The 9 Biggest Lies You Tell Yourself About Sales
You know that you need to upgrade your sales skills but it can be challenging to sift through all the hype out there. The internet is full of articles and videos featuring techniques and advice from self-proclaimed sales gurus, but how many of them have actually held down a sales job? And of those, how many of them were actually successful at it?
Fortunately for you, the latest episode of the Communications Czar Podcast features an in-depth interview with sales genius Lynn Whitbeck. Whitbeck has been featured in USA Today, HuffPost, and The Chicago Tribune, but more importantly, she is a sales veteran who has closed multimillion-dollar global sales for Fortune 1000 Companies. She is the Founder and CEO of Future Forward Sales, a fast-growing sales and leadership development company teaching individuals and teams to replicate Whitbeck’s approach for sustained success. When it comes to sales, Whitbeck has figured out the perfect formula to sell, starting with overcoming any negative thoughts you have that keep you from being successful.
1. Introverts don’t belong in sales.
Stop making excuses for yourself. Any personality type can succeed as long as you focus on helping your customer. When asked what it takes to be successful in sales, Whitbeck says, “If it floats your boat to help others — because that’s what you’re doing in sales — you’re helping your customer find the right fit, the right solution for their needs.”
2. Great salespeople think networking is fun and easy.
Sales success does not require you to be innately proficient at working a room. “I hated networking for years when I started out. I really did, and yet, I really enjoyed helping people and sort of getting to know them one on one,” Whitbeck confesses. She says you’ll be fine as long as,
“You go in with the right intent, and what I mean by that is this genuine curiosity to learn about the other person.”
3. If you want to get people talking, just approach them and ask them about their job.
Whitbeck says there’s a wrong way and a right way to strike up a conversation with possible business connections. One wrong approach is to start with questions like, “What brought you here?’ or, “What do you do?”
Her favorite way to start conversations at business events is to ask people: “If you could be anywhere else, where would you be right now and with whom?” And they might answer, “I’d be hiking in Yosemite with my daughter,” to which you can respond with, “That is so cool. Have you done that before?” From there, you just keep the conversation going.
Whitbeck says, “When you allow people to share, they are going to open up and tell you more. And you can use questions like, ‘Tell me more… I’m just curious how did you get into that? Where did you get started?’ All these things are going to draw them out.”
4. Your sole focus should be on building rapport with key decision-makers.
Whitbeck encourages you to give everyone the respect and attention they deserve, regardless of where they are in the formal hierarchy of an organization.
She says, “That receptionist, she’s a gatekeeper, she’s going to keep you in or out of the building. If you are rude to her or him, you may as well just kiss that client goodbye. When you are genuinely good to those people, and that’s not because you’re being fake, but because it’s a kindness of heart and spirit; that you truly view everyone with the same level of dignity and respect. That just paves the way. I want everybody to take a moment to just think about what the world would be like if we did that, we all leaned into that.”
5. Always Focus on your numbers.
As the famous saying goes: put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Don’t focus too much on the numbers. Instead, Whitbeck advises to think like the customer and start by pondering these questions: What do they want, need or lack? How is what you offer going to benefit them?
The correct focus of all sales is to fulfill the customers’ needs. Think of this,
“You are selling the (insert your product or service) so your customer can…(insert customer’s desired outcome).
“If you focus on that, you will be giving your customers exactly what they want,” she says.
6. You need to teach your customers your terms and buzzwords.
You need to become fluent in your client’s language, incorporate their words and phrases into your presentations.
Whitbeck suggests, “Listen to the language and terms they use. Pick up on those things and then you repeat those back because that’s the vocabulary of their organization and you want to adopt that because it makes it easier for you to become part of their world.”
A classic example she cites is when she had to make a presentation to a group of Costco executives. She explains, “My analogy is based on the Costco chicken. Everybody who’s ever been to Costco has bought one of those beautifully roasted chickens. Costco took that chicken and they started making it into all these different products. It became chicken pot pie, chicken fettuccine, chicken soup. It just went on so they’re making chickens to make all the other chicken stuff. The point of my analogy was how this product I was presenting would be able to be adapted to fit all these different needs that as an organization they had.”
The funny part was that the president of Whitbeck’s company was there and didn’t appreciate the analogy at first.
She continues, “If he had been close enough to me, he would have kicked me, he was making these faces at me like, ‘what the hell are you doing?!’ because this was a really big deal and he had flown in for this. But all of a sudden, he finally looked around and he realized everyone on the Costco side had leaned in and they were totally involved in this story and my analogy of how this was going to work for them and why it was going to work for them.”
7. Pickles belong on hamburgers.
Whitbeck has a formula that she calls “The Pickle” to remind herself and her clients how to productively respond to challenging or off-the-wall questions. It is important to have a plan for dealing with these scenarios because sometimes people will ask you strange questions in order to see what it’s going to be like working with you, especially when something weird or unexpected happens.
Whitbeck points out, “The key is to begin your response with a powerful pause and then you answer the question to the best of your ability, no matter how weird it is.”
“Sometimes certain people on the client’s team can try to see if they can get a rise out of you. They may try to provoke you in some way and so being able to answer challenging questions calmly and confidently is really important. Listen to the question so that you truly understand because sometimes there’s a trigger word in there, and you want to go off on a tangent. Pause and ask yourself, ‘Okay, what did they just ask me?”
Go ahead and check out www.futureforwardsales.com/pickle to watch the video about The Pickle and access Whitbeck’s Pickle Sheet.
8. Hold your ground when prospective customers challenge your proposal.
“It’s really important that you know your deal points and you know where you can move and how you can move,” Whitbeck emphasizes. You have to explain your deal points to your prospects so they know exactly what you are offering.
She further explains, “Prepare by thinking about what are the top questions, what are the top objections, and what are our deal points? You know where you can deviate and where you are not going to deviate. You type it up and you have all the answers. It’s not reading from a script but when you know the information and you have done some role-playing and practiced it, it just comes naturally.”
9. Wait for customers to ask questions, even if they are always the same.
“I like all of our customers to prepare for those top 10 questions that their customers have,” Whitbeck says. She has her clients create materials to address their customers’ most frequently asked questions. “An article, a short video, an infographic, maybe a checklist or a guide because people are going to respond to different types of input and different things will catch their eye.” Deliver the information in different ways to appeal to different people.
Now that you know better than to believe the lies you’ve been telling yourself about sales, put Whitbeck’s proven strategies to work for you and enjoy meeting and exceeding your sales goals today!
Roseann Galvan is a workplace communications expert and the host of The Communications Czar Podcast. You can listen to the complete interview with Lynn Whitbeck of FutureForwardSales.com in the May 4th, 2021 episode of the podcast on Apple, Google, or Spotify or at www.CommunicationsCzar.com.