Increasingly, we hear about the importance of relationship selling, and it is important, but it is just one of many positions you can take with a prospect. Every sales professional is different and varied products and services call for different engagement strategies.
Knowing the different positions you can hold as a sales professional will allow you to better adapt to different personality types and sales situations. I have worked with countless small business owners who have no desire to be my “friend”, what they want is a clear definition of the value proposition, how much and how fast.
If you’ve been selling for some time, you may have found yourself in the ‘friend zone” with a prospective client, this is a great zone if your preferred style is relationship sales. If it’s not, then you may feel frustrated by the amount of time you must invest to bring the sale to fruition.
I have discovered three positions that will help any sales professional, business owner or entrepreneur refine their sales strategies and close more sales.
#1 – The Relationship
Sales people assume this position when they’re selling a product or service that requires a long term commitment of both time and money. As a sales professional who has mastered relationship sales, the focus is on finding people you genuinely like and respect. It is cumulative nightmare to engage in this type of sales if you don’t like your prospects, for one simple reason: they accumulate. The end result of all your efforts will be you spending more time and expending more effort on people you don’t care about. Therefore, it is imperative that you are selective and you pick your prospects like you would a business partner. With that being said, this sales position can be highly gratifying, allowing you to build a group of like-minded people you enjoy being around. We should all be so lucky.
#2 – The Consultant
The consultant position can also be called the expert position. Here, a sales pro acts like a doctor, asks excellent questions which expose the real needs and pain of the prospect. After the prospect is thoroughly understood, the sales doctor makes an authoritative diagnosis and recommends a treatment. At the end of this conversation, the two remaining options to the prospect are to buy or seek a second opinion. Notice, that trust and rapport are established by the authority of the sales person, not their relationship status. I had a doctor who was not especially polite and on several occasions told me things I didn’t want to hear and called me out on my unhealthy habits, when he finally recommended a treatment I did exactly what he said because I respected his authority. You can do the same.
#3 – The Teacher
This is my favorite position because I love to teach. It also allows you sell effectively while not wasting time developing relationships you have no intention of maintaining. A huge bonus is that it leverages the law of reciprocity.
The law of reciprocity states that when something is given to another, it creates a deficit that needs to be repaid. Psychologically, the prospect will feel indebted to you and they will have a compelling desire to balance their ledger. This law is the reason you should never accept an unsolicited gift; these gifts are attempts to wield influence over you.
In the teacher position, you simply empower your prospect with knowledge. Teach them how their industry works, provide insights that change their prospective and result in them making better decisions for their business. This is the best style for professionals like lawyers and accountants because it establishes rapport and authority immediately. Any sales professional can leverage this style, read industry specific periodicals, stay up to date and build a 10-minute lesson into the beginning of your sales pitch. You will be blown away by the results.
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