You probably don’t consider yourself a salesperson, do you? As business leaders, we’re usually “the idea gal” or “the creative guy.” You come up with stuff, you manage people, you buy donuts.
For you, selling is an afterthought.
But if you want to bust through your revenue plateau, you’ve got to invest in sales.
Nicole Walters of The Monetized Life has been in business for a little over a year, and she’s already hit the seven-figure mark.
It’s little wonder, given that she crushed it for a decade as a top-selling sales executive at Fortune 500 companies.
So believe me when I say — this woman knows how to generate revenue.
And a huge piece of her success is her approach to sales. As Nicole told me, “If you haven’t put dedicated thought toward this process, you are missing out.”
So she’s joining us on the Building a Story Brand podcast today to tell us her approach to selling. She’s given us four practical strategies we can use, and some of her answers may surprise you. But if you’re ready to take a more disciplined, intentional approach to selling and grow your business, this podcast is your first step.
Focus on the data
To sell well to prospective customers, we’ve got to understand our existing ones.
What value do people get out of your product or service? It’s often not what we, as a founder or key leader, assume it is.
You’ve got to ask them.
Nicole recommends sending surveys. Just a quick follow-up question to everyone who buys will give you all kinds of insight. You might ask:
How do you plan on using our product/service?
• The answers here could reveal whole new avenues of product ideas.
How could we make the product/service better?
• You could find a weakness that’s holding you back and turn it into a strength.
Has our product/service eliminated any problems for you?
• Understanding the problems you’ve solved for customers (some of which may surprise you) helps you address those same pain points with prospects.
For example, we send out a survey to anyone who attends our Live Workshops. We discovered, within three months, that our attendees really enjoy talking to each other. So we added a dinner and cocktail hour to the schedule. And it’s impacted how we sell, because we we play up the community more in our marketing materials.
Get Personally Involved in Customer Service
Seeing the broad trends in your data is one part of improving your sales savvy. Next, tap into your customer service interactions and understand the individual conversations that are happening.
When Nicole felt a little stuck in her business — wondering what was next — she took over customer service. Swapping emails and hopping on the phone directly with customers revealed pain points her customers were experiencing that weren’t on her radar. She came away refreshed, with lots of new ideas.
If you’ve felt detached from your business, or you’ve hit a stalemate, try connecting with customers. Here are a few ideas:
• Work the front register or the floor.
• Reply to your online reviews.
• Host a happy hour for your local customers.
• Take support emails for an afternoon.
• Message a customer who gave you constructive criticism on Twitter and set up a phone call.
Delegation is critical to great leadership and productivity. But don’t let it remove you entirely from the experience your customers are having. As Nicole says, “If you haven’t been able to dive in there, then you don’t know what they need. And you don’t know what’s next.”
Evolve your pitch
We talk a lot here at StoryBrand about how to clarify your message so people buy.
But it’s not a one-time process.
Your business is dynamic. It’s changing — along with your market, your competition, your customers, and the culture at large. Your pitch has to evolve, too.
Let’s take a mom and pop electronics store as an example.
They used to be able to say, “We offer high quality goods, and that’s why we’re better than our competitor down the street.”
But now that online retailers are a part of our daily life, they lose sales unless their pitch changes. Now they need to say, “Don’t make a blind buy online. Come down to the store so our knowledgeable team can make sure you get exactly what you need.”
In other words, the question may not be, “What is my business missing?” but rather, “What is my pitch missing?”
Connect with people
I noticed something about Nicole during our interview. She’s gifted at connecting with people. And while that personal connection is more important to her than the sale, it’s incredibly effective at GETTING the sale. (She sold the Uber driver on her business on the way to our interview. Stone. Cold.)
For some of us, this comes naturally. For others, we need tips. How do you connect with people?
First, open up and get talking. Take the joy you have for your business and share it. In her words: “If you’re working in the job that you’re supposed to be in, you shouldn’t be able to hold back from talking about it.”
Second, cast a wide net. Salespeople think in terms of quotas. They know that hitting sales goals starts with having enough touch points to begin with. Don’t wait for the business to come to you. Go out and pursue it. The whole notion that “if you build it, they will come” really doesn’t apply much beyond baseball fields and ghosts.
Third, try broadcast video in social media. Platforms like Pericope and Facebook Live make it easy to reach out and connect with new and prospective customers.
And if you’re new to this and have never done a live video broadcast, use Nicole’s framework:
– Introduce yourself
– Do a brief welcome
– Ask viewers to share the broadcast
– Hit a few teaching points for whatever your subject matter is
– Close with a call to action to continue the relationship
Fourth, don’t be afraid. As Nicole says, “If I were afraid to talk to people, I wouldn’t get the tools I needed to learn.”
Some people will say yes. Some people will say no, and — spoiler alert — when they do, you won’t immediately melt into a puddle and die. And regardless of what they say, you’ll gain a ton of insight in those conversations that you can use to grow your business. So you always come out on top.
As the great Zig Ziglar said: “Maybe you don’t hold the title of salesperson, but if the business you are in requires you to deal with people, you, my friend, are in sales.”
Embracing this truth as an entrepreneur may be one of the best things you can do for your business. And now you’ve got four surprising strategies to help you do it well.
What’s helped you become better at selling? Share your insights with me in the comments.
Podcast produced by: Tim Schurrer
Additional editing by: Nick Jaworski