Sales – the oldest profession

We have all been told what the oldest profession is, but of course, it is actually sales. Think about it, before someone can pay for your services they have to be sold!

When I was a wet-behind-the-ears young salesman (long, long ago), I was introduced to a simple concept that had an amazing effect on my sales success. Here’s how it goes…

The world is full of problems and one way of looking at selling is as a form of problem solving. As sales people we aim to use our products or services to overcome problems the customer may be having.

However, obviously we can’t fix every problem. A problem that our product can fix is called an opportunity in sales and marketing terms. Now, many inexperienced sales people are good at recognising opportunities, and they go straight for the jugular with a feature-benefit volley. But they don’t get the sale. Why not?

Well, successful sales people know that it’s meeting a customer need that persuades the customer to buy. A need is a problem that your product can fix and the customer wants fixing.

So, next time you are in front of your customer and you recognise an opportunity, take a breath and just confirm with the customer that it is actually a need. A simple question like, “and is having that important to you?”, answered in the affirmative tells you all you need to know and now is the time to let rip with the features and benefits. Of course, if the customer says “no” then you will have to find a new angle to explore.

If you are struggling with getting sales, try this approach and you’ll be amazed at the results. If you are still not convinced, why not contact me for some one-to-one coaching or attend my next Sales and Marketing Master Class.

Happy selling!

Influential communication – does body language matter?

The fundamental purpose of influential communication is to persuade others to behave the way you want them to. This has numerous applications in sales, marketing, leadership and management. A key question in trying to do this is “does body language matter?” The simple answer is “yes it does!”

The Social Styles model was developed over 40 years ago and has been refined and expanded since that time. Social Styles can be used to influence the behaviour of others, and at the heart of this model is the reading and adaptation of behaviour; first our own, then that of other people. But where does the evidence come from that adapting body language is important?

Back in the 1970s, a researcher at the University of California in Los Angeles identified the importance of body language to verbal communication. Now, the work of Professor Albert Mehrabian has often been misquoted and used to explain / justify much beyond his original work, but the gist of what he found is as follows: getting our message across to other people is about much more than just choosing the right words.

In fact, Mehrabian showed that words only contribute about 7% to the effectiveness of communication, with tone of voice (38%) and body language (55%) being much more important. In particular, it seems that we need more than just the words to decide whether we believe the speaker (or even to decide if they believe what they are saying ).

That is not to say that the words are unimportant. Change the words and you change the meaning. However, the words are not enough on their own.

Still not convinced? Well, just think about how the intent behind the words becomes more ambiguous as we move from face-to- face communication, to telephone, to e-mail and txt!

Notice that according to Mehrabian, over half of the message we take from verbal communication comes from reading body language. Now, most of this is going on at a subconscious level, but it does make sense. For instance, we are able to discern possible danger to ourselves by interpreting body language, and this has been a vital survival mechanism throughout human evolution. You disagree? Well, next time you see someone coming towards you with a bloody knife and a deranged expression on their face what will you do; take precautions, or wait to confirm your worst fears with a simple verbal, “do you intend me some harm?”

So, body language does matter and Social Styles allows us to maximise the 93% of communication that Mehrabian says is vital to understanding and influencing other people. Clearly this is key to successful sales, marketing, leadership and management.

Learn more about Albert Mehrabian

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