What Do Your Customers Buy From You? They Buy You

80% of selling is just showing up

If you are a professional who sells your services — to businesses or individuals — here’s a crucial lesson:

People are buying you.

It is your presence, how you come across, that makes the difference. Thus the most effective ways to sell are to get your face in front of them. Let me use myself as an example.

For me, this means speaking at business organizations, giving seminars or workshops, or meeting people one on one. Since I sell problem solving on their toughest business issues, I do problem solving with them. In this way, I give away samples of my product. They get to try it out right on the spot.

I love doing this while leading a seminar. My view is, it’s more important that I give them a chance to ask their questions than that I cover a set amount of material. I tell them this up front: “Ask your questions. See if you can stump the expert. You can read the book later.”

If one person in a group of small business owners asks a question, I know that ten others have the same question. So it’s a good use of time to answer it.

I always have a white board or flip chart and I scribble down ideas that come up, plus charts or squiggly pictures that illustrate it. At the end, I invite them to photograph it for themselves.

I’m demonstrating that I can understand their question and give useful feedback in bite-size pieces that they can grasp and apply. I stay away from buzzwords or academic theories. This is what they want from somebody like me.

Why does this work? This is what I do for a living. I love my work and I’m good at it. Rarely can they stump me.

I’m speaking to the one or few people in that room who are ready to work with me. I’m giving them a valuable sample of my expertise that entices them to want to work with me. The ones that give me their business card at the end are pre-qualified. When I follow up with them, I know I’m talking with somebody who would be a good client for me.

Now, that’s my style. Many people would rather get a root canal than do public speaking. You need to find the style of face-to-face interaction that works for you. But whatever your style, follow these guidelines:

  • If you are the product, polish your packaging.
  • Know what you are talking about. Be at ease. Be interested. Be helpful. Don’t be the preachy professor. Don’t be a glad-handing sales guy
  • If it doesn’t come second nature to you, practice in front of the mirror, or with friends. Don’t be canned; be spontaneous.
  • It’s more important that people leave the meeting with one good idea than that you cover a lot of information that demonstrates your expertise. They’re not looking for a college professor.
  • Look as good as you can. Appearances matter. Rule of thumb: Look one notch classier than your audience.
  • Give it away. Demonstrate that you can solve their problems. “The more you give away, the more you can sell.”
  • Make it easy and low-risk to do business with you. For example, half an hour free. Money back if you’re not happy. Introductory offer.

The key: Don’t give solutions; demonstrate the process. Many companies say they sell solutions. I think that’s pretentious, clichéd, and ineffective. If I tell somebody the solution to their problem (and believe me, I often know!) it is much less effective than if we do some problem solving together and they come to the solution themselves. As you go through the problem discussion with them, you can see the “aha” light up their eyes. That’s when you know you’ve done a good job.

The product you sell (and demonstrate) is not being a dispenser of canned solutions, but leading a process of discovery.

What if you can’t meet prospects in person? Face-to-face meetings have the most power, but you can approximate this during phone conversations, Skype video, even webinars or other interactive media. Ask yourself:

  • How much of YOU is in it?
  • How much can they interact with you?

More on this in a future article.

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