Selling Tips, Selling Skills

5 Sales Tips from a Coffee Pod Barista – The Science and Art of Selling

Because I spend my time with lots of salespeople out in the field, coaching and training them how to sell, my antennae never stop working when I am out and about shopping or buying products and services. I love to see the science and art of selling in action. I can spot a top notch sales person in an instance.

The Coffee Barista

One day, on my way to buy a new kitchen gadget, I came across a crowd gathering around a young lady with a beautiful coffee machine, talking about coffee pods. Apparently, the coffee pod is the freshest cup of coffee you are going to get from the designer coffee machine they were made for. The coffee pod is small. It’s clever and exclusive. You can only order these coffee pods on-line. Coffee pods were a whole new concept to me on this day. You could put your small pod into the machine and out pours a delicious fresh coffee with an aroma to send you into a sensory reverie.

My guess is this lady didn’t even know how gifted she was as a sales person. She was a natural and I guessed she had been product trained rather than taken a sales training course. But what she was doing worked quite beautifully in winning over her audience. She was the science and art of selling in action.

I watched her speak to the onlookers. I watched their faces as she used language, gestures and actions that crossed all the sensory barriers. She had us in in a sensory trance. She was so effective that you couldn’t but resist the notion of having one of these machines in your kitchen. She moved with grace and ease. She set the scene for us to want a coffee. She talked about the freshness of the roasted coffee. She made us the coffee with finesse and swiftness. We tasted the fresh coffee. She asked us how we liked it. She explored our love of coffee. She asked us again about our coffee-making experience at home. Answers varied from instant coffee, to perculators with filters to coffee pots on stoves. She asked us “was it as fresh as this?” She smiled, nodded and affirmed our experience.

She wrapped it all up by telling us how easy it was to get the coffee pods that were the freshest you could get straight to your kitchen. In essence, she created a luxury experience, right there and then that was almost irresistible. It was real and tangible and it made you really want to buy one of these coffee pod machines.

So where was the Science in Action?

The science is to be found in the steps taken in gathering interest from her audience, creating a sensory experience and then testing the buyer’s experience by asking for feedback on the experience. She created a want from a passing interest and turned that into a need through a sensory experience. She took the buyers all the way back home to their kitchen. She kept them inside the experience through great questions about our experience of the coffee, until we sufficiently locked into want to know more.

So where was the Art in Action?

The art was in her passion for the product. She spoke with enthusiasm. Her presentation was compelling. Her public speaking skills, of course, were elegant and refined. She explained in lovely simple ways how machine and pod worked. Her art was in the natural way she spoke, the language she used, how she paced the experience and built rapport with her audience. “How do you like the taste?” she asked. What a suggestion! Of course the smell is the most powerful scent of all, so the coffee created that experience that you would want in your kitchen every morning. She mirrored our coffee experience perfectly. The result, two coffee machine sold and customer for life. You can only buy the pods straight from the factory.

5 Sales Tips from a Coffee Pod Barista

  1. Activate as many of the senses around your product as you can; the images, sights, sounds and aromas; this increases your chances of closing the sale.
  2. Create an emotional bond between the buyer and what you offer by getting them to try it or imagine trying it. Every buying experience activates emotions. The sense of smell is the most powerful, hence the success of our coffee pod barista.
  3. Create the experience with the buyer and ask them to share it as a feedback exercise. This is a way of testing the level of desire for the product. If it’s not high enough, ask some more questions.
  4. Create a comparison scenario to create a contrast in the buyer’s mind between what they have and what could have.
  5. Work on your delivery skills and pay attention to the language you use. Is it enticing enough. Our coffee pod barista knew how to motivate her audience. Her communication skills and interpersonal skills were second to none. Work on yours.

I didn’t buy the coffee machine in the end. But I witnessed the science and art of selling in action. And the coffee was exceptional!


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Coaching – What does a coach actually do?

Working as a coach in Dublin for over 10 years, I am fully aware of how people create their own perceptions and maps of how the world is and what it means to them. Their perceptions are just that, subjective perceptions of external events, people and experiences. This holds true for coaching as for anything else.

