Buyers in this day and age are well informed and well acquainted with selling techniques. In this digital age we also have a lot of resource available to us that enables us to research and short list potential suppliers before they often are even aware that we are looking. It means that we are free to take our time, and use well thought out logical reasoning, whilst avoiding any unnecessary sales pressures. Even so, our emotions are still a big part of our decision process, ultimately every purchase is driven by an emotion, and people buy from people. Like it, or not, unconsciously or consciously we are influenced by our very natural human desire to belong, and will naturally align ourselves with those who seem to share our values, beliefs, attitudes and rituals.
What does this mean for the seller? Especially for the micro or small business owner?
I believe we are going through a bit of a selling evolution, and probably have been for quite some time now. For me modern selling should focus on helping the other person or people involved in the buying process make informed buying decisions that are right for them and their businesses. It is about creating honest trusted dialogue not about persuading, manipulating, chasing and pushing. It requires a facilitative approach; you need to be the bridge – interpreter – enabler – mediator – advisor – expert. Good ethical selling is knowing what need, desire, issue, problem or challenge your product or service resolves, and identifying who has them; being visible where they hang out so they can find you; communicating effectively with them and developing relationships built on trust, honesty and transparency; and finally delivering for your customers in a way that adds value to their lives.
I also think that the micro and small business owner is well positioned to be able to do this, but more often than not doesn’t, mainly because of their own selling mindset and belief system, which creates a lot of fear and negative behaviours. These then drive them to hide behind their digital presence and avoid getting face to face. When you are running a business on your own it is also a big challenge maximising face to face time, it just doesn’t feel like there is enough time, and often the perception is that the value isn’t there either.
The reason face to face time is so important is because people do buy from people. There is nothing like spending physical time with somebody, eye contact and body language help us grow and strengthen relationships with connections, building trust and confidence.
So how as a micro business owner can you make the most of the selling evolution, maximise your face to face time, and start to attract and win your ideal customer.
First use your marketing to provide you with a natural screening processes, pre-qualifying and filtering your audience down to those who are a really good fit for you and who say it is essential for them to work with you. You do this by:
- Getting your marketing message clear. Fine tune your customer avatars, and key messages. Make sure you allow who you are, your values and beliefs to shine through.
- Deal with objections and questions through marketing content in a structured manner.
- Use positive reviews, testimonials and case studies to provide proof and evidence.
- You also need to be transparent about your prices, even if what you offer is a bespoke service you can still provide examples and ballpark figures
- Automate and delegate as much of this as you possible can.
This allows you to manage your time much more effectively, spending face to face time with those who are a good fit for you and your business, and are in a place where they are almost ready and more likely to proceed to doing business with you.
When face to face it is all about the quality of your conversation. Using listening, questioning, relationship building skills and developing solutions in the right way. I call this The Elegant Conversationalist. Key to this are:
- You being natural and yourself, whilst radiating self- assurance and belief.
- Listening and understanding what the real emotion is behind their buying need.
- Developing solutions that work, with them.
- Being prepared to close and ask for the order.
- Celebrating the opportunity to work together with them.
Creating a clear and automated marketing strategy, will free you up for more face to face time with the right people.