Amp Up Your Sales
Powerful Strategies That Move Customers to Make Fast, Favorable Decisions
Author: Andy Paul
Pub Date: November 2014
Print Edition: $17.95
Print ISBN: 9780814434871
Page Count: 240
Format: Paper or Softback
e-Book ISBN: 9780814434888
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What Is Selling?
THE MOST PRECISE definition of selling I’ve ever seen is from Jeff
Bezos, Amazon’s founder and CEO. In an interview with the Harvard
Business Review (January–February 2013), Bezos said, “We don’t make
money when we sell things. We make money when we help customers
make a purchase decision.”
What is your role as a seller? To be more precise, what is your primary
role as a salesperson in relation to your prospects and customers? Every
day, when you’re confronted with the importance of effectively interacting
with your customers, what mental image do you have of the primary task
you’re supposed to be accomplishing? Are you conscious of the role you’re
playing in the overall sales process?
Here’s the central challenge for salespeople today: You operate in a fastpaced,
information-driven, crazy-busy, increasingly competitive and interconnected
economy. As a result, you have fewer opportunities to meaningfully
engage with your prospects and customers before they make their purchase
decisions. This means you have to be more prepared than ever to provide
maximum value to your prospects during each precious interaction in the
Understanding selling is one of the core building blocks to increasing
your sales performance. It would be so easy to lightly skip past this step
and say to yourself:
“Of course, I know what selling is.”
Really? What is selling?
“Giving something to someone in exchange for money.”
“A product. Or a service.”
Why are you giving this to them?
“Because they asked for it.”
They just asked for your product or service, with no other questions?
“Well, sure, they had lots of questions.”
And . . .?
“Lots of questions. Way too many questions.”
Did you answer their questions?
“Of course, we did.”
Did you get their order?
“Of course we did.”
Could you have won the order without answering your customer’s
So what is selling?
At its most fundamental level, selling is simply an exchange of information
between the buyer and you, the seller. Selling is the process by which
customers provide you with information about their requirements, and, in
return, you provide them the necessary and relevant information about your
products and services that enables them to make a buying decision. The key
to consistent sales success resides in the process you execute to gather and
provide the necessary information the prospect requires to make a decision.
The simplest way for you to understand the nature of selling is to
remember that it has only two parts: questions and answers. Your
customer has requirements and questions. Selling is how you ask your
questions and how you provide the answers to your customer’s questions.
Those questions and answers will have the most decisive impact on your
ability to win the customer’s business.
If you noticed, I highlighted the word how in the last paragraph. In
fact, I am highlighting how throughout the rest of this chapter to make
certain that you clearly grasp and internalize this most important point
How you sell is more important than what you sell.
How you provide information to your customers to help them make a
decision will be more a decisive factor in winning the business than your
product’s features and benefits.
Here’s why: In a world where the unending cycle of technological innovation
and rapid globalization have dramatically reduced the barriers to
entry into new markets, it’s little surprise that the number of competitors
in nearly every category of product and service has exploded over the past
10 to 15 years. Combined with the growth and power of the Internet that
provides an often bewildering trove of information about all the competitors
to interested prospects, it’s little wonder that, in the eyes of buyers, all
suppliers seeking their business begin to look alike. The challenge for you
is to create meaningful differentiation that enables you to stand apart from
your competitors and to make it easier and faster for your prospects to
make an informed purchase decisions.
You’ll want to highlight the following sentence with a yellow marker so
that you can come back and review it time and again: Sustainable, repeatable
sales success is less about what you sell and more about how you sell. In
this case, how is not about style but about substance: how you follow up
sales leads, how you ask the questions that define the customer’s requirements,
how responsive you are to customer requests, how quickly and
completely you provide information and answers to your prospects.
This means that you have to maintain a laser focus on how you can be
completely responsive to a prospect or customer’s requirements for information.
A standard question salespeople are told to ask themselves is, “What
am I doing right now that is getting me closer to an order?” On the surface
it would seem to be a good question to ask. It puts the focus on the now and
places the priority on action. Unfortunately, it’s also completely backward. It
has the focus on the order rather than on the customer. One is the cart. The
other is the horse. It’s important that you understand which is which.
If the primary method by which you can differentiate yourself, your
offering, and your company is how you provide the value and information
that supports your customer’s efforts to make a purchase decision, then
the order will follow. An order is merely the outcome of selling, not the act
of selling itself. Therefore, the most important question all salespeople
should be asking themselves is, “What am I doing right now that is helping
my customer to make a purchase decision?”
I call this necessary focus on how you sell the good news/bad news
conundrum. Let’s start with the good news: Your success in selling today is
primarily based on how you sell, not what you sell. Just think how
liberating that is for you. When your ultimate success in sales is based on
how you sell, it means that all the tools you need to win are under your
direct control. Now it’s up to you how you provide the information that
helps your customers make a purchase decision, from the moment you
respond to a new lead to the moment you receive an order. This focus on
how eliminates nearly all the external dependencies that hampered your
selling in the past. This not just good news. This is great news!
Now the bad news: Your success in selling today is primarily based on
how you sell, not what you sell. That sounds just like the good news, right?
As I’ve mentioned, when the products and services of all sellers increasingly
look alike to customers, how you sell is more important than what you sell.
This puts you into what I call the No Excuses Sales Zone. If your success
depends on how you sell, and the how of how you sell is completely under
your control, then you have No Excuses for not achieving your sales goals.
You can’t point the finger at the lack of this feature or that benefit and say
that it’s holding you back. The how is up to you, and you have no excuses
for not using it to your competitive advantage.
I’ve worked with thousands of salespeople over the decades of my
career. Almost every one of them was sincere in their desire to become
successful in all phases of their chosen profession. Yet nearly all of them
lacked a clear vision and detailed understanding of what their sales role
entailed. By understanding what selling really is, as well as the importance
of how, you possess the foundation to build the skills necessary to take
your sales to the next level.
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