Here’s something that we all know as consumers but forget as salespeople:
When we feel like someone is trying to sell us something, our shields go up.
We know this, but we do it anyway when we’re selling. Why? Because we want the sale of course. But that’s another way of saying, “We’re attached to the outcome.” The solution is as painfully obvious as it is painfully painful:
Detach from the outcomes
This is a paradoxical idea: you sell more when you don’t try too hard to sell.
But you already know that intuitively, right? So what makes it so hard to do?
First, we’re in sales. We need the sale. We’re behind on quota. The end of the month/quarter/year/promotion is coming soon. How are we going to make our numbers?
And so just like a creepy date, we show up way too eager, and the customer’s shields go up.
Which wouldn’t be so bad, except in order to make the right sale–the one that’s in the customer’s best interest and will keep them coming back for years in the future–we need information.
A customer whose shields are up doesn’t give us information.
Well, here’s the thing. I had the greatest luxury ever in sales: I was an engineer, then an engineering manager, and now I’m running a company. Have I cared about sales?
I didn’t have a quota, so I could relax and engage with the customer on their terms.
And the result has always been that I sell more and at higher margins. I also generate more repeat business and more referrals, both at comparatively low acquisition cost. Plus I’ve routinely had customers asking what they can do for me.
But don’t let it backfire
Detaching from the outcome doesn’t mean you’re not in the sales business anymore. It just means you’re not presenting yourself as needy. Instead, you’re presenting yourself as a lot of other things, such as:
This is like the salesperson’s version of the Scout Law. (Bonus points if you know what that is.)
What customer doesn’t want to have a conversation with that awesome person? And why would they buy from anyone else?
Last thing. Here’s a story…
When I moved back to the US in 2012, I needed a car.
I went to the dealership and met Ryan Plunkett. Ryan spent 2 hours looking at cars with me. We drove several cars while he talked me through figuring out what I needed. He was emphatic that I needed to buy a car that I would not regret.
Once I settled on a car, he literally said the one thing that car salespeople aren’t allowed to say: “Go home and think about this. Come back tomorrow and let’s decide what you want to do.”
The next day I bought a car from Ryan without shopping anywhere else.
Two months later my wife got back to the US and needed a car. We went straight to Ryan. All the salespeople were sitting out in the sweltering Arizona sun waiting for a potential customer. But where was Ryan?
At his desk with a line of 5 people waiting to talk to him.
Ryan detached from the outcomes. He crushed every other salesperson at the dealership as a result. Over the next 5-6 years I referred several people to him, and some of them also referred others.