I have often met some clients whose starting point is a perception that coaching can be, well slightly “fluffy.” If anything, entering a coaching programme can really challenge how you perceive yourself and your world around you. One of the creators of NLP , Richard Bandler often challenged his students to the ‘wheelbarrow test.’ If you cannot put something into a wheelbarrow it is not an object, it’s a nominalization. Let’s simplify this; it’s not the coaching that is “fluffy”, but the way in which a coach uses the tools and skills they apply when working with a client can be the challenge. So here are a few points to understand what working with a coach can do for you you.

What is coaching?

Many coaches specialize in a particular area of business or life, believing that this will allow them to apply their expertise to their client base. You will find life coaches, relationship coaches, executive coaches, business coaches, financial coaches, and the list goes on and on. The question I asked myself at one point in my coaching was.“ With expertise in one area, does it preclude a discussion of other areas because a coach is not an expert in that particular area?” The answer is ‘No.’


A coach is an expert in the skill of asking questions that change how you think about you

A coach is not always an expert in the content or subject  you have in mind, but may have extensive knowledge of business, finance or the area you want to be coached in. This is where I make the distinction between coaching and consulting. You can find a business consultant who may have limited skills as a coach, but knows plenty about how a business operates and what should be done to improve it. They can tell you how to make it work, but not necessarily how it will work for your style of thinking or modus operandus, when they are not around to support you. You may find a coach who has limited knowledge of the subject matter, but their skill in coaching can more than help you explore those areas extensively in a way a business consultant or subject matter expert cannot.

After some time, working as a coach in Ireland, I realised that you don’t have to be an expert in the subject matter to coach someone really well. The person being coached is already their own expert in their business and personal life. That doesn’t mean a coach should work without an appreciation for subject matters being discussed, whether you are talking about business plans, career change, business development or relationships.

Coaching is a Conversation

So now to demystify what a coach can actually do for you! Coaching is really about a conversation that gets to the heart of what’s going on inside you in at a contextual level. A coach should work in a very systematic way to help you get to a desired outcome. It is a conversation that explores and probes. It is not always about “goal-setting” and achieving per se. It can be, but it is always about a result and an outcome, whatever you decide it is that supports the goals you have set yourself. A great coach can get right into the heart of a conversation and unpack your thinking styles and reflect it to you in a way that gives you a better insight into yourself to generate the change you are looking for.

Coaching is about getting into your higher level of thinking, where you store your meanings and values. It is is about helping you explore how you think about what you think about, what motivates you, why you don’t do what you want, how you could do it and the action that can be taken to achieve it. It can also be about behaviour change, perception change or changing how you operate in the world. The possibilities are endless.

Coaching is about many different types of conversations

There seems to be a typical pattern to the type of conversation that can emerge as you work with a coaching, according to Michael Hall, a gifted trainer in the field. One of the most obvious ones is the clarity conversation. This is about getting clear on aspects of yourself that you were previously unaware of or needed more understanding on. There is the decision conversation, where you explore an aspect of your life or business and make a decision from the coaching session. There is the planning conversation which could be about career change following the clarity conversation about what really motivates you. There is the experiencing conversation, where you may wish to try out and practice internal resources needed to reach your goal, for example, confidence, conviction or assertiveness. Then there is the change conversation, where you want to work on changing aspects of your thinking to become a higher performer or to improve your social and emotional awareness of what is going on inside you. And for those who love a challenge, there is the confrontation conversation, where you can be coached on your blind spots and resistance to move forward.

Coaching is systematic and VERY structured

A quality coach should be able to track the many layers and patterns of your thinking and raise it to a whole new level of awareness about ‘how you think about what you focus on.’ A coach is an expert in the process of coaching to an outcome, using a range of quality tools. I happen to use a range of tools to uncover thinking styles and perceptions of experience, values and meanings. They help me to uncover the motivation to change, explore levels of performance operating and the blocks to higher performance. It is highly-systematic and when combined with a flexible style of coaching it can really transform how people perceive external events and behaviours.

Coaching is about asking questions that you don’t ask yourself

The greatest skill a coach needs is the ability to ask quality questions like nobody else. A quality coach should be able to ask you multiple-layered questions within one question, to activate you unconscious thinking. When done elegantly it can create moments of insight that wake you up to a new way of thinking and perceiving. At the heart of the questioning, a coach is helping you navigate your thinking, showing you how you think about what you think about and tracking your thinking and reflecting it back to you. A question asked in the right way can change a person’s perception for ever. I was coaching a client on career change when I asked them “What if the job you want hasn’t been invented yet?” That question cracked open their thinking to a whole new set of possibilities where they were not limited to the job out there, but could create the job from the inside out. Questions are powerful and even more powerful when somebody else asks you them.

