First, Sell The Idea

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First, Sell The Idea

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Often, the toughest part of selling isn’t talking about features and benefits. Instead, the toughest part is often convincing the client why they should care enough to consider it!

In an era where every prospect has access to product reviews and company websites, the unique value salespeople offer isn’t how much they care about what they’re selling – instead, it’s their ability to show their prospects why they should care.

And that starts before we ever talk about features and benefits. Instead, it starts with an idea.

There’s a type of salesperson who is used to pitching ideas to make the sale, and whether you know it or not, you’ve come across what they’ve sold. These salespeople are journalists and authors, and we can learn a lot from their sales process. They’ve become expert at selling an idea on ‘spec’, and only when it’s sold do they produce something tangible.

To learn the secret of selling ideas to increase our engagement, we sat down with Julie Barlow and Jean-Benoit Nadeau. They shared what they’d learned from careers as travelling writers and small business experts to show salespeople the power of selling an idea before anything else.

T-Trigger: To trigger this system, Julie and Jean said to first determine whether the person you’re about to speak with understands your business and the value of what you’re selling. If they likely don’t, then you’ll want to be especially familiar with the outcomes and results someone with their job title/position has. Be prepared to add value to them by educating them on what they need to know in considering whether to purchase what you’re selling.

R-Repeatable: To make this system repeatable, Jean and Julie said to first start with the prospect. Ask: What is the ideal outcome they’d like to experience? For a writer, their clients might care about book sales or website clicks, so you’ll want to confirm what an ‘ideal outcome’ is for your prospect.

Next, you’ll want to outline the conditions that allow you to help them achieve that outcome in the most efficient way. Your prospect may not be aware that there’s multiple ways to reach the same destination, so you’ll want to be the one to educate them on the options.

Third, discuss ownership. Who owns the outcome if you’re successful? Your prospect may be responsible for choosing options, but their boss is ultimately the one who benefits. Alternatively, your prospect may be purchasing what you sell so that their clients can be more successful. Knowing who ultimately benefits allows you to frame what you can provide as a win/win.

Fourth, discuss your expertise in delivering that outcome in the most efficient way possible while benefitting the folks this prospect needs to benefit. This is the first time that terms enter the conversation, and they’re much easier to present because you’re talking about outcomes from the client’s perspective, not just making a deal.

I-Improvable: To improve this system, Jean and Julie say to start with improving the way you’re communicating with customers. Debrief your past customers and ask them if their results aligned with their expectations. Because you’re selling an idea, you’ll want to make sure you painted a picture that you can deliver on.

M-Measurable: To measure a system that delivers ideas as a central part of the sale, Julie and Jean advocate measuring not your gross sales or conversion. Instead, measure your time. How much time are you spending in the sales process compared to the income you’re producing?

The better you are at selling ideas, the less time you’ll spend convincing prospects to give their time to you.

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