If you've been looking to improve sales with a secret sauce that can help you sell more without coming across as salesy, here it is!
It comes from starting every conversation with a new contact or prospective client just like the best salespeople do - with a great answer to the question: “What do you do?”.
How do you answer that question?
If you are like most people, you would probably tell them a bit about your past successes. Or perhaps how you got to where you are today, and what your current job title or situation is.
If you’re like most business owners, you may well share with them what’s great about your company and how long you’ve been in business, before going on tell them about your unique set of products or services and how amazing they are.
These are of course all legitimate answers but they are not very engaging, nor do they tell the person what they really want to know.
The best salespeople, however, answer the real question being asked!
What is really being asked is:
“What can you do to improve my life going forward?”
In asking 'What do you do?' the person is really asking 'What are the benefits of working with you?'.
Sales expert, and author of one of my favourite books on sales and communication, The Jelly Effect: How to Make Your Communication Stick, Andy Bounds, calls this the ‘Afters’; how the person’s life or business will be better After working with you or buying from you.
Knowing this will allow you to create a very different, and far more engaging answer to this question. It's likely to gain follow up questions that will take you much closer to some interesting sales and referrals too.
Theodore Levitt, the celebrated economist, Harvard Business School professor and author of the classic Marketing text Marketing Imagination, gave a great example. He famously explained that people don’t buy a ¼ inch drill because they want a ¼ inch drill; they buy it because they want a ¼ inch hole! Don’t sell drills, sell holes!
If you are a Tax Advisor – you’d sell how you help your clients have less stress and pay less tax.
If you are a personal trainer – you’d sell that feeling of having a strong, fit body, not the boot camp they will have to endure for months first.
Airlines do this when they sell stunning locations and memorable holidays - when what they are actually selling are hours of queues and sitting in cramped seats inside a metal tube!
See the difference?
'Afters' + 'Most People' = Sales Magic
Another sales expert I've had the privilege of working with is Phil M. Jones, author of Exactly What to Say: The Magic Words for Influence and Impact.
In this book, he shares some amazing Magic Words that you can weave easily into your conversations to gain more sales. One of these words is 'Most People', explaining that most people like to be like Most People, this tells their subconscious mind that you are in fact talking about them.
Combine Andy’s concept of ‘Afters’ with ‘most people’ and you have a powerful combination. Here's an example of how it might work...
“What do you do?”
“Well you know how most people today don’t feel secure about the future and often stay in jobs they hate for too long?” (“Yes.”)
“…well that’s what I do, I help people earn a part-time income through a successful home business giving them that extra security. Often the people I work with find that in time their part-time income overtakes their full-time income, giving them more time freedom and a job they love.”
Doesn’t that sound more exciting than: 'Home Business Success Coach'? Or even my longer response: “I’ve been working in communication, marketing and leadership for more than 25 years. Then three years ago I set up my own wellness business, which has enabled me to bring all this experience together. Today I enjoy helping people around the world start their own thriving business in my industry.” Accurate, but a bit on the dull side.
For the wellness side of my business, I might say something like:
“You know how most people today are looking for help to look and feel better?” (“Yes!”)
“Well, that’s what I do. I help people get their healthy habits back on track through some wonderful aloe vera based health and nutrition products. As a result, they can regain their energy, health and confidence – and feel motivated to keep it up.”
Do you see how it answers the question, but in a way that is clear, engaging and prompts the person to follow up with questions about 'How'?
Try it out for your business! Fill in the blanks below...
“You know how most people [add in the biggest and most common pain point that your target customers have]?”
“Well that’s what I do. I [add in your ‘Afters’]”
How to uncover a customer’s desired ‘Afters’
The more you know about your audience, the more you can offer ‘After’s’ that will appeal to them.
The best ways find out more about them are to do your homework and to ask.
Use a few questions to find out more about what they are looking to achieve, what their objectives are, what keeps them up at night, how they would like the future to be different and so on. You’re trying to uncover problems they have that you can help with.
You may find that you can do some research ahead of time to reveal some potential pain points; social media is a great resource for this.
What to do After you’ve shared your Afters
The most logical follow-on to this style of response is a question (probably several) about How you offer this solution.
This gives you permission to talk more about your company, products and solutions. Make sure you are prepared for this with lots of short, simple and engaging points that you offer one by one. This will allow the questioner to lead you.
The best way to share your ‘How’ is by sharing stories of how you’ve helped people with similar ambitions or situations to your questioner.
People are always happy to listen to stories and they usually remember them too. Stories are engaging and a wonderful way of differentiating yourself from the competition, since most people simply share facts and dry information.
Facts Tell, Stories Sell!
Finally, finish with an invitation to discuss how you can help them in the future. This is when you’ll start to map out with them how you can get them from where they are now, to where they want to be in the future.
If it’s not appropriate to discuss this at the time of the conversation, arrange a time to meet over coffee or more formally in the coming week.
So there it is - your secret sauce!
Tried these tips? What works for you?
I'd love to hear your 'afters'! Share your tips and experiences in the comments below!
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