A couple of years ago my family and I were on Crete, that beautiful Greek island with a lot of sun, water, delicious tasting food, interesting old building and fantastic music. It was really a good trip and we enjoyed our stay there.
However, among all the fantastic experiences I still remember one experience which none of us liked.
You see, one evening we decided to take a walk in the old part of the local town, called Chania. There's a lovely, old harbour there, and the sun was playing beautifully in the sea while the local people were playing on instruments and singing. It was such a beautiful sight and experience.
There was only one annoying problem: As we walked along the beautiful old harbour line, we were constantly addressed by dozens of salespersons, trying to sell us a meal at their restaurant. Politely we thanked 'no' again and again. Many of the restaurants looked really nice. But we just didn't wanted to pushed that much. We didn't wanted to be pressured by others into buying their food.
It wasn't that much of a problem. We understood that these salespersons had to compete against each other in order to get their share of the potential customers. And I know that it could just as easily have happened at home where I live. But it got quite annoying after some time.
By the way, you know what?
A rather funny thing happened. After we had passed the last restaurant at the harbour, we turned left and followed some of the small, old streets. And there, at a safe distance from all the eager salespersons, we found a really idyllic and nice little restaurant with open air service and live music. The food was delicious and very affordable. There was no pushy salesperson outside the restaurant. We simply got attracted to the restaurant when we sensed the cosy atmosphere inside. That was where we decided to eat dinner, and we didn't regret it.
You've probably had a similar experience. Someone tried to pressure into buying something. Maybe it was a tele-marketer who called you in the middle your family dinner. Or it was a car salesman. Or an eager realtor.
Did all the pressure and the salesperson's attempt to persuade you to buy actually persuade you into buying?
The salesperson tried too hard to sell you his or her product or service. You clearly sensed that all the nice manners, the hyped descriptions and flatter only had one purpose: To earn the salesperson some money - your money. You were only a means on his or her way towards earning more money. You could almost the dollar signs in his or her eyes.
GETTING MORE CUSTOMERS
As you probably know, one of the most pressing issues for many business owners is to find more customers. Most business owners constantly try to get more, new customers.
Often it's a better idea to try to sell more to your existing customers. But still, you also need to get more customers to your business.
But just how do you do that?
If you've read some of the most popular books on sales, you'll notice that practically all of them tell you to try to PERSUADE people into buying your products or your services. Some books and sales experts try to disguise this fact by preferring to call their method for 'Consultative Selling'. But when all comes to all even these experts tell you to try to persuade your customers to buy whatever you offer.
My point here is that this is wrong. It's bad advice, and this advice is responsible for countless of businesses going bankrupt.
Allow me to share my personal experience with you here...
I WENT FROM DOOR-TO-DOOR
I still remember some of the advice I got when I first started in personal selling. I sold encyclopaedias and children's books going from door to door. Actually, I was quite good at doing it. But if you haven't tried that, you can't imagine just how tough it can be. Consequently I did everything I could to learn more about how to sell from door-to-door.
I vividly recall a story I read in a sales book about a salesperson who were so persistent that the customer finally, physically threw him out of the house. As the salesperson lays there on the ground, hurting all over from the wounds he's gotten after being thrown out, with great difficulty he asks the angry person he's tried to sell to: "Will you now buy my product?" The customer is so surprised by the salesperson's persistence that he exhausted and out of pure compassion finally says, "Okay then! But only on the condition that you promise never to bother me again."
Some people still seem to have the same idea.
A TOUGH JOB
If you've ever tried to persuade other people to buy your product or service, you also know that this can be one of the most discouraging and difficult things to try to do as a business owner.
In fact, this way of trying to get business by trying to persuade other people, is one of the factors that causes most business owners to dislike, yes even hate, the process of marketing and selling.
It's very tough to try to convince other people to buy from you - especially if it's against their will. After all, if you try to persuade someone to buy from you, you try to cause that person to do something. And usually there's always some kind of pressure involved in this process.
However, I cannot emphasize this strongly enough: Don't try to persuade your customers!
But what do you do then?
The answer is: Find people who are already interested in what you can offer them.
This is much, much easier than to try to persuade people who are not interested into becoming your customers.
You see, there are three different kinds of people:
1) People who are interested in what you can offer them.
2) People who'd maybe consider buying it - but who haven't shown any interest in your offer.
3) People who'd never, ever even dream of buying your offer.
The mistake most business owners and hopeful sales people make is that they try to persuade all three of these groups into buying from them. Not just the first group, but also the second and the third group.
If, instead, these hopeful and dreaming business owners and sales people would leave groups two and three and primarily focus on the first group, they'd turn their whole business around.
* They wouldn't dread finding new prospects for their business.
* They wouldn't dread cold-calling, because they didn't have to do it.
* They would have a much better thriving business.
* They would have more time to focus on other important aspects in their business.
* Their customers would be much easier to do business with.
Believe me, I'm not exaggerating anything here. This is the difference it would make if you made this change in your business.
YOUR GUEST IN THE AIRPORT
Let me share an illustration with you: Finding customers for your business is very much like finding a visitor and guest in an airport. Let's say you've arranged to pick up your guest in the airport.
There's just one problem: You don't know what he or she looks like.
So you have to ask. It might seem a bit embarrassing to ask all those persons. But if you constant keep in mind that you'll probably soon find your guest, you'll keep your motivation high.
Now, imagine you go to person standing in the airport and ask her if she's Anderson who's going to visit you and your family. The person shakes his head and politely says, "No! I'm sorry, but that's not me." Do you try to persuade that person, then, to be the Anderson you're looking for? Of course not! (Quite a comical idea, don't you think?
What do you do then?
You thank the person for answering your question and go to the next person. The next person you ask seems rather annoyed by your question and angrily says, "No! Absolutely not! Leave me in peace!"
Do you try to persuade him to be the Anderson you're looking for? Again, of course NOT! You'd never dream of doing that.
Instead, you politely apologize to the rude person for annoying him, and you go on asking the people there in the airport. And then suddenly one of the people there says, "Oh yes! That's me! How good to finally meet you!" You've found your guest.
Basically your situation as a business owner is the same. Of course there are some outer differences, but basically there are many similarities between the situation in the airport and your business.
If you want to get as many high-quality customers as possible for your business, then do this: Don't try to persuade people who won't buy from you anyway. Instead, find the people who ARE interested in your offer. Or even better, let them find you. It IS possible.
This is good news - both for you and for your customers.
Because it takes a heavy burden off your shoulder. And your customers will love you for it. Because, people love to buy, but they hate to being sold to.
GIVE TO GET
The fact is that most salespersons try to persuade other people to buy something, is a major reason why they don't want to buy from you. No one wants to be pressured into buying something. People want to decide for themselves whether they'll buy or not.
You can help them to accomplish that by...
* making it easy for them to find you
* really listening to them and their wants
* helping them get rid of problems and pains
* helping them to reach their dreams
In short, you do this by serving your customer. By being customer-driven.
And by helping your customers to accomplish their goals, you reach your own.
DON'T GIVE UP!
Now, I know that in theory this sounds great. But in real life it's not always that easy. I for one will be the first to admit that I personally don't always live up to that standard, even though I'd like to. And you'll probably have to say the same. But don't let that discourage you. Just give it a try. And if you fail, try again - over and over. Over time you'll become better and better at doing it, and you'll see a lot of results. I promise you!
Finally, I'll be glad to hear your comments on what I've just said. Share you opinions and your questions with me!
(c) 2005 Klaus Dahl - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
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