Whenever I deliver a presentation or a workshop to a group of business owners, I always like to start by asking the audience the first thing that comes to mind when they hear the word “sales” and I write their answers on a flip chart in the front of the room. I tell them not to hold back and share their thought whether it’s positive or negative. Typically, more than 80% of the answers I receive are negative words. “Pushy”, “used car salesman”, and “sleazy” are words I hear quite often. Is this really what a large majority of today’s business owners think and feel when they hear this word? Unfortunately, it seems so.
My theory on this is that many of us have been taught to “watch out for salespeople” and be “skeptical” when talking to one. We’re taught to believe that most of them will take advantage of us and if we appear weak and unprepared, will succeed in some devious plan.
And rightfully so!
There are a lot of scams out there and it’s easy to be fooled. In addition, the greed in this world is only getting worse and it seems like there are a select few that will do anything they can to get you to open up your wallet. Fortunately, I wholeheartedly believe there are more honest people than there are dishonest, but that doesn’t mean you should leave your guard down nor does it mean you should never trust anyone, either. Living in a world of distrust won’t get you very far and certainly will make doing business with others pretty miserable.
So what’s the solution?
Firstly, instead of thinking of your business as “selling” something to your customers, think of it as “serving” them. I have found that a lot of my clients that are in service-related industries (hairstylists, chiropractors, etc.) have a hard time accepting the fact that as business owners, they are in the business of selling. Even though you may not look at yourself as a salesperson, the fact is, that is exactly what you are! In order for your business to survive, you have to have sales and the only way for that to happen is for your customers to buy from you. I suggest changing your mindset from “selling” to your customers to thinking of it as providing exceptional service and exceptional value to those that you care about. This is still selling, but the idea and motive behind it is different than what most business owners associate the word “sales” as.
Secondly, you have to absolutely, positively, believe in the product or service you are providing your customers. You have to believe that when a customer gives you their hard-earned money, that what they receive in exchange will make a difference in their life, personally or professionally, or both. This may sound a bit “out there” but I encourage you to sit down and write down every area you can think of where your customer is personally or professional affected. Here’s an example: a hairstylist makes their client’s hair fit their personality and style. They trim, color and style it to bring out their client’s inner-self. The client goes home with a higher self-esteem and confidence level because they know they look their very best. If they feel good about themselves and they have a higher self-esteem as a result, they may start taking their job more seriously and have a more positive attitude at work. This may eventually lead to a promotion with higher pay, more time off, and being able to take more vacations with their family.
Do you see how powerful this exercise can be? And more importantly, are you starting to feel like your business serves a higher purpose than what you originally thought? The good new is, this exercise applies to all businesses, regardless of the industry they are in!
The word “sales” doesn’t have to be a dirty word. Change your mindset and the approach and attitude you have when working with your customers and you’ll start seeing immediate results. This powerful way of thinking will forever change the way you feel about your business — and the way you interact with those you care about: your customers.
© Kevin Wunderly 2013