Coaching is a process of reflection followed by action

Coaching is always about thinking things out in a way that makes progress and where you take action on what you have discussed with your coach. I have coached people on career change, business decisions, overcoming challenging experiences in their lives. I have helped them explore how they can improve their relationships with people, their business, their career, themselves, money or whatever is presented. I have coached them on changing self-belief and building confidence across many areas from work relationships to presentation skills and communication skills with those around them. It is always about exploring the inner game you play and you attend to that on the outside.

The coaching is the process. The subject matter may be life, business or relationships. They are all interconnected and cannot be coached in isolation, because they are all aspects of who you are. They may or may not emerge during a coaching conversation.

As you can see, there are many layers and aspects to doing this work. If you decide to hire a coach, you will discover much about yourself; your way of thinking, how your inner game plays itself out in the external world and how you can adjust it if you want a different picture.

Coaches are not experts in your life, business or relationships. Being human, of course they have experience and awareness of many areas of life. At the heart of coaching, the coach is an expert in the process of the conversation and can offer many levels of coaching, be it life coaching, business coaching, career coaching or executive coaching. For you, it’s about getting a quality outcome from a conversation that allows you to make change and get better results in your life. It’s about the coach facilitating a healthy exploration of the subject in the conversations and then probing the gap that exists between where you are and where you would like to be. This is a complex and highly-rewarding experience, and with the right coach, it can be the most enlightening, enjoyable conversation you will ever have about yourself.



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The Art of Public Speaking – How people create a fear of public speaking

The fear of public speaking is often quoted as the number one phobia ahead of the fear of dying. The question is “Why do people dread public speaking so much and what can they do to overcome it?

A phobia is a well-practiced state of fear. Like all skills, a phobia is a skill, albeit a very useless skill. It’s particularly useless when you have to stand in front of a room and give a presentation and look into a hundred pair of eyes and your body starts to go into an unwanted state of fear. This is the perfect occasion to use that phrase “It’s all in your head.” Speaking from my own past experience I remember going through this on numerous occasions before I stopped one day and wondered whether public speaking skills were skills I had not yet learned.

So if you are one of those with public speaking phobia, perhaps you have reached a point where you are asking yourself “How can I stop doing this and what causes me to do this?” A phobia is very simple and complex at the same time. Very simply, you are running a movie your run in your head that has layers of scripts and meanings about standing at the top of a room, while others watch and listen. The movie has sound, pictures and feelings built into those meanings. It’s the Neurosemantics of speaking and how you carry the meaning in your body. We all carry either healthy, empowering meanings or crazy, disempowering meanings in all situations in life. The key to unlocking them is to become aware of how you talk to yourself.

Every meaning you have about anything puts you in a state, where you have thoughts and feelings about something. In this incidence, you are thinking and feeling fearful thoughts about public speaking. The problem is how you are thinking and feeling and the meanings you are giving to i.t Like any habit, if you do it often enough, as you think of giving a PowerPoint presentation in public, you will trigger your brain into the public speaking phobia STATE or the fun STATE of sharing knowledge with others. Notice the two different meanings in each of these states? One empowers and one disables.

Anytime I work with people in helping them overcome their fear of public speaking, I hear the same story and script about how they “dread public speaking”. It is always pre-empted by “I know it’s stupid, but” followed by “it takes me back to that time when I was in school and my name was called out….” Perhaps this resonates with you.

Our mind-body system is great at storing all the experiences we have had, both good and not so pleasant. Then it keeps reminding us, in this instance, to “steer clear of that experience, because it’s dangerous.” This is never going to help you improve your public speaking skills. So stop right now and let’s see how are skilfully building your fear of public speaking. Then I am going to give you some tips on how to overcome it.

