The number one secret to success in sales

The simple solution that most people ignore

#1 secret to sales success. Paul Claireaux

If you’re interested in selling (or you need your team to sell) a lot more of your products or services for the same or less effort, then this Insight is for you.

This is also probably the most valuable business tip I know.

In a nutshell?

Whether you’re selling to a potential customer or trying to sell a potential supplier on the idea of working with you, start by taking an interest in that other person.

Sales are built on trust which requires a relationship, and that starts with genuine, active listening.

The truth is, very few people do this very well. So, it’s actually quite easy to set yourself apart from the rest – and win at this game, big time.

What do I know about it?

Well, I’m glad you asked because you should know what qualifies me to talk on this.

Back in my ‘corporate’ working days, I rose through the ranks to become the top B2B salesperson in the UK for a blue-chip investment and pensions company.

I achieved that position by rapidly expanding new business from three different ‘dormant’ geographical areas over a 7 year period. And, after that, I was invited to move into marketing/product development – where I learned a whole bunch of other skills. More on those another day.

Sorry if that sounds braggy. It’s not intended that way.

It’s just to reassure you that I’ve ‘been there and done it’ – in the hard environment of B2B sales.

First, break all the rules

Anyway, the question I assume you have is the same as my colleagues would often ask me.

‘How did you manage to sell so much?’

My workmates were certainly confused by my results – because I used to make far fewer sales calls than them.

So, in their book, and that of my various sales managers, I broke all the classic rules’ of sales.

Why did I make fewer sales calls?

Well, it wasn’t just because I didn’t like kissing frogs; it was because I didn’t have the time.

So, here’s the number one secret of success in sales.

Do, this (and the other things I’ll cover in this series) if you want to be brilliant at it.

Be “interested” in your customer before trying to be “interesting” yourself.

Really… is that it?

Yes, that’s the number one secret, and it’s breathtakingly simple, isn’t it.

The trouble is, like most simple secrets to success, most people don’t do this; most get this all wrong.

As an aside, it’s worth remembering that we’re all salespeople whether we like it or not. Just think what’s going on when you need to win your partner over on an idea – whether it’s about the next holiday or how to approach a home purchase, or a home improvement or a new car… or how to deal with the kids – that’s a tricky one right?

Getting a good result is really about selling an idea. And, it works best when we listen to the other person’s point of view before we thrust forward with our own!

How many people do you know who tell you that their partner “doesn’t listen”?

It’s all about the base pitch, right?

Cue music!

In my experience, a lot of coaches, consultants entrepreneurs and other professionals spend most of their ‘selling’ time trying to ‘pitch’ what they do.

I’m sure you recognise this – especially if you attend networking events. More on those events here

Well, no, it’s NOT all about the pitch

Sure, there’s a time and place for a good pitch but it’s not when you’re talking one on one to someone you want to do business with.

That’s a very different dynamic and the rules are very different too.

So, just remember that what most people like to talk about, most of the time is not your product or your service. And certainly not about you.

Other people want to talk about themselves and their challenges.

That’s the plain and simple fact of the matter, and we all have this preference too!

You’ve heard this before?

Well, I’m not surprised, this idea is as old as the hills.

I first learned about it in 1985 when I first read Dale Carnegie’s book, ‘How to win friends and influence people’.

And it was that book (and others, and some great sales training at Clerical Medical and a shed load of effort) that helped get me to the top in sales.

In truth, Carnegie’s book is a tad ‘cheesy’ for today’s market, but we should probably forgive him for that as it was published in 1936, but it still offers valuable lessons that most people could learn from today.

In any event, the essential point here is this. Your business prospect will enjoy talking with you a whole lot more if they are the ones doing most of the talking.

Allow them to do that, so they enjoy the first conversation with you, and they’re more likely to want to have a second or third conversation.

These conversations then allow you to build trust (provided you know your products and services – and follow up on your promises), and trust is the must-have if you want to sell big-ticket consulting or coaching type work.


A word of warning

This idea is not about ‘faking’ interest in your prospect.

I’ve seen people try that and it’s ghastly.

They mistakenly believe that they can ‘play’ at sales rather than taking the job (and more importantly, their customer) seriously.

I’ve even heard an MD of an IT company suggest ‘faking it’ as a strategy !

For goodness sake – don’t do that.

Your interest in your customers must be genuine.

And they need to ‘sense’ that you are genuinely interested and listening too.

Sure, you might get away with dishonesty and disinterest – for a while – in some jobs.

And especially if your product sells itself.

But then if the product does sell itself . . . why does it need any salespeople?

So, you need to have a belief in your product* and commit to taking a genuine interest in your customers.

*If you don’t believe in the product you’re selling – that’s a big problem.

If you work for someone else, ask for help to better understand the product and its strengths.

Very few products or services win on every count.

Or, if the products and services are truly ‘awful’ and there’s little prospect of that changing . . .

. . . go get another job 😉 because no rubbish product deserves to survive.

So, if you own the business – commit to constantly enhancing your products and services.

And you can use the feedback you get from your sales force (or your personal sales conversations) to help you with that.

Now, of course, there’s a lot more to success in sales than this one secret – good though it is.

I’ve barely scratched the surface here and there are at least another 20 big secrets to success in your sales and marketing.

We’ll come back to these over time of course but, if you’re in a hurry and want some 121 coaching help in these areas, right away. Or you simply want help to think through your options for solving a particular challenge you have at the moment give me a shout here.

I’ll help if I’m available – and, in the meantime – if you like these kinds of tips and you’d like to see more . . .

. . . just join my new Facebook Group – or sign up for Newsletters.

I’d love to help you achieve more

Thanks for dropping in


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