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Eight Insights That Make Selling Easier

I've been rereading Jeff Thull's book "Exceptional Selling". He's peppered the book with interesting observations and insight about selling, many of which have sparked me to think about key sales issues.

Here are some of his gems, with my own interpretation of their deeper meaning:

  • INSIGHT #1: Salespeople are guilty until proven innocent. While you and I know that selling is the soul of business and a good way to help people, most folk (even in business) tend to look upon the profession with suspicion. The minute you walk into an office, you need to prove that you can add value and that you're not trying to pull a fast one. Sad but true.
  • INSIGHT #2: When you're feeling pressure, you're doing something wrong. If you're constantly end the quarter with a flurry of activity, trying desperately to make your numbers, you haven't managed your time, or you're not thinking your sales process through. Selling is not an "unnatural act." It's supposed to be easy, not a struggle against time and fate.
  • INSIGHT #3: Never answer an unasked question. It's all too easy to scuttle a sale by raising issues that haven't yet entered a prospect's head. Such behavior usually occurs when the sales professional is so afraid of losing the sale that he begins surfacing (and answering) objections that exist only in his own paranoia. Remember, you can't read minds, so don't try.
  • INSIGHT #4: One opinion does not make a consensus. It's human nature to take one opinion (usually the last you just heard) and turn it into a final judgment. However, one opinion is meaningless. Just because the last prospect thought your offering was a waste of time, doesn't mean that the next prospect will feel the same way.
  • INSIGHT #5: Always protect the customer's self-esteem. It's absolutely true that EXACTLY half of all the customer you meet will be of below average intelligence within their demographic. Even so, it's your job to help them make good decisions and advance their careers. And you have to do this gently, without making them feel foolish.
  • INSIGHT #7: The purpose of a proposal is to reinforce already-made decisions. While proposals can sometimes help to develop an opportunity, in most cases, the proposal requesting (and writing) process happens after the prospect has already defined the problem and (probably) defined the solution as well.
  • INSIGHT #8: Remain professionally involved and emotionally detached. This is perhaps the best advice that anyone ever gave a sales professional. Taking things personally is the surest way to make yourself miserable. You can care about the customer, your career and your own firm, but it's crazy to use any of those as a proof point for your self worth.
READERS: Got any additional insights to share?