To get into your phobic state you have to think about what you fear

These are the typical fearful meanings I come across from clients: Fear of humiliation. Not knowing something. Losing face. Being looked at. All eyes on you. People judging you. Reliving a past unpleasant moment where you didn’t know something when you had to speak in public. Sounding stupid. Disliking silence or disliking the sound of your own voice. The list goes on. Your mind runs that movie and before you know it, you don’t want to go there and run through that awful experience in your mind. Of course, you don’t just do this awfulzing once. You do it over and over as you think about that important Powerpoint presentation that you have to give at your sales meeting or to your customers. I am not saying this isn’t real, because phobias are real to people.

Meanwhile the presentation you could be giving is lost to these irrational thoughts, based on your own internal judgements about other people’s judgements of you that you are making up anyway.

To create and build the phobic state you have to give yourself a phobic script

“What if I don’t know something? What if I sound stupid? What if I forget something? What if they think I am stupid? I am going to panic.“ To really take it up a notch, you have to use an internal tone that is pretty harsh ad critical or fearful. Most of these scripts are hypothetical meanings about an event that hasn’t happened. All this is doing is pulling you away from doing the right kind of preparation for your presentation. What you tell your brain is going to determine how successfully your present to your audience. So a healthy script is vital to your success.

To continue that phobic state you have to carry a posture of fear

So while you awfulize and run the horror movie of your presentation going badly wrong, your body takes on a posture of fear ready for the fight-or-flight scenario. You notice your voice and breathing change. Your body temperate may go up and you may notice a tremble.

It’s time to stop this and find more pleasant movies to run in your head. Ask yourself “Can I physically speak? Yes? Can I communicate? Yes? Can I put ideas into a logical sequence so others can understand it? Yes?” Then all you need is a better sequence in your mind to run a quality presentation when you are at the top of the room.

So are there any cures for the fear of public speaking?

The first cure is to understand what you are doing and recongize the symptoms as a call to stop and notice what you are doing, when you run the fear of public speaking. You are skilfully building a state of mind that wants to protect you from a perceived threat; possibly generated by memories of a one-time event where you felt fearful in front of an audience.

There are three steps to overcoming your phobia:

1. Manage your State

Manage your state of mind by doing 3 things after you have done your preparation and arranged your ideas. Visualize a positive result, where you see yourself, speaking calmly, sharing information, allowing the audience to make up their own minds about the information you are sharing. Tell yourself that this will go fine. Let go of the need to impress anybody and let them decide what the presentation is about for them.

2. Manage Your Meanings

The meaning of public speaking is the most important piece to practice. Give yourself some new meanings in your script, for example, “It’s just a conversation, where I am standing up and sharing information. People want to learn. They are only interested in the message. I allow myself to be seen and heard in public, knowing that everybody supports me. I know my subject. I’ve practiced it. I can relax. People will think what they think.” Coach yourself on your meanings and write down at least 5-10 healthy meanings you could give to public speaking. You will transform your presentation by that alone, if you do it on a consistent basis.

3. Take Command of your Presentations

The most important thing is to take command of your presentations. Here are 5 Ways to Improve Your Presentation Skills. Remember, you are in charge of the information, what you are going to say and how you are going to say, the speed at which you are going to say it. If you prepare well, then decide that you are only going to say 3 things. Imagine you are sharing those three pieces of information with the most supportive people you know. Set some frames around the presentation, why you are giving it and what you are going to talk about. To really get comfortable in the room, start with some story, question or some casual conversation with your audience, so it’s not the first time you are speaking. Most important of all, be present to yourself and your audience and enjoy the conversation that you are having while standing up. How’s that for a healthy meaning? Henry Ford often used to say “if you think you can or your think you can’t, you’re probably right.”


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Top Ten Factors In a Top Salesperson

1. Bring Passion to your Product and Business

Enthusiasm and passion are the elixirs of a successful life in sales. Passion for your products and the people who buy them will raise your game. There is nothing better than witnessing an authentic delight a sales person has for their product or company. It really sets them apart. I notice a difference in their way of engaging; they are curious, yet relaxed, because they embody the confidence they have in their product or service. They are also delightful people to deal with. Because they are passionate, they go the extra mile to learn and understand the value of their products and how to communicate that to their buyers. If you are not crazy about what you are selling, I suggest you find another one that you love selling.

