In Junior High School there were two girls I really, really wanted to be friends with (no, I don’t know why). They were both trying out for cheerleading… consequently so did I.
The three of us went to tryouts together and were put through the paces. I can’t remember the specifics (perhaps I blocked them out?). I do remember feeling silly and awkward. The next day, the results were posted. We looked at the list for our names. The two of them pushed through the crowd to see if we had made the 1st cut. My name was there – theirs weren’t.
Needless to say, they didn’t ever talk with me after that (give ‘em a break – it was Junior High after all). I didn’t really want to be a cheerleader, so I didn’t even go to the next tryout session.
That was the turning point for me. I realized that trying to be someone I wasn’t, wouldn’t work. Even if I did “it” well, it wouldn’t make me happy. Don’t get me wrong: since then I have forgotten this grade school lesson from time to time and had to re-learn it (don’t ask about the years of being a “sales manager” I’m still blocking that out).
Turns out everyone has felt this way at one time or another (and I thought it was just me!). That square peg in a round hole feeling. Here are 6 Inside Sales Tips and Action Items to help you extricate yourself from those round holes you find yourself wedged in.
Tip #1: Don’t try to fit in. Simply be fantastic.
Here is a crazy lesson I’ve learned since that junior high school experience: many times, the very things that have you feeling that you don’t quite fit in, are what differentiate you from the competition. I’m not talking about corporate differentiators – I’m talking about what makes YOU special to your prospects and clients.
Action Item: Ask your customers why they buy from you (if you’re new to sales or your current job – ask your friends, family, and co-workers what they rely on you for). Since I’m not there to coach you through the process… bear with me for a moment.
Tip #2: Cut out the garbage.
I want you to focus on the specifics about what YOU do that is important to the folks you work for. The majority of salespeople I have worked with, come back with a list of corporate garbage when I ask them this question. (Not that what your company does is garbage, but that isn’t what I want you to LISTEN for).
Action Item: While you’re doing Action Item #1, avoid the voices in your head telling you: “but everyone does that” or “that is easy, I do that for everyone.” Don’t allow yourself to believe that any other salesperson can do what you, so effortlessly, do! Since I’ve been using this exercise with my coaching clients, they tell me that the things they feel are effortless and unimportant are THE very things their customers think are most important!
Tip #3: Emphasis
Now that you know why they buy from you, be MORE of you. Prospects and customers can’t see you when you sell over the phone. This means you have to be YOU in bold. Think about utilizing tone, inflection, pace, and volume a little bit more than you do when in front of someone where you have the benefit of body language.
Action Item: Specifics count!
When you’re thinking of being bold, you can’t generalize the answers you get about why you’re special. When your customer says: “Margaret, you’re so funny. I love talking with you because my day is better after you leave than it was before you showed up” you hear: “They appreciate our relationship”. Do NOT be generic in your approach. Listen to their actual words.
Tip #4 : Differentiate ME
Now that you have a list of what makes you, as a human, different from the competition, plop those specifics into categories. At this point you have a list of the effortless things that differentiate you. For some of you, they are also the things that make it difficult for you to fit in. No matter what you sell or where you work – this is the value YOU bring to the prospects and customers. It is the value they get from working with you instead of someone else.
Action Item: Keep this list in the forefront of your day. Do these things more often and ensure that the people who buy from you today stay ecstatic about their experience. This is the list that makes you important to them, NEVER get lazy and stop doing this stuff.
Tip #5: Find people who need ME
Now that you own what keeps you from fitting in and instead makes you fantastic, use it to make money instead of worrying about it ! I promise there are people out there who buy what you sell that need YOU. Look at your list again: what does the prospect/customer look like who needs what you do effortlessly?
Personal Example: I am freakishly organized, no really I have list about my lists AND my husband would tell you I have been known to write things I have already done – just for the pleasure of crossing them off the list. Ideal Customer Profile: Absent Minded Professors, men and women who are brilliant in their area of expertise, yet might come to work with different colored shoes on (true story).
Action Item: Take the time to create your own ideal customer profile. There will be things your company believes are important, take it from there and add your own spin. It begins with: do they buy what we sell, do they need what I do, and do they have money to spend? Now make it specific to your uniqueness.
Tip #6: Pay Attention! It’s Key. How will you know someone meets your Ideal Customer Profile unless you uncover it?
- What does their outgoing voicemail message tell you about them?
- What does the message they leave you, show about their personality?
- When they answer the phone, does their attitude show through?
- During the conversation, what can you hear going on in the background? What words do they use to describe things?
- When you receive emails, are they long, short, professional, friendly? Is there a personal tag line or quote at the bottom?
- When you Google them, what do you find?
Action Item: Gather as much information as you can and cross reference it back to your Ideal Customer Profile. The closer it matches, the more likely you will be successful.
Here is the key; those girls from Junior High didn’t want to be friends with me. They wanted to be friends with the imaginary person I was trying to be. I was using so much energy and effort to put in front of them. It was exhausting. It wasn’t fun. It wasn’t me.
My REAL friends laugh with ME, like ME for who I am, put energy back into my world instead of sucking it away.
Ideal customers are the same (no I am not saying you have to be friends with all your customers, we’re moving back into the sales world here). Start to create a base of customers who want to work with you as much as you want to work with them. They are fun to work with, believe you bring value to the relationship for being YOU, and are the most profitable people to work with because they are willing to pay for all the things you do.
Action Item: Lynn Hidy and Babette Ten Haken are talking about why inside sales people leave sales dollars on the table by avoiding selling to technical professionals. You just might be missing out on some of your most ideal customers. Listen in.
Lynn Hidy, founder of UpYourTeleSales.com, specializes in creating profitable inside salespeople and organizations. Working with Lynn, you will learn to create a phone experience where they will forget you aren’t actually having a cup of coffee together! You can find Lynn on Twitter , read Coaching over Coffee blog posts, connect on LinkedIn, or like us on Facebook.