Tweak Your Biz » Sales » Are You Selling To Your Market Or Yourself?

Are You Selling To Your Market Or Yourself?



So, has business changed much for you over the past few years?

Regardless of where you are in the world, if you answered “no” to the question above, you can stop reading and go and do something more beneficial with your time. Otherwise you will read the rest of the post, get upset and possibly waste yet more time thinking about how wrong I am. Are you still reading? So you may be intrigued… well that’s healthy. Welcome to my world!

For those of you who have been reading my posts here over the past couple of years, will know that I don’t normally discuss sales. But in actual fact the reality is that unless you do not exist, you are selling something. So let’s assume you work in or run a business. Then you are definitely selling. Perhaps you are selling an idea to peers or management, perhaps a service to your most revered client, or perhaps convincing yourself to purchase an iPad2.

If you are not pro-actively selling, you are hoping the sales will come to you. However, hope is not a strategy. There is an element of trusting in the universe to survive, but on the whole we need to be pro-active in gaining customers.

So how do we sell? The old way? Or the new way? I know of the old way, and have previously survived the old way, but I much prefer the new way, and relish in the new form of selling – by simply asking questions: Questions are the Answer” (Zig Ziglar on selling)

It’s a consultative type of selling but should not be savoured just for consultants. I remember attending a Sales Master Class that focused a lot on FAB (Features, Advantages, Benefits). Yes, there was emphasis on connecting the benefits to the customer, but I didn’t quite get it at the time.

Now I realise that rabbiting off features and benefits doesn’t address the underlying issues for a client – their problem. By asking questions, we can find a solution to their problem, and find a FIT.

So if you were to ask only 1 question to yourself as you interact with a potential client/customer, ask this question first – “So what?” (from the book Hope is not a Strategy, well worth a read)

You already know the benefits and advantages of your product or service. For each one, ask yourself “So what?” This will assist you in defining the solution for their problem. I am an advocate of providing solutions to problems rather than selling a service!

So my question to you is, have you changed your selling style in recent times? Do you see improvements? Do you ask questions to find a solution for your client? Or do you still rely on FAB selling?

Share your insights with us below…



The Author:

Elaine Rogers is a Business Training & Development Specialist. She provides training and coaching in the areas of IT Skills, Business Skills, and Soft Skills. Elaine has just launched a new online training store at http://www.thesmarttrain.com that provides videos and workshops in the areas of IT, Business and Soft Skills. http://www.thesmarttrain.com

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  • Facundo

    I also agree with to providing the solution to the problem and that’s nearly always the angle I try to use. Still, depending on the service I may tie it initially to the FAB, especially for clients who are not fully acquainted with the type of solution yet. Nice post Elaine

  • Derbhile

    That is so true. I was at a networking event and a woman who owns a nursing training service asked another person at the table a lot of questions about her social care course and what she’d like to do afterwards. The person revealed that she wished she could do manual handling, so she could be in line for jobs. The woman said, ‘Well, wel offer manual handling.’ Smooth as. I’ll be doing slick things like that from now on.u00a0

  • http://www.tweakyourbiz.com Niall Devitt

    There is an awful amount of B.S. spoken and written about selling, I’m not including your post here Elaine :)nIn fact there is so much rubbish out there I often wonder how anyone could work it out.u00a0nnIn itsu00a0simplest form selling is about working out how why people buy, and different people buy for different reasons, depending on what they are buying and who they are buying for.u00a0nnTraditionalu00a0marketing is about appealing to the masses, selling on the other hand is about appealing to the individual so byu00a0definition a one size fits all sales approach was and is never going to work.u00a0nnInterestingly perhaps, I think that social media is bringing the gap between marketing and selling. Great social media and great selling have something very much in common – they both heavily depend on listening really well to customers. u00a0 u00a0 u00a0u00a0

  • Denise Fay

    Elaine, great post. nnSo What? is a question I ask my clients all the time when it comes to them communicating with their customers. It really helps business owners to continually think about their message and what they’re selling. And why someone would buy from them. nnThose two little words are so powerful – they smack a mighty punch. nnDenisennu00a0

  • http://www.seefincoaching.com/blog Elaine Rogers

    Thank you Facundo – and of course some clients don’t quite know what the problem is, so sometimes we have to help them see the wood from the trees :)

  • http://www.seefincoaching.com/blog Elaine Rogers

    Derbhile – that’s a great story – same thing happened to me recently – that is the beauty of networking, especially the non-formal type – amazing what relationships and collaborations can happen when people don’t feel “threatened” or “sold to”.nnWhen we tie in with the emotions of our clients, it doesn’t really feel like selling on either side – more a collaboration (where money transfers of course)nnThanks for sharing a great story :)

  • http://www.seefincoaching.com/blog Elaine Rogers

    I agree Niall and I believe “selling” does not deserve to be out on such a limb – when every interaction we have with others is a form of selling anyway.nnWe need a new term – no better man (you are hired by the way!)

