A long time ago, in an office not so far away, I sold and consulted digital marketing and advertising services to local businesses.
Like anyone in a similar role, I experienced hot and cold streaks. During one such successful stretch, some coworkers asked me, rather incredulously (and not always so eloquently), “how are you selling so much digital?”
My honest reply was, “I don’t sell it.”
Selling has Evolved
The days of a seller strutting into a prospect’s office, belting out some embellished, reverse psychology-laden malarkey and expecting to get a signed deal are history. Sure, people have made that work, but salesy banter is hokey and most importantly, nobody likes just being sold to.
In other words, this old method is full of friction.
Whether B2C or B2B, selling someone this way isn’t effective anymore, largely because prospects are more informed than ever. Instead, they’re more receptive to you sharing your ideas. They want to rely on your expertise and industry knowledge. They want to get to know you. They want to trust you. They want to be helped.
Last month, we talked about digital selling, which has made this process much easier and more collaborative across all parties. That concept has opened the door for another idea on its coattails to emerge: frictionless selling.
What is this Frictionless Selling You Speak of?
The goal here is to literally reduce friction (and those awkward sales conversations) in favor of more helpful, engaging discourse. It’s not about selling – it’s more about helping. It’s sharing ways to solve problems together. Selling this way is convenient for all involved. Above all else, it’s vital to remember that it is the seller who must eliminate the possibility of friction from the start.
There are some different frameworks with varying levels of complexity out there for establishing this method in your organization, but essentially, it boils down to a few key points:
- Re-prioritize your sales teams – We all wear a lot of hats every day. But if you can emphasize more proactive tasks for your sales staff, it will allow them the flexibility to focus on what they should do best: client relationships. A good sales team should be full of people persons and allowing them to prioritize their relationships will beget success.
- Solve, don’t sell – Rather than just trying to close deals in a blaze of glory, it’s far better to focus on establishing strong relationships. Get to know people. This naturally segues into solving a problem or providing a good idea that never feels forced. No customer is the same – they all have different concerns, goals, budgets and needs in mind. If you’re just trying to get a signature, you’re being insensitive. Instead, be genuine. Customers can tell the difference.
- It’s all about empathy – Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Understand their pain points and match them with your solution(s). Actively listen. Getting to know your customers in ways beyond business jargon goes a long way in establishing a successful, trusting partnership.
Clear, consistent communication is key to any relationship, whether business or personal.
But you don’t want to fall into that deep, dark place where you’re only communicating with your customers when you have something to pitch.
Instead, suggest holding regular meetings, even just simple check-ins. These can be done weekly, bi-weekly, monthly – whatever works best for you both. This is a great way to provide regular updates and see how things are going in their world. It is also a natural segue for when you do have something to add to their investment, and it won’t feel like a typical upsell.
In general, selling can be a slippery slope if you’re only focusing on the deal. But when you empathize and understand your customers’ needs and communicate with them regularly to develop a comfortable, personable rapport, then you’re removing any chance for friction – and finding success in the process.