We all deal with sales people trying to sell you something that is readily available at any other provider, but positioning themselves as offering a different value proposition. We all need that defining sweet spot of what makes your product different and how you will sell yourself as well.
It’s an ongoing battle of who gets there first, who is the best and lately the cheapest. Just look at the Tech world for instance when it comes to mobile phones that are released. They are all more or less the same, offer the same specifications and there manufacturers even take each other to court for copyright infringements that are so trivial, it will make your head swell. The fact remains, they each claim to offer something different and better. Their message is often the thing that hooks the consumer.
Authenticity, reliability and Honesty is the key to your success and it will be the thing that sets you apart from the rest. Consumers big and small are way more informed than in the past and authenticity sets the cornerstone of any trust relationship and that is of vital importance. In some industries it is the thing that either makes or breaks you. Just look at the impact the Oscars mistake of 2017 made on the auditing company that was responsible for the checks and balances before names were printed on the cards.
I took the liberty to pick my favorite sales lessons over the years that I got from my large and small competitors out there when it comes to what they are doing right and wrong. Authenticity, reliability and honesty were always the things that stood out for me.
I have learned that it is not all about the product that I am trying to sell. I can dress myself in the newest suit and have my latest MacBook on standby, but who am I? What am I as a brand? By cladding myself in the most desirable items does not mean I am the representing a product or service that is the best.
No in essence it means I am just like the rest of the people trying to get their business going. In my early days of selling business was hard and I was only interested in making a sale, not caring about the client. I couldn’t understand why I was battling though, because I was looking the part, talked the part and thinking the part of what I thought everyone expected from me. I had to take a long hard look in the mirror and decide on a way forward. It took self-interrogation and guts to face the reality.
I asked myself, ‘what makes me different?’. I wondered if I was truly authentic in all my actions. Do my products confirm what I say and was I portraying myself as I should? I asked this because I wasn’t sure if my approach, my message and the product was integrated and illustrated either desperation or contradiction as opposed to the value it offered.
I had to step out of the main stream and focus on my product and how I positioned myself as well as my products to prospective clients. I made some fundamental changes to my business that demonstrated reliability and Trust. I had to stop copying industry selling techniques and rather formulate something that was my own.
It included small things like taking calls after hours, doing more than what was necessary when it came to after sales support and by building long term relationships as opposed to a sole focus on closing a sale no matter what. Apart from being authentic there is a saying that goes as follows: Honesty is the Best Policy. This is something that we all believe we live by but in today’s world we are sometimes not able to.
This is because to be honest could potentially damage our reputation. As good as your intentions are, it is often best not say anything at all. Being Honest is just as valued in today’s business world as being Authentic. Being honest does not make me a bad sales person or a bad person. I had to get myself around a tight bend to admit that my products did not always meet my client’s requirements.
After years of success I realized that it is time to get back to basics. I re-positioned myself as a straight talker and an adapter. Before long people started trusting my message and they even referred other businesses to me. Finally, I wasn’t just in the door, but other doors started to open up for me. If I was merely honest in the beginning about the features, benefits and imitations of my product, I wouldn’t have wasted my time or that of my prospective client.
Fortunately, after applying myself differently for a while it didn’t take long for me to also grow myself and I was able to identify new business opportunities through my honest engagements with clients.
They trusted me enough by letting me know how their businesses changed and how they needed alternative solutions in addition to my existing ones. Not only did this allow me to grow and expand, but I was helping them remain sustainable and it made both of us business relevant. To this day, I stand by this motto, ‘just because honesty is harder doesn’t mean it isn’t worth it’.
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