Selling is often considered a “dirty word”. Nobody likes to feel sold to. People are sensitive to strong-arm tactics or having their head “talked off”.
However, the reality is that everyone is selling something. We actively sell ideas to our partners or colleagues, and even when we go for a job interview, we do our best to highlight our good points to encourage buy-in.
When it comes to selling, Matt Elwell, a powerhouse of wisdom and Director of Elite Closing Academy, springs to mind. By the end of this blog, you’ll have uncovered a key strategy to help you engage your potential customers and sell with greater ease.
Drop the sales pitch
Straight out of school, Matt became a door-to-door salesman, but, by his own admission, he had no skills and was pretty terrible at it. Matt quickly worked out that being able to “interact” (instead of delivering a sales pitch) was the most important skill he needed to develop.
He transitioned to selling photocopiers before quitting to join a family business; and then, after the loss of his beloved uncle almost a decade later, he realised his true calling: to change the way people around the world sell and close a deal.
I’ve endured many dodgy sales conversations. I wanted to know Matt’s thoughts on why selling (or being sold to) can feel so uncomfortable (you can hear our full conversation on the Goals Do Come True podcast).
Fear of rejection
Matt: “I used to watch lots of salespeople in the photocopying business, who had really good intentions, literally die inside when they tried to sell, because they had no skill. They were so scared of being rejected, they would procrastinate or hide behind their notes detailing previous objections.
They would conjure up all the objections that a potential customer might have and talk themselves out of even speaking to them. They’d expect the worst, and the more they did this, the more stuck and fearful they became. I knew I needed to come up with a process or formula to combat those hindering thoughts, because people instantly disengage when they sense fear or a rehearsed sales pitch.”
Matt’s awareness that fear and delivering a “one-size-fits-all” sales pitch was choking the process inspired him to design a better strategy. Instead of apologising for the interruption as soon as a prospect answered the phone (which is what his colleagues did), he chose to start with the “end in mind”.
He became clear on his intention and was honest with his prospects. Without trying to hard-sell his products, he used a diagnostic approach (just like a medical consultation) and asked questions to gauge the level of interest in what he had to offer. Then he was in a good position to assess whether his product was the right solution for the customer.
By feeling confident in his authority as a salesperson, Matt’s customers were willing to discuss their needs. Matt successfully made selling a two-way process.
Open with a close
Matt: “In my live training, I invite people to stand up if they like to be controlled; no one ever does. What do most salespeople do? They try to get you to say x, y, z, and to agree to what they want. It doesn’t feel good. You need to listen to the customer’s needs.
This is why ‘open with a close’ [being honest about why you’re calling and what you can offer] works; it’s the opposite of what everyone else does. Human beings love to buy, and you should be easy to buy from. Don’t make it complex.”
When Matt began to develop this awareness, he was in his early twenties and had enjoyed a glimmer of what his future could look like. However, the sudden loss of his uncle more than a decade later gave him absolute clarity.
The gift of grief
Matt: “I had the privilege of carrying his coffin. I remember thinking, ‘If this was me, what would my headstone say?’ and all I came up with was, ‘Here lies Matt Elwell, he didn’t add up to very much”, and I realised in that minute I had to sort myself out.”
Moments like Matt shared lead to goosebumps; they smack you into the realisation that you have a bigger gift to share with the world. Matt left the family business and listened to the voice inside him that was urging him to upskill and become a coach so he could share his mastery of the sales process. He had found a goal that resonated with him on a deep level.
In my experience, when you start moving towards a goal like this, doors open. If you’re just standing still, nothing happens. It’s a theory Matt subscribes to.
Think big and keep going
Matt: “You’ve got to have a super big goal and your brain has to be engaged and have a vision of the future or it won’t happen. Every single time I have a clear vision, I achieve my goal.”
Matt is also highly aware of the potential for fear to sabotage the achievement of a goal (just like it interfered with those sales calls!).
Matt: “When I worked in the family business, my brother and I decided to buy a piece of land so that we could build a warehouse instead of paying rent for one that was too small. We were on the mountaintop [metaphorically speaking] and could see the promised land [business growth] but my dad could only look up at the mountain and see dark clouds [fear of failure].
At the time, I could hardly find anyone who would support our way of thinking. People would try to inject a whole load of fear into us, so my number one piece of advice is to think big, keep going and find the right support. You need to have a vision and start with the end in mind [just as you open with a close] and work backwards to make it happen.”
Find your people
Matt’s reference to a lack of support for his goals is a common issue most people bump up against. If you have a scrap of uncertainty in your own mind, other people pick up on it and it fuels your doubt (which often results in inaction).
I love to champion people’s big dreams – having the right support can be the difference between making your dream come true and confining it to a daydream. Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org; and if you’d love to learn more about Matt’s successful sales strategy, check out his book.