SalesHood - Sales Enablement Platform

To Sell Is To be Human

  • by Elay Cohen
  • May 24, 2014

To Sell Is To be Human

I’m finding myself having the same conversation over and over with sales professionals.

“I don’t understand why this deal got pushed.”

“I thought the customer was ready to buy.”

“My customer isn’t getting back to me.”

Did you pick up the phone and ask them how they’re doing? Do you know what’s really going on their world? Are you sensitive to the fact that they probably have a thousand things racing through their mind and you’re not at the top of the list even though you’d like to think you are?

It feels like we’re losing the spirit of relationship building and connectivity.

It feels like we’re losing the human side of selling. 

It got me thinking about what we can do in our daily routines to keep it real. Here are some suggestions to help us begin having more open conversations about this important topic:

Pick up the phone. We all do it. We write an email and hit send way too quickly. Next time you’re about to hit send, ask yourself, when’s the last time I spoke to this person on the phone?

Be curious. Tap into that age old skill asking questions.  Listen. Listen. And listen more. Ask great open ended layered questions to uncover what’s really going on in a business.

Be polite. It’s a simple concept. While I’m a big believer of the principles of insight selling and provoking prospects to think bigger about their business, we still need to earn the right.

It’s not all about you. Always start with customer issues and challenges. Have them talk first. I recommend starting sales calls. customer meetings, and email communications with a customer sharing their goals and challenges. I remember at Salesforce, we created template customer meeting agendas as a tool and inserted “customer priorities” as a line item to remind folks to start with the customer rather than the demonstration.

Tell stories. People like to hear stories about companies like them. They like to hear about situations that are similar to ones they are facing. Be ready to share with your customers stories that are emotional, transformational, and quantifiable.

Don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions. I love the expression “happy ears” and I always caution sales teams including myself to ask the hard questions. Focus on why customers won’t buy rather than why customers will buy. And most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask what it will take to get an order. It’s better to hear the no and understand why they customer isn’t ready right now to buy.

Be empathetic. Never get defensive. Handle objections with questions. Start statements with phrases like: I can relate to how you’re feeling or I know exactly what you’re going through right now.

Do your homework.  How would you feel if someone walked into your office and they didn’t know you had a significant event just happen in your life? Make sure you’re aware of what’s going on. Using #socialselling tips on this is a great place to start.

Pretend you were buying from you.  I always put myself in the shoes of a customer. How would I feel about being on the receiving end of an email or a call or a demonstration? Role play real life customer experiences with your team and in your head before you take action.

Send thank you notes.  When is the last time you wrote someone a hand written thank you noting showing your gratitude for their time, an introduction and especially a signed PO?  It’s a classy way to show you’ll always go that extra mile.

I hope you find these sales tips useful and that you share them with your sales teams. Dive into my book SalesHood to read all about these sales tips and much more. 

About the Author
Elay Cohen

Elay Cohen

Elay Cohen is the author of SalesHood: How Winning Sales Managers Inspire Sales Teams to Succeed and the co-founder of SalesHood, a SaaS sales enablement platform and community for sales professionals. Elay is the former Senior Vice President of Sales Productivity at Salesforce. Recognized as the company's "2011 Top Executive", and credited for creating and executing all of Salesforce's sales productivity programs that accelerated its growth from $300M to $3B+ in revenue. The sales training and sales support innovations delivered over these years by Elay and his team to thousands of sales reps resulted in unprecedented hypergrowth. He also created the Partner Relationship Management (PRM) category.

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