it.
Being good at sales means being able to establish a deeper connection to your customer. This means positioning yourself as their ultimate resource. You want to be their “go to guy.”
Chances are, you have expertise and insight into your industry that could help your customer. Use this expertise to provide guidance or advice that can help them solve annoying problems that come up.
The level of influence you have is directly tied to the amount of value you provide. In his book “Influence: Science And Practice,” Robert Cialdini discusses the principle of reciprocity. When it comes to sales, the principle of reciprocity says that if you are willing to provide value to your prospect at no cost, they will be more willing to have an open mind about your offering.
Entrepreneurs need to know how to sell. It’s non-negotiable. Persuading others is part of your everyday life when you’re building your business.
When it comes to transforming prospects into buying customers, it’s important to do whatever you can to stand out from the competition. It’s likely that your prospect has many other choices to choose from.
This is why you must establish your company as a problem solver that truly wants to see your customer get what they want. Effective positioning will help you convert more clients and establish better relationships with existing customers.
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