The other day as I was leaving my local Target store, I was asked by 3 young men to help them pay for their college education. They were clearly selling something that was contained in the binder they all held, but I had no idea what it was. I politely declined before finding out what they had, it could have been something I was in need of. As I was walking towards my car, I thought about turning around and give them some advice on how to better frame their sales pitch. I figured they may not be willing to listen to unsolicited advice, so I drove home.
But, it got me thinking. If I had given them some advice, what would I tell them. Even though it was a short ride home, I kept thinking that some of my points could be used in many situations since almost all of us is selling something at some point. Just because you are not making a living in sales, does not mean you are not selling an idea to your colleagues, a raise to your boss, a change in curfew to your parents.
Tell people what you are selling
Seems simple, but sometimes we forget to state the obvious. What is being sold. By starting their sales pitch without letting me know what they had to sell, they had lost me from the start.
It is not about you, it is about them
Because the young men in my story started their pitch with “help me pay for college”, they had lost me from the start. They looked like nice young men, but why did I want to help them? As good as most people are, when we are buying a product, service, etc, the seller needs to understand the benefits to their customer. Even if you are trying to get a raise, there still needs to be a benefit to the person you are selling the idea of the raise.
Sometimes you need to listen and ask some questions
Now if these young men had completed a few of these steps, the next piece of advice is to listen to the person you are selling to and make sure you ask some questions. Understanding what motivates someone to what or need what you are selling makes it easier for you to sell it to them.
These are just a few basic things to consider when you are looking have someone buy from you. I forget about them from time and time. When I review why a sales situation did not go as well as it could have, many times it is because I did not follow my own instructions!