What I Have Learned About Selling

We live in an interesting and sometimes strange world. I say interesting because there is always something new to learn. Around every corner, it seems, I find another subject or idea to chase down a trail and into a deep dark hole of endless pursuit.

I love it, but if I’m being honest, it tests my self-restraint. Afterall I can’t pursue all my interests.

Since the latter end of high school, I have been researching opportunities that exist to make money online. It’s been frustrating at times, but also educational. I had no idea that so many people made money online, in one way or another, prior to my research.

They don’t teach you that in school.

Entrepreneurship is not embraced in education. I guess because it’s not a perfect science and it can be ambiguous, but even so, how can they just ignore it? Entrepreneurship is a vital part of capitalism. We love capitalism, right?

But anyway, let’s get back to what I promised with my headline which is selling. I’ve learned that much of the opportunities to make money online involve selling or at least contributing to the sales funnel process in some way.

The Buyer’s Journey

The sales funnel is almost a slang term now on the internet thanks to Russell Brunson and his company Clickfunnels. Their guerilla marketing tactics are pretty sensational and have been proven to work effectively. The sales funnel is closely related to the buyer’s journey.

The buyer’s journey comprises of three stages that everyone goes through before buying a product or service. Those stages being: awareness, consideration, and decision.

Remember that time you were driving down the highway and you saw that billboard for a random event you had no idea about?

Yes? Well, the billboard made you aware of it for at least a split second.

After recognizing what the sign was saying your brain quickly decided whether or not it was relevant to you. Your brain quickly considered going to the event and quickly made a yes or no decision.

The company organizing that event on the billboard is hoping that you take a lot longer to consider going than you actually did, but you get the point. Most passers-by aren’t in their target market anyway.

You went through the buyer’s journey in a matter of seconds, but sometimes it takes weeks, months, and yes, sometimes consumers will be in the buyer’s journey for years before they take the intended action.

This brings us to some tried and true principles of sales worth heading.

Listen to Your Customer

Listen to your customer (you should create a buyer persona) tell you their problem or in some other way figure out what their problem is. Try to get as close to the problem as you can by talking to your customer, asking them to participate in a survey, and asking them very specific questions.

Get as many details as possible about what it is the customer is struggling with because the more you know about it the better you will be able to solve it and offer your solution. You need to know exactly what motivates your customer to take action so that you can approach them in such a way that makes them feel good about buying.

Be Concise

Customers don’t want to sit through your long, drawn-out sales pitch. Realize that most individuals can only listen for a short span of time before they lose interest.

This makes for the greatest challenge: getting the most important points across in the first few minutes, or sometimes sooner. This is dependent on the context of the scenario of course.

If you have a meeting set weeks or days in advance then you may have more time to develop and unpack your idea or offer. In contrast, if you meet someone in the routine of your day then deliver quickly.

Writing an ad with limited word count is challenging because you must go over your words with a fine tooth comb and decide the importance of each.

Writing an ad for multiple pages or more raises other challenges, but is generally considered easier.

When time is short, use this structure to get your objective across: “We help {this group of people} do {this benefit}{better, cheaper, faster, or easier} even if {worst case believable scenario}.”

Pretty cool huh? This sentence structure can sell or explain an organization’s mission.

Persuade and Address the Alternative

Find a way to reverse the risk your customer is facing. Offer a money back guarantee if they aren’t satisfied in a certain number of days or given circumstance occur. Show the customer that you trust them and you believe they will love your offer.

Over deliver and provide a way out for your customer. Show them they can leave, but explain why they shouldn’t.

One mistake many salesmen make is they don’t provide their listener a pathway to buy. You must tell them exactly what to do next so they can experience your offer. What do they need to do to accept?

The Big Idea

Your ability, as an individual or a company, to sell is only equivalent to how well you know your customer. Whoever understands a target market best will enjoy the greatest success in selling.

Selling is natural for humans. We all do it on most days in subtle ways when we interact with our friends and family. These tactics were discovered simply be interacting with other people and understanding human nature.

What I have learned about selling so far is that there is a framework that anyone can use to present their offer to just about anyone with a reasonable chance of success. The rate of success is contingent on the quality of the offer and the skill of the delivery.

The idea is that selling can be broken down into pieces and worked on individually. Progress can be tracked and quality of execution can be judged. The salesman who can look at his job critically has the opportunity to grow by breaking down each part of the sales process and working on them individually.