Do the brakes work?

Imagine that you are thinking of buying a new car and visit your local car showroom. The salesperson approaches and you ask a couple of questions about the model you’re interested in:

Does it have four wheels?

Do the brakes work?

Stupid right?

Because products or services we are thinking of purchasing have certain intrinsic benefits that are a given. I am an accountant so you wouldn’t need to ask me if I prepare accounts and file tax returns. When a prospect talks to an accountant they belief the accountant can do their year-end accounts and save them tax. If you are thinking of changing your accountant – or car – there are far more important things you want to know.

The accountant’s sales process should be built around developing a relationship and trust – the technical solutions only come later.

This is why I am often amazed at the number of business owners who tell me they are no good at selling.

Whether you know it or not if you run your own business then selling is what you do. Every time you speak to a prospect you are selling, because having a conversation is about building relationships, fact-finding what they want to achieve and building trust that your product or service can help them.

So where did we get the impression that selling is about fast talking, pushy, slick salesmen trying to sell us something we don’t want? Why do so many business owners think they are no good at selling?

It was Henry Ford who said “If you think you can or you think you can’t – you’re right. But as a business owner, selling is something you have to believe you can do and be good at.

So forget everything you thought you knew about selling – and pushy salesmen – and change the way you think.

Consider for a moment if you thought: My product or service will help [prospect] solve their problem/give them pleasure/remove their pain. I am passionate about what I have created and what it can do for people and I have a responsibility to share what it can do for them.

Not pushy, no hard-sell, just letting them know you can help. Send a loud and clear message of the exact opposite of this stereotype. So if you are selling a service, here’s the way you should think: I’m a professional with high ethics, I’m transparent and honest, so let’s see if we can get to an agreement that works for both of us. And believe me – if this doesn’t work for both of us I’ll say so.

And here’s the process you should follow:

  1. An initial brief telephone call: we don’t work with everyone so I’d like to get to understand your situation, see if I can help you and whether we’re a fit for each other. We just need about 15-20 minutes on a video call. I’ll email you a few questions to answer before the call which will add value to our conversation.
  2. A video call, using Zoom, or similar: this part of the process is to perform a diagnostic of the prospect’s situation and challenges preventing them getting where they want to be. You also need to know why they are unhappy with their current provider if they have one. If you feel you have a fit and can help them then you’ll say something like “the challenges you mentioned are exactly the things I help my clients with so let’s arrange a date and time to meet up so I can go into detail about how I can help you”.
  3. Face to face meeting: at this point the prospect is thinking “Do I trust you? Can I trust my affairs – and my business – with you? Although you’ll be discussing how you’ll work together remember that these are the questions in the prospects mind.

Selling is a key business function business owners must get good at if they are to succeed; if your current limiting belief is that you aren’t good at selling it’s time to change your thinking.

To your success
​​​​​​
Noel Guilford

Noel Guilford, Principal at Guilford Accounting
Noel Guilford is the principal of Guilford Accounting a small business accountancy practice specialising in advising owner-managed businesses on current accounting, finance, and tax matters. You can reach him via email at noel@guilfordaccounting.co.uk or by phone at 01244 660866. He is the author of the 'Figure it out - an entrepreneurs guide to understanding your business numbers' which you can obtain by visiting guilfordaccounting.co.uk.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ His latest book, How to Build a Successful Business' will be published in 2018.

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