2. Learn how Buying works in the Mind of Your Buyers

I’ve discovered in the past 20 years working in sales, that when a sales person understands the mind of their buyer and knows how to navigate through their thinking process, they can become excellent sales people. Their selling techniques become something else, they become buying indicators for them as to how interested the buyer is in purchasing the product. So the new way I am urging you to learn how to sell, is to learn how buyers buy and that’s about exploring the psychology of human behaviour .People behave in predictable ways when they are about to purchase a product, if you know how to steer through that, you will outsell your competition.

3. Know your Customers Better than You Know your Own Products

Have you ever been blinded by a product or service guru, who gives you all the information you are not seeking? I meet them every day in the work I do. They are so busy extolling the virtues of their product or company, they forget the buyer is not buying the company, but the value they can take with them long after the name and face of the sales person has been forgotten. Bite your tongue and resist your desire to talk about you, your product or what your company can do. Ask and listen to the reasons why your buyer is interested in your offering. Get to know them personally, their motivation, their interests and desires. If they feel you are interested in them, they are more likely to stay engaged in the interaction. Get to know them better than you know your own products.

4. Know your Product and Company like an Expert

This seems to contradict what I said in previous point It will show that you are deeply interested in understanding the company you work for and the solutions you offer. Even if you work in one section of your company, make a point of getting to know all aspects of the business and how they interact with each other. It will keep you mindful of cross-company opportunities the next time they arise. A sales person, who knows their company well, is ready for any client who throws tough questions at them.

5. Drop all the Tell- and-Sell and Learn How to Coach your Buyers

This has been my mantra in my sales training courses for a long time. Sell and tell is all about you, your product. Unfortunately the buyer is not interested. A buyer is only interested in how life and business will be better because of doing business with you and buying your products. So move from sell and tell to developing your skills in getting to know what motivates your buyer. The only way is to develop your coaching skills or questioning skills. Questions are powerful because they unlock the buyer’s decision-making process and coaching them along in the decision allows them to explore why they are buying. Simply consider this, who is going to make more progress, the sell-and-tell person or the salesperson asking quality questions.

6. Learn what Triggers the Idea of Value for your Buyers

If you asked all of your customers why they buy from you and what value you brought to them, you may find a different set of reasons among many. Some will see its value in terms of money they saved, others will see it as the convenience and ease of doing business, the experience of the service, the quality of your conversation, or how you made them feel and how you delivered the experience. Finding out what the product or service means to your buyer will point you towards their value triggers. For me, value is always about the personal experience I’ve had in dealing with the sales person and how I felt as a customer.

7. Build a Water-tight Case for Value

The expression used in legal profession, prima fascia means “at first face” or at first appearance. From the minute somebody meets you, you want give the impression that everything you offer is of value; from how you engage and create your sales conversations, build rapport with your prospects, how you speak about their business and what they are looking for and how you build the case for the prospect in making the decision to buy. When I say build a water-tight case for value, I am talking about using the skills of listening, questioning, framing and presenting in a way that fits exactly into how your buyer imaged the product or service would be within a price range they expected. To build your case, it is important to anticipate the dominant reasons they could say no to your offer and offer solutions around that. Often a case is built through questions that allow the buyer to explore their own reasons for buying the product in the first place.

8. Use Technology to Support your Business Development Activities

Even if you are of the old school and love the phone and meeting with clients, there is quite an amount of branding and prospecting you can do by using social media. The best tool out there for business developers, in my mind, is LinkedIn. It is rich in content, search functionality and it probably has data on many of the prospects you are looking to meet. To get the best from LinkedIn, take the time to build a complete profile, get your happy buyers to give you testimonials, answer industry-related questions posted in LinkedIn, join your industry groups, document the business books your read and connect into all your business contacts through LinkedIn. This is a great tool for building your profile as a sales professional to the wider business community. Over time, you will build a solid on-line business contact base that may bring you opportunities, when you least expect.

9. Learn how to Become a Top-class Presenter

A great salesperson can really enhance their selling skills by developing their presentation skills and know how to deliver a water-tight case for buying what they are selling. Top class presenters are great purposeful story-tellers, communicators and at a moment’s notice can put together a case for a buyer to commit, by blending questions, stories with a convincing value proposition. If you have neglected your presentation skills, take some time to invest in yourself and work on this non-stop. You can never be too good at public speaking. It may be the difference between you and a competitor.

