Struggling to make sales and turning prospects into customers – FUN?
Many ambitious entrepreneurs dread the ‘sales conversation’, which unfortunately can make it difficult for them to build a successful, thriving business.
Annemarie Cross has invited Meridith Elliott Powell – author of ‘42 Rules to Turn Prospects into Customers’ back on the show to share her wisdom about how you can finally get rid of your fear of selling and start turning your prospects into customers – easily.
Follow Meridith’s simple yet powerful principles so you not only feel comfortable with the entire sales process – you’ll also find it fun, “… because it should be” she says.
Listen to the show to find out WHY:
- There’s just no room for pushy and aggressive sales tactics.
- Relationship building and proactive listening are vital.
- The relationship doesn’t end after you’ve presented your proposal and what to do next.
- How to add value to the relationship so you continue being top of mind and the first person they think of when they’re ready to invest.
Meridith truly believes that anyone can learn how to sell – even you!
If you love what you do, (and we ambitious entrepreneurs do) mastering sales is going to be a piece of cake.
Find out more about the show here:
Show Transcript: How to make sales and turn prospects into customers – FUN!
Annemarie Cross: HI! Welcome to the ambitious entrepreneur show, I’m your host Annemarie Cross. Does your throat go dry and your mind blank when you’re about to have a meeting with a prospect? Many ambitious entrepreneurs dread having to have that sales conversation with a prospect. Which is why I’ve invited Meredith Elliot Powell back on the show to share her wisdom about how you can finally get rid of your fear of selling and start turning your prospects into clients by following her simple yet powerful principles? So stick around!
Meredith Elliot Powell author of “42 Rules to Turn Prospects into Customers” is on a mission to help ambitious entrepreneurs just like you to get to the stage where you can feel not only comfortable with the entire sales process but find it fun because it should be! Says Meredith. Now if you’re a regular listener of this show, you would have heard Meredith and I talk on numerous occasions about some of the 42 rules which I have to say, are just fantastic. You need to go back and listen to some of our previous shows. She’s back to tell us why she believes there’s just no room for pushy, aggressive sales tactics and why relationship building and proactive listening are vital when it comes to turning your prospects into clients.
Welcome to the call Meredith!
Meridith Elliot Powell: Well, thank you Annemarie! I’m very excited to be here and especially excited to talk about this subject tonight!
Annemarie Cross: I love this subject. I know many ambitious entrepreneurs out there are listening today and thinking “You love the thought of having to have a sales conversation with his prospect?” Really? Because selling really does scare a lot of people, yes?
Meridith Elliot Powell: Oh! It’s just unbelievable. You know I always say that ‘sell’ is like that. Again that 4 letter word, they’re just like all the other 4 letter word nobody knows how to use it or say it.
Annemarie Cross: And why do you think that is? Because I mean you probably meet hundreds of people and everyone has their own story about sales. But I think there’s probably a common theme isn’t there? The reason why we don’t like to sell?
Meridith Elliott Powell: There’s definitely a common theme and I have to admit Annemarie, I was one of those people. If you told me that I was going to grow up to be an expert in sales, I’d hold you nothing could be further. I was right there with everybody else. I think it’s because when we say the word, the terms that come across our mind are pushy, aggressive, somebody who’s very concerned about getting what they want and not necessarily concerned about helping you get what you want. And that is a universal theme.
Annemarie Cross: So really is about the bad experience that we’ve had with a sales person previously: we might have walked into a store, you think I’m just going to walk around and browse and all of a sudden, someone comes rushing towards you asking, “can I help you – is there anything that you need?” And you reply “No I’m just browsing.” Fine, move away but it’s that person that follows you around and just won’t leave you alone, which makes you think I’m getting out of here.
Meridith Elliott Powell: Exactly! It doesn’t feel good. You know, I’m doing research on a new book and I’m trying to trace back to when sales really changed. When it really turned into something aggressive because it used to not be like that you know. That they say, you know we’re in such a relationship economy right now that almost our grandparents are almost better suited for this economy than we are. Sales used to not be such an aggressive you know, sport where you were playing to win and if we can get back there, people will learn to love to sell.
Annemarie Cross: You’re right. Years ago when I was shopping with my parents I don’t think it was that bad. People were there to genuinely respond to questions or help you find product. They weren’t in your face saying “come buy this”, “you need this”. It’s not long before you just want to get out there because you just don’t feel comfortable.
Meridith Elliott Powell: Absolutely! I think It’s you know, what I’ve really have come to the conclusion of it’s when sale come to business, really rather than a means to sell a product or service that you truly feel could help. That you could use to help other people. And that’s really what sales is. I’ve got to tell you, I’m on a mission. I want people to learn, to not only love to sell but to learn how to do it and learn to love the word.
Annemarie Cross: If we’re uncomfortable with selling, and we’re not generating sales and turning prospects into clients, it’s going to be difficult for us to run a successful business, yes? So really this is a skill that we have to get comfortable with.
Meridith Elliott Powell: It is. It is. In my opinion, it is the most important skill you can have if you want to thrive in this economy, If you want to be successful whether you work in a large company, whether you own business, whatever you do, if you can sell, you’re always gonna have a job and you’re always gonna have a healthy business. And in a lot of ways, you’re gonna take a lot of your stress out of your life if you become very comfortable with the sales process. And people always roll their eyes when I say that to them and they think stress but when you get comfortable with the process, sales is a means to generate revenue and nothing keeps ambitious entrepreneurs out more than how to generate revenue and keep cash flow coming in to the business. So it’s extremely important.
Annemarie Cross: You talk about the relationship building economy – it’s about relationships. I think this is a relief for ambitious entrepreneurs because they don’t need to be pushy with a prospect. In fact, I think you say, don’t do that at all because it’s really not going to enable you to turn a prospect into a client. Is that correct?
Meridith Elliott Powell: Absolutely and I think the difference is truly whether you’re in it for a short term sale or you’re in it for a long term sale. Sales, honestly is exactly the same. You sell for the same reason your ambitious entrepreneurs went into business because they were passionate about what they do, and they believe that somebody could benefit from them. And sales is taking that one step further and saying, I just want to tell you what I’m offering and perhaps it could benefit you.
You know, in fairness to people, I do understand why people hate the word and why they’re afraid to sell because it took me a while to get there. Because, somewhere