The truly universal concepts of selling

As a recent grad of Columbia Business School, one of my favorite classes was Entrepreneurial Selling. The concept behind the class was that the fundamentals of a good sales strategy are applicable not only in sales but in all areas of business.

Honestly, it’s true! Think about it….how many times a day do you try to get buy in for a project you are working on? try to convince someone to join your company? or just try to get your significant other to go out to dinner? No matter your job, throughout the day you are “selling”.

Then why are we so bad at it?

Think about your conversation with any sales rep. Far too often, they stick to a script and leave you feeling frustrated or not heard. While they are prepared and know their facts, they are usually completely ineffective.

Why? Simply, because their scripted sales strategy it isn’t flexible and consultative. Too often when we are trying to sell something or convince someone of our ideas, we just stick to the script we have prepared in our heads. We don’t think about what the other person wants. Just the end goal and proving that we are right.

Instead of pushing a solution and its benefits, selling should be more about problem solving. Effective selling and problem solving are surprisingly similar.

Instead of jumping straight to a recommendation or solution, highlighting the benefits, bells and whistles stop and ask yourself: do I know what the needs are that I am solving for? Did I listen to the business problem the other person is trying to solve?

By asking for and receiving clarification around the needs/issues at hand, you can better tailor your recommendations. You can highlight the right features first, offer relevant case studies, or even identify early on that your solution might not be a good fit.

The more you become consultative instead of prescriptive in your selling, the more effective you will be more and the more likely you will be to “close the deal”.