10. Be a Life-long Learner

“Work harder on yourself than you do on your business” was the wise advice of Jim Rohn, a great business genius. He learned early on that if he continued to develop himself and read thousands of business books, he would eventually rise above the average sales people in his field. He was a life-long learner until his death at the age of 92. He built a huge business around his own personal development and made millions from it. Business is changing all the time and the more educated you are about what is going on, the higher your chance of success. The smartest business people are those that never stopped reading books after they left college.

If you have neglected this valuable habit as a sales professional in self-development, let me suggest you start with “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” by Steven Covey. The most valuable habit of the 7 for a sales person is to Sharpen the Saw. Keep improving on what you already are to become the best in your game. Then nobody can touch you.


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4 Mistakes Companies Makes When Hiring Sales People

Hiring the right sales people is all about understanding what selling is really about. There is no doubt that it helps to hire somebody who knows about your industry, but no amount of industry knowledge is going overcome inadequate selling skills or people skills.

Here are some of the reasons people hire the wrong people.

1. They believe a sales person must have industry knowledge

Think about your customer base? What are they buying? When people are buying your product or service, the chances are they have done their research and know what they are looking for. Insisting on detailing the ins-and-outs of how you are going to deliver it, connect it or the statistics on the speed of your technology, will dilute the opportunity you have to motivate your buyer to consider the value of your offering. People buy value and experiences. There is many a polite buyer who has sat through the sales presentations wondering, “When are they going to talk about me and what I need?”

Relationship and communication skills are at the heart of great selling. You may be missing out on good sales people by overlooking those who know how to sell, while selecting the CV with great industry knowledge and the weaker sales skills. Pick the sales performer and teach them about your products or industry. Selling is about people and the value they attribute to your offering. Hire a sales person who knows how to find value in what they sell, you will see their selling soar.

2. They believe high performers in a previous job will deliver immediate results

How many sales people have you seen crash and burn within six months of hiring them? They seemed to have all the right traits and selling skills, yet they don’t seem to be able to deliver on the job. What is very often missed is, even if a top sales person is hired into your sales team, they still need some coaching, guidance and education how you run your business and sell to your customers and how your solutions are purchased in your market. There are often high expectations set for new sales recruits in the first six months, which is often the relationship building phase.

Set realistic targets, even it’s it just over breakeven for the first six months. As long as they are actively building relationships, getting meetings and you see progress in their sales pipeline, you know they are on the right track. It is costly to hire somebody train them and then have to let them go. A few trial runs, where you go out with them to key customers will get them on track.

Everybody needs time to acclimatize. And when if it doesn’t work out, it is important to explore what both sides did or didn’t do to make it a success. It is too easy to blame the sales person, when the company could have done more to support them. An often over-looked problem is lack of a sales coaching and industry coaching. Make sure you do your part in supporting the sales person’s success.

3. They believe product experts make great sales people

Product experts are great to have out meeting customers, when you have to close the sale. The problem with product experts is they talk too much about the bells and whistles of the product. Meanwhile the buyer is wondering about the value he is getting from sitting through a product demo or a detailed work-flow plan.

If you do have product experts out selling, make sure they can answer the question without mentioning features and benefits of a product, “Why do people buy our product? What value does it bring them?” Deep down, people are not just buying the product, they are buying the intangible value they see that it will bring them. People do not buy the features of the flat-screen smart TV, they buy the experience they are going to have while watching it, as they visualise how it will look in their TV room and how it’s going to make them feel.

4. They believe great sales people make great sales managers

Transitioning from a sales role to sales management job requires training and conscious awareness of the difference between understanding selling and understanding people. Using the analogy of the star soccer player who retires from the game and moves into management, there are many stories of failed team managers who just didn’t have the core skills required to manage, motivate and inspire the football team. At the heart of sales management is an understanding of behaviour and how people are motivated or demotivated, coupled with the skills of communicating a vision, team building and coaching the team to excellence. When deciding who should manage a sales team, look closely at their people skills, communication skills and consider investing in some coaching or personal development training.

So what should you look for in hiring sales people?

If you are hiring sales people for your business, look for the strategic thinker with an ability navigate through the thinking of the buyers (mental skills), who can build great rapport and relationship (people skills), can get the balance between the big picture of business and the details of getting to the results in a consistent systematic way (project management skills).

