Sometimes you are "selling" even when no money is exchanged.
The concept of selling is not limited exclusively to a product or service. It also applies to the communication of ideas, concepts, desires and attitudes; in essence, persuading someone to "buy in" to your way of thinking.
You might sell your boss on the idea of promoting you, your spouse on the idea of making a major purchase or your kids on the idea of improving their grades.
At the core, selling is simply the effective communication of an idea.
Since we all communicate, it is possible to "sell" an idea to anyone.
As a sales professional, the procedure and skills you use to sell your product or service can also work in nonsales situations.
The following is an overview of the Seven Steps of the Track Selling SystemTM, the sales procedure I believe to be the most flexible communication process imaginable.
It can be applied to every aspect of life, whether you seek to "sell" in your career, romantic relationship, friendship, within your family, or an organization.
It's an invaluable procedure to utilize whenever you're persuading others.
Apply these seven steps and you can accomplish your communication objectives both professionally and personally.
- Approach: A person's first buying decision is about you personally. Do they like you? Are they comfortable with you? People buy because they like you. Therefore, it's in your best interest to reinforce this feeling for them positively.
- Qualification: This is the information-gathering period. You will decide if the person is someone you can sell to by asking open-ended questions to uncover their problems or needs. By listening, you will help them understand that you are honest, have integrity and are interested in the things that are important to them.
- Agreement on need: Next, you will summarize the information you gathered to clarify the facts and demonstrate your understanding of the person's unique needs. Showing that you understand is critical because people will buy from you not because they understand what you're selling -- but because you understand them.
- Sell yourself: Your prospect's second buying decision is about your history and your track record. Have you consistently operated with integrity? Have you demonstrated your capability to perform as promised with other ideas? Remind them of your past successes so they can feel confident about this buying decision.
- Fill the need: Present evidence of the effectiveness of your idea by showing your prospects how it fills their needs. Understand that this person's most pressing question is: "What will it do for me?" To effectively sell them, you must answer this question to their complete satisfaction.
- Act of commitment: The last buying decision is when to buy. Once you've shown there's no doubt that your idea will meet their needs, this is the time to ask for a commitment. Don't apply pressure, just remind them of the things you discussed -- they like and trust you, they have certain problems that your idea solves; therefore, can they think of any reason not to move forward with your idea?
- Cement the Sale: People buy emotionally and then justify their decision logically. In this final step, "cement" in the person's mind the logical reasons that made their purchasing decisions sound. The last thing you want is for them to regret the decision to trust you. Leave them with the comfort of knowing they made a wise decision.
As I mentioned before, using these seven steps can help you in every aspect of your life.
One of my distributor's sons recently graduated from Brigham Young University with the aspiration to begin a career in consulting. He submitted his resumé to Bain & Co., and out of a breathtaking 450 applicants, his resumé was one of seven chosen to interview for three open positions. Despite the daunting odds against him, he got the job.
His father and I taught him the principles of the seven steps that he utilized to distinguish himself from the competition and secure a position with the company.
A client of mine, the director of human resources at a major firm in Wichita, Kan., formerly held a position in business development for another company, where he learned Track Selling. After spending six months fighting with one of his new managers, I encouraged him to review the seven steps and to see where the disconnect with this co-worker might be. He reviewed the CD library used in the Track Selling System and realized he had skipped two vital steps.
While listening to the recording on approach and qualification, he realized he was not effectively communicating with her and, therefore, not "selling" himself. He then listened to the tape on the agreement on need, which underscored the importance of listening. In his next meeting with her, he applied the seven steps in order, paying particular attention to selling himself and especially to listening to her needs. Astonishingly, within 30 minutes, they had become great friends.
The seven steps, with a little tweaking, can also help you gauge your personal progress and keep to the goals you want to accomplish.
Once you do this process yourself, you will be in an advantageous position to set goals and reach them. I have done this throughout my career and personal life whenever I wanted to make a major change.
If things seemed out of alignment, I would write out the steps to assess my situation and clarify my goals.
First, I wrote out my lifetime goals. Then I wrote down shorter-cycle goals as they came to me. Then I would ask if I still wanted those goals. This corresponds to asking open-ended questions in the qualification step, to divulge particular needs and problems. I asked: "What do I like best or least about ... ?"and "Has anything changed?" Then, I wrote a summary of what I wanted and needed: "As I understand it now, I'm looking for ... ."
I wrote out what I had in my life at that time and then asked if the "product" (i.e., the circumstances in my life) still fit my specific goals. I would consider the challenges I faced, the things I had to endure and the things I had to sacrifice. These are the "price." If my goals had changed, I rewrote the agreement on need statement until I "agreed" with myself and was clear about my objectives. If the "product" of my life didn't fit my objectives, or if the "price" was too high, I would make adjustments.
This technique for assessing and clarifying the contents of your mind and heart, making them more conscious by writing them down, has been particularly valuable in my life.
Consider trying it not only in your sales career but whenever you come to major crossroads.
This process illustrates the ancient wisdom to "know thyself."
It allows you to center yourself -- establishing a springboard for achieving your goals and helping you gain broader perspective to assess the price you'll pay to reach your goals.
I believe selling to be the greatest profession in the world.
An effective sales procedure utilized by a true sales professional can lend insight and success into every aspect of your life in ways that you cannot imagine. What other profession contains more relevant principles and procedures from which to draw to improve the overall quality of your life and relationships? I've shown you the procedure now.
Try it for yourself and see what it does for you.
Roy Chitwood is an author, trainer and consultant in sales and sales management and is president of Max Sacks International, Seattle.