  • http://www.seefincoaching.com/blog Elaine Rogers

    They surely do Denise – and I really felt that message recently during your #31ways webinar with regard to copyright and sharing a message.nnEverything we do is a form of communication, so perhaps we should concentrate more on having the conversation in order to listen. I do believe it is the preferred approach for most buyers.nnHaving said that, some buyers just want to be “WOWED” so perhaps there is still a place for FAB selling after all :)

  • Johnogorman

    nnHi Elaine, nnnu00a0nnnInteresting and thought provoking article. nnnu00a0nnnI am coming at this from a B2B complexnsales perspective.nnnu00a0nnnFAB selling for many sales teams can bentough to move away from and it can result in having the wrong conversations atnthe wrong levels with inevitable consequences on conversion rates and stalledndeals. nnnu00a0nnnMost benefits are not worthy of discussionnat the buyers board table because they rarely impact on the bottom line atnleast not tangibly. Business impact is king. Buyers need metrics to justify whynthey are investing!! nnnu00a0nnnNow we all know it is more difficult to sellnbusiness impact because it requires getting access to information on thenresults achieved by others, some view of the results the buyer wants (their businessncase), selling to more number focused buyers and selling to buyers who are quitenoften sceptical of lots of questions from sellers. nnnu00a0nnnSelling with stories, sells the impact andnhelps counters the weaknesses of FAB. nnnu00a0nnnOf course having a view of the buyersnprocess also helps (ties into Niall point above) nnnu00a0nnnHope this adds to the conversation. nu00a0nn

  • http://www.seefincoaching.com/blog Elaine Rogers

    Hi John,nthanks for sharing your insights – you make some great points. I would imagine stories ties in with demonstrating integrity, experience, expertise, ability to do the job/complete the project and of course the emotional connection also.nnI take your point about some buyers being skeptical about lots of questions. I truly believe the way business is being done is changing and Iu00a0 see less sellers and buyers with their arms so close to their chest.nnTraditional ways will always be there, esp with B2B, but I think the traditional buyer will not be my client (however, I am open to correction on this). nnWe at Mallow Open Coffee (http://opencoffeemallow.wordpress.com/) are trying out a new initiative – meeting with a Nursing Home to chat and share with the entrepreneurs of yesterday. It will be very interesting to hear what they think of how business is being conducted todaynnAnd as I mentioned to Niall, a new term for selling would be cool :)

  • http://www.encouragingexcellence.ie/ Mairu00e9ad Kelly

    At a network meeting today the guy giving the talk suggested we ask the person beside us how we can help them without trying to pitch any of our services to them…I’ve done this before, somehow when I did it today it made a difference, one person I spoke to said to me afterwards “I’ll be back to you, you are just the type of person I need to help me”.u00a0 nnAt @IrishSmiley’s event just over a week ago she said that the word “sell” comes from the Swedish word “to serve” and when you think of it like that it completely changes how you approach it.nnI’ve both done and had done to me the “so what” and it really does make you think about what you are offering your clients.u00a0 Lots of thought provoking today…keep it coming.

  • http://www.seefincoaching.com/blog Elaine Rogers

    Mairead – what a great story :)nnI am thinking we need a new term for “Sell” so open to suggestions – something that is more obviously serving. I think the word alone can scare people off!nnThanks for contributing to the conversation, glad you enjoyed the post as it was aimed to provoke thought

  • Anonymous

    Elaine,nnYour post reminded me of a trend I have been observing both directly and from conversations with small business peers. When all is said and done, the person you are selling to is trying to imagine how he/she can benefit from what you offer and what budget line will pay for it. Asking questions and highlighting their answers (not yours) helps them see more clearly how you are the right person for what they need.

  • http://www.seefincoaching.com/blog Elaine Rogers

    Very true Elli – thanks for sharing your observations. I feel now like I need to become a second skin for my clients to really feel and understand their needs lol.nnBut I wonder what happens when a client recognises that you have just reflected back their worst fears and insecurities. It would turn into a coaching session :-/

  • Kraig

    This is soo true! No matter who you are! you are selling something! nnI will be reading your other articles! Thank you!!!!nnkraignwww.salesdialers.com

  • http://www.dragon-strategies.com DragonLeaders

    The sale (soul) searchig “so what” question has helped me get to the bottom of why, what and how to provide my services and products. The answers will reveal in talking to clients “consultatively” as you said. What I learned in the process is this: it is not about me, it’s about you (client).

  • http://www.smartsolutions.ie/blog/ Elaine Rogers

    Hi there.
    Thanks for adding to the conversation.  it is always about the other person / people, and if we are mindful of that, we are winning :)

  • http://www.ukelectricalsupplies.com/ Electrical Supplies

    Sell to your market! When you sell yourself, you are making your business more and more dependent on YOU. If you own and run the business, have a sales plan which does not evolve fully around you.