During the interview, pay very close attention to their use of language and listening for their thinking style. A dazzling personality is a bonus, but personality does not maketh the salesperson. I am sure many sales managers who hired people they wished they hadn’t might agree with me. Great personality, but no substance, or all talk and no delivery. Let’s not be dazzled by personality, past results, industry knowledge alone. Start asking more questions when you hire sales people. Discover whether they have a flair for business and can demonstrate their business acumen. If they have that on top of the industry and product knowledge, you are on to a winner.

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5 Steps to Creating A Unique Selling Proposition

Consumers buy more than your products and services. They buy the rich meanings and value it can bring to their lives or their business. It is the meanings they give to your offering that activate their buying and gets them interested, engaged and motivated to take action.

In every interaction, you must be building value to entice your buyers to know more and engage more. You are in the business of creating value that a buyer can relate to. You have always been and always will be selling the value your customers attach to your product or service. People buy products and services because they enrich their lives or business in some way. They buy your offering because of how it makes them feel; empowered, relaxed, delighted, etc. It’s different for everybody. But VALUE is the driver at the heart of every purchase. Can you articulate the value your customers are buying from you?

I often get asked by companies to work with them on creating a value proposition so that their sales team can use it to strengthen their sales pitch and win more business. So here are 5 steps to “creating a unique selling proposition worth buying” that will help you in your sales activities.

1. Name the business you are in

You are in the results business. Name the business you are in by identifying what your business does for others. We are all in business to create results outside ourselves. If we do it well, the reward is we get paid well for it and customers come back. When the value is there, you can build business and a client base from it. Your business is an enabler in some way. What does your business do to enable others? You know you understand your business when you can name the business you are in. This can be identified by asking yourself, what do we improve or make better because we exist? How would we describe that?

2. Articulate exactly how you make a difference

There is an easy way to work this out. What can your clients not do that you can do for them faster, quicker or with more knowledge? Without you, what are they missing or unable to do? What would it cost them to develop your skills, products or services? So if you have that product or service that improves their business, then that is what difference does it make?
Is the difference about financial efficiency, experience, reputation, risk, expertise, enabling others in communication? Does your business enhance a customer experience, transform a business model, enhance performance for a group of people, protect a business, make communication easier, improve human capital, retain talent, create reputations or a business image? You are now digging into the real value around why your business exists, which you can bring to your sales conversations with your clients. Complete this sentence, “Our business makes a difference by…”

3. List three things about your business that are unique

What is unique about what your business offering does? Perhaps you have expertise or tools that efficiently eliminate a business problem or transform behaviours through technology or impact the way people communicate with others. The three ideas you come up with will form the foundation of your strategy when it comes to having meaningful conversations with your prospects and customers. Use the ideas around transforming a problem, taking a business or person to another level of performance, or designing a new way of operating. It will all depend on what you do in your industry and what makes you stand out.

4. Turn these three things into questions for your buyer

This is a mantra of mine; the best sales people ask questions. So what question would you ask your buyer around value that they can directly relate to your products? What is their business losing because they don’t have the right solution in place? What would change their life or business if they had that solution? An example may be around performance of a business – What could they add to their business by having__________ (fill in your unique difference). If you get into the habit of turning your value statements into questions, you build the foundations for high-quality sales conversations.

5. Share your unique value as a story of success

This is the Social Proof tool. Social Proof is term that is used in the book called Influence; The Psychology of Persuasion, where people assume the actions of others are the right behaviours that get results. So if somebody else is successful, they are an example that can spark a greater interested in a new prospect. An existing success story implies that the prospect can be successful to. People always want to eliminate risk. The Social Proof story facilitates that. It is far more powerful to tell a story of how a customer has been successful because of results you created, than to talk about your own success and achievements and what you might do out there in the future.

It is important to have a success story from your pool of happy clients to demonstrate your value as proven. You are showing how you have already created value and endorsing your offering though real proof. It is important to make your story relevant, tangible and real to the prospect.

Without a well-thought-out value proposition, you are forever suspended in the zone of talking about products, features and benefits. People always buy value. If you explore all of your own purchases, you may discover you bought them because they had a high-value meaning for you. How well can you articulate your value so that your prospects and clients listen?

If you would like to work on developing your Value proposition through a coaching or a sales training course, session, contact us.