My name is c.j., your trusted Sales Advisor, and here's the July 2009 (!) issue of Psyche-Selling TM eNewsletter.
It's almost the end of July, and I've just completed July's issue. My apologies for the delay due to my tight July schedule
Earlier this month, we conducted a poll during our Power Breakfast Hour on what should be this month's topic. The verdict was "The Yin and Yang of Selling", and it deals with how we can balance assertiveness and receptivity, to improve our sales results
Hence, this month's topics:
This issue's main article, "The Yin and Yang of Selling", gives attention to when you need to impress upon your customers, and when to shut up and listen.
The Yin and Yang of Selling
by c.j. Ng
The common theme of most sales methodology is to get sales people to first:
Then suggest solutions that will meet their needs.
However, this model may not be appropriate all the time. During one customer visit that we had with the key decision maker, we tried asking them various questions to know what they need, so that we can provide the right solutions for them. The customer replied us "I don't know, you tell me!". We then find out with whom we can get more information, and then had an agreement from the customer to contact the relevant person.
Later, before we can reach out to the said person to ask further questions, we were told that since we didn't impress them enough in the initial contact, there's no need to find out more about their needs.
While personally I'm tempted to say that that customer is an idiot, on retrospect and reflection, I believe what we could have done better was to be a bit more assertive and earn their attention and interest. Even when we don't know what their real needs yet.
The Yin of Selling
Whereas Yang in martial arts refers to the hard, rigid and aggressive (or assertive) styles, Yin refers to soft, flexible and receptive ones.
In sales, the traditional aggressive sales person who would force his products and services right at you, and not let you go unless some cash (usually a big amount) is squeezed out of you. Generally, they:
This can be described as the Yang sales person. However, with increasing customer demands for sales people to be more attentive to needs, and be more responsible for customers' results, such sales people and selling style is on the verge of getting phased out.
Enter the Yin sales person. Unlike the Yang sales person who is all about pushing products and services, the Yin sales person is attentive to your needs. She will not suggest any solution to you unless she can identify what your needs are, and how she can help package the right solution to meet those needs. In fact rather than saying she's a sales person, she actually facilitates your buying, so that it becomes an easier and smoother process for you.
The Yin B2B sales person usually does this by asking intelligent questions, such as:
The Yin luxury retail sales person will ask intelligent questions, such as:
Instead of using these questions as merely means to close the sale, the Yin sales person takes these customers' concerns to heart, and seeks to partner with the customer to deliver optimal results. Small wonder that most customers love to work with the Yin sales person.
The Return of Yang Selling
As a martial art, it is said that Aikido is great for self-defense. The only issue is that its training focused so much on defending, not many of its students know how to initiate an attack (especially in situations where being the first-mover is necessary).
In sales, while being receptive and attentive to needs are important to customers, customers are getting so busy these days to respond to each question raised by every Yin sales person that comes along. Customers need to justify their time to commnicate with a sales person, and if they don't see the value upfront, they will not invest their time, even if it's just for 5 minutes, with any sales person. As such, the Yin sales person may not get the right amount of attention as she deserves.
Hence, there's an element in the forceful, "in-your-face" Yang selling that may be able to get the immediate attention of your customers. However, merely having passion and enthusiasm alone may not be enough to pry open customers' doors. You need to give them a strong value proposition.
This strong value proposition, or what Miller Heiman calls Valid Business Reason, is the possible solution that you can provide to solve specific business concerns. To consumers, this may mean the key benefits that she will get when making a purchase from you.
Unlike the traditional aggressive sales person who is self-centred, cares only for meeting his sales targets and will do anything just to get a meeting, the new Yang sales person is able to give the customer valid reasons, or value propositions to meet up. These reasons are not the sales person's reasons, BUT the customers'. As Warren Buffet puts it, "Value is what you get". The value here is also phrased from the buyer's, and NOT the seller's, point of view.
Some examples of possible value propositions/ Valid Business Reasons can be:
In luxury retail sales, this value proposition can be:
In these times of increasing competition, customers have become more confused than ever before. On one hand, they dislike being sold at, and prefer sales people to guide them to make the right purchases. On the other hand, they need to feel confident and be impressed by the few sales people who can stand out from the crowd.
As a sales person, if you are overly receptive, customers may not even notice you, and hence may not want to see you. If you are overly assertive, customers may be frightened, and run away from you. To be successful, you will have to balance the Yin and Yang of selling.
Some examples on how you can balance between Yin and Yang in selling (especially in the opening stages of a sale) are:
To understand how to balance your Yin and Yang in selling, e-mail email@example.com