The immortal worlds echoed throughout the sales world couldn’t hold more true than it is today. Sure there are articles out there that change the words like “always be helping”, the concept however stays the same. The language has just been changed to adhere to current social/internet norms. Closing sales isn’t only about the sales itself, for my part, I believe it is just as important to close sales for your own psychological well-being.
Let’s examine the connection between “always be closing” and “always be helping”. It was 2001 when I first experienced the sales culture. I hadn’t joined a reputable company, but a company doing door to door sales essentially ripping off people with an exorbitantly priced vacuum cleaner. At this time, being new, my sales experience had been limited to convincing teachers my essay would be late due to a broken printer. You see, without sales experience and well developed skills, all you can really do is bend the truth until it becomes an outright lie. Contrary to popular belief about sales people, many of us do not feel great about lying to our clients, in actual fact, it is just a lack of skill on our part.
I soon left that role, and continued working in direct sales for a company that sold toys door to door in commercial and factory areas. I have to say the training at this place was “spectacular” in comparison to my previous job. They taught me the basics of building rapport with customers in a face to face scenario. Soon I was starting to see smiles on people’s faces when they purchased a toy for their child from me. I started to understand what a meaningful sale was, an “always be helping” close, and I can honestly say this is when you start to feel good about what you’re achieving.
Fast forward a few years, and I was doing great in a phone based role for a medical insurance agency (Australia). Here is where I really learned the actual sales process. Training went for a full month, with 2-3 weeks being dedicated to the sales process concept, something I still look at and reaffirm my skills with. The focus on needs based selling was really drilled into us during training, if they don’t need it, then let it go and move on.
Now being that the insurance industry has products designed to confuse people into buying their services I need to find a way to engage with my customers on a human level, yet explain to them what they needed to know in a way that didn’t mislead them. This is when I really learnt how to do an in depth needs analysis. The majority of time spent on my calls was spent learning about my customer, and what they needed out of our products.
Over time I developed as a sales person at this role, and an interesting pattern started to emerge. This pattern is recognized by every successful sales person out there. Once a thorough needs analysis had been done, and an examination with the customer as to what options were available to them had been discussed, the actual close happened automatically. The beginning of this job saw me asking for the sale, to now “telling” the customer that we are closing. It went from “so would you like to go ahead with that?” to “let’s get that started, what’s your full name please”. These two closings sound very similar, yet the conversion rate on the latter after going through the “always be helping” stage of a call was significantly higher. Not to mention, extremely consistent and fulfilling.
These days I spend my time in the digital marketing arena. Another industry that has been held back in growth by companies and people that use the old second hand car salesman approach. I’ve listened to people speak, and you can hear “buzz word, buzz word, buzz word”. Yet asking some of them for an explanation on those buzz words gets replied with a shrug or a silence. How can you possibly help people, when you don’t even realize what it is you’re trying to help them out with. It was like watching myself trying to sell $5000 vacuum cleaners all over again. To help your customer, you must know the ins and outs of your service or product. Once you have an intimate understanding of your product, your revenue generation will start to explode.
As you can see, by always helping your customers out, the sale closes itself. There is no need for trickery or deceit. The unfortunate part of being a sales person, is that you can often be lumped into the same category as those who either lack the skill, or those who don’t realize that being a sales person isn’t about mindlessly throwing products down client’s throats, but matching needs with services and products. That’s all sales really is, providing a solution for customers and businesses who need to find each other. We’re essentially the Cupid of the business world.