The Bent Business Guide to Selling Your Stuff: Part 1 of ?

11 November 2013
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OK. I have no idea how many of these posts I am going to author, but I feel the need to throw my two cents on selling in your direction.

If I had 100 people in a room, and posed the question, “who in here is in the business of selling?” many hands would go up. But the reality is, 100 hands should be raised high in the air waving around like they just don’t care. Some old school rap tossed in for flavor!

Every single one of us is entrenched in the business of sales. We sell our spouse on what movie we want to see, we sell our children on the importance of eating their vegetables, we sell our parents on the reason why we have to change our major in college to basket weaving and we even sell ourselves on justifying that new stereo purchase.

Selling is in our DNA! But the real question is…how do we hone those skills in order to make more money?

In Part 1 of this Bent Business Guide to Selling, I am going to introduce you to the concept of interruption sales versus welcoming sales.

This analogy is my go-to comparison when I teach business owners how to effectively use social media to market their businesses, but I feel that it also fits in perfectly as an ice breaker to selling. Read along as I tell the story of a house party, an invitation, strangers and selling stuff.

Imagine for second that you’re invited to a house party. Your friend, “Joe” asks you to accompany him to a social gathering consisting of a few dozen people in which none are friends of your own. They all have known Joe for years, but since you recently met Joe, you have no idea who else he hangs out with on his off time. Since your schedule is embarrassingly clear, you take him up on his invitation and agree to meet Joe at his house so you can ride together to the party.

As Joe knocks on the door, you start thinking about your home business, selling vehicle detailing equipment and assorted cleaning supplies. So far your business has been somewhat of a bust, and you fear that you might have to toss in the towel. You consider yourself a bad salesman, and attribute that to your failed attempts to profit in your new venture. Just as the door opens, and you’re greeted by the host, two scenarios pop in your head. One will create an outcome that will not make you money and cause you embarrassment, and the other will build new friendships and put some cash in your pocket every month.

thatguyScenario 1: You’re so excited about the opportunity to sell your product to unsuspecting listeners, that you lose focus on the fact that you are being introduced to a new social circle for the first time. Instead of exchanging pleasantries, you immediately start your pitch. In less than fifteen minutes, Joe is regretting is friendly invitation, and you start becoming labeled as “that guy.” Most of the party goers make aggressive attempts to avoid you. All you’ve added to the conversation was a lame attempt to sell strangers on a product they never showed interest in. Why you haven’t gone unnoticed, your inexperience and lack of social skills stiff arm any chances of obtaining a few customers and paying your rent that month. You can chalk this up as a complete failure!

That example was pretty blunt, but now let’s explain what you should have done.

Scenario 2: The door opens, and you’re greeted by the cordial host. You happily shake hands and begin working the room. One by one, you get to know everyone in attendance. You exchange snapshots of your children, talk about your favorite sports team, and begin discussing individual hobbies. As conversations begin to kick-off, you listen to what people are saying. You pay attention to their likes, dislikes and examine their personalities. You’ve been at the party for a little over two hours, and everyone seems to appreciate the fact that Joe invited you. You fit in perfectly! During one conversation in particular, five guys are huddled around a card table discussing the cars they’ve been restoring. They talk of a huge classic car show that’s taking place in less than a month, and they each express a desire to enter their restored ride. Now you’re no dummy when it comes to cars, you start asking them questions about performance, color, interior and how they plan on preparing their car for the competition.

They reveal that one of the problems they consistently run into is finding a window cleaner that doesn’t leave behind streaks and cloudy residue. Your heart starts to race because you sense an opening for your pitch. Not just any opening…a welcomed invitation for you to advertise your offer without any chance of judgment or disappointment.

They want and need what you have to sell! Your chances of closing the sale have just increased exponentially. Even better, there’s a huge likelihood that these five guys will turn out to be repeat customers. Customers that never need to hear your pitch again. They know what you have, they know it works and they’ll continue to buy as long as you are selling.

So back to the scenario. Now that you’ve heard a few of the guys reiterate the same problem, you speak up telling them that you have the cure. You sell the solution and back it up with a 100% no questions asked guarantee. You came to this party with no intentions on making a sale, but it’s by sheer coincidence that you have a few cans of this miracle cleaner in your car. They excitedly ask you to bring them in so they can take a look. When you get back inside, you notice that several of these guys recruited a few others who share a common passion for classic cars, and they too want to see what you’ve got.

A quick demonstration and they’re hooked. That night, you sell 27 cans, and receive eleven new members in your preferred buyers’ club. This means that they’ve agreed to lock in an order for six cans a month for one year, and for their commitment, they receive a small discount and a bonus gift!

The sum total of your hard work…that really wasn’t real work at all…is an astonishing $436.97. Between your individual markup and your sales commission, you are back in the black, and not too far from your monthly sales goal.

If you still can’t see the difference between scenario 1 and scenario 2, then you might be a lost cause. But my guess is that you recognize that with simple communication, developing friendships, and waiting for your opening, you’ll increase your chances for success in sales. The days of interrupting people, and aggressively pushing for the sale are over. People are busier than ever, and they don’t offer up their trust easily.

Lesson learned; wait for a welcoming invitation to pitch your offer and always remember to be patient. Good things will come if you pay attention to the conversation already going on. Truly successful salesman understand that God created us with two ears and one mouth for a reason. Listen, learn, listen some more and then close the sale.

In that order.

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photo credit: Dustin Diaz via photopin cc

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