art of persuasion

In most networking groups ‘sales’ is almost a dirty word.  However, sales is the lifeblood of every business – no sales = no money!  The problem is nobody likes being sold to, but that doesn’t stop us wanting to buy stuff!

If you look at the traditional sales funnel, it starts with something free, then gradually educates the people who have identified they’re interested in that free material. The process upgrades them to become paying customers, first of a small item, then for the higher priced products or services.

This is persuasion and is based on the premise that they’ve already said they have an interest so more of the same kind of material may also be useful and interesting.

People buy from people they like

This is why email nurturing works well.  If your emails are conversational, interesting (dare I say, fun?) and offer useful tips as well as any promotions, people will get to know and like you.

This is why networking works too – people buy from the people they’ve got to know over many meetings.  They’re also happy to refer them as they feel they know them and trust them.

People buy from people like them

This doesn’t mean we all need to be clones of each other; it does mean that you need to be on the same wave-length.  You don’t have to be someone you’re not, authenticity and transparency are very important in the process of building trust, but you do have to have empathy for the people you want to do business with.

I’ve done a lot of training over the course of my career and I always adjust my language to the audience.  So, if I’m talking to people working on a production line I would use more casual language and phrases than the more formal approach I use in the boardroom.

This is all part of the first stage of a sales process – building rapport.

Credibility rules

In most sales situations people will not buy from anyone they don’t have confidence in.  It’s not hard to generate that – without boasting about your achievements.  Talking about the work you’ve done with other clients, the results they’ve achieved, the money they’ve saved, the companies you’ve worked with all contribute to this.

It’s why networking works so well – a referral comes with credibility already well past first base.  If you’re starting from scratch then you need to lay this foundation before moving forwards.

Credibility is why your website should feature testimonials.  Third party validation is always more powerful than anything you may say yourself.  It’s the reason some companies feature their client list too.

There is more than one reason to ask questions

Part of any sales process is asking questions – which works really well when you’re face-to-face, because it helps you to understand your potential client’s situation.  However, it also works when you’re operating in digital mode. 

If you really know your target market well, you already know what their issues and challenges are.  Asking questions relating to these, even in an email, reminds them of the pain they’re suffering and gives them a push in the right direction.

Using this foundation makes the actual sale much easier as it ends up changing the process around so that the potential customer is deciding to buy, rather than being sold to.