You’re so Vain, I Bet You Think That Sales Is About You

(It’s Not)

Mindy Crary

Do you freeze up when you get into a “selling” situation?

Do you suddenly get a knot of fear in your stomach, your heart gets fluttery, and you can’t quite catch your breath?  

That, my friends, is fear.  But what are you actually afraid of? Most people would say they’re afraid that the other person will say no, but I don’t think that’s actually it.

It’s not so much fear that you won’t make the sale, it’s fear that the other person will reject you.  Personally.

I know, it’s easy for me to sit here and say that rejection (or acceptance!) in a sales process isn’t about you — because it can certainly feel personal if you don’t have the right mindset.

But the truth is, sales isn’t about you.

By the time you’re actually on the phone with somebody, your credibility is no longer in question; you’ve already established that you are the expert.

It’s not about your credibility.

I think one of the biggest things we fear as small business owners is that we won’t appear credible.  We want to be taken seriously.  We want to play with the big boys and girls.

Secretly, we fear that we really aren’t credible (that old imposter syndrome rearing it’s ugly head) and so we become afraid that if someone says no in a sales situation it’s just going to confirm our deepest darkest fears.

But your credibility isn’t the most important part of a sales conversation.

Why?  Your credibility has already been factored in based on the data the person is gathering about you as they come to your website. By the time you’re actually on the phone with somebody, your credibility is no longer in question; you’ve already established that you are the expert.

Therefore, one of the biggest mistakes I see people make is when they get on a sales call and then try to position themselves as the expert.

“So what’s wrong with that?” you ask. Well, potentially what could be wrong with that is that you might start speaking to — and solving — the issues that they’re raising.

For example, as a financial planner, somebody might say, “Well, I’m not sure of the best way to pay off this debt.” Of course, I already know the best way to pay off that debt. I know that without even charging somebody what the best way to pay off debt is.

However, I’m not there to solve problems; I’m there to explain my process to them and make sure that they are in alignment with how I do things and my philosophy.

When a service provider doesn’t feel confident, the tendency is to jump in and start to try to solve the problems that the prospect is raising. But guess what: they haven’t hired you yet! So you’re actually reducing their urgency to solve that problem by giving them solutions.

It’s not about your personality.

This might be surprising; people don’t actually care how different you are…they care about how different your service or product is. My business is a perfect example of this.

I am a financial planner, but I’m a financial planner who doesn’t sell products…I literally sell NOTHING except my advice. This is unusual in my industry.  So the average financial planner who does sell products and have asset management — which is the norm — their average client acquisition is 12 clients a year.

Whether you offer a service or a physical product, what closes the sale is how well you can explain and demonstrate your unique way of achieving the customer’s goals.

Now I, on the other hand, get on average 150 clients a year. So when I talk to traditional planners and they’re saying, “How do you make a living?” I’m like, “Well, I actually make a great living, because more people are interested in me because I do things so differently.”

The difference in my service cuts through that noise and so I stand out because I’m the only one not selling any asset management or products. People don’t care about how nice I am, how down-to-earth I am. Those might be advantages when they get on the phone with me and they actually like who I am as a person, but they wouldn’t be getting on the phone with me unless I had a significant differentiation point in the service I provide.

It’s about the process (and the results).

Alright, so since sales isn’t about you, what is it about?

It’s about your process or system — the unique and different way that you get results for your clients.  It’s about your unique client experience.

Whether you offer a service or a physical product, what closes the sale is how well you can explain and demonstrate your unique way of achieving the customer’s goals.

For a coach or service provider, it might be the process or system you walk clients through to achieve an outcome.  For a product, it’s the way your product meets a need that other competitors don’t.  

Therefore you need to shift the conversation from you to the process — and explaining how, because you are so different from the norm, it will get them better results. This is why you need to get super-clear on why people are coming to you instead of somebody else.

I always say I’m not a unique special butterfly… okay, in some ways I am, but in the world of sales, you don’t need a unique sales process; you need a unique client experience.  

And so for that reason, when you’re having sales conversations, you have to be focused on the client experience and how you’re going to meet their needs differently than any other product or service.

Therefore you need to shift the conversation from you to the process — and explaining how, because you are so different from the norm, it will get them better results.

This is sometimes called your unique selling proposition (USP), and to get really clear on what yours is, ask yourself these questions:

  • What makes your product or service different from others in your field?
  • Why do people choose you over your competitors?
  • What do you disagree with that others in your industry do? (This is often a great indicator of your USP.)

For example, I know a relationship coach who doesn’t work on a “therapy” model.  She only offers a package of 8 sessions, and she goes through a very specific coaching process in those sessions. Unlike a therapist who might see you once a week for forever, she wants to emphasize making decisions and making change, so she keeps her coaching relatively short.

That’s a great USP that differentiates her from the competition, and so that is what she needs to focus on in her sales conversations, whether they take place in person or online.

Because as sweet and bubbly as she may be, as good a coach as I know she is — none of that matters in the sales conversation.  What matters is her process, and that’s what will close the sale.

What’s your USP?  I’d be interested to hear about it and how you plan to focus on it in your sales conversations going forward.

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ABOUT MINDY CRARY

If you want to work on your sales process, check out Mindy’s excellent (and FREE) ebook Create Your Own Sales System. Mindy Crary, MBA, CFP® is a QPS Strategist and a personal finance expert who helps both you AND your money succeed. From growing your wealth to the actual person behind it, Mindy bridges the gap between the energetic, spiritual and practical with a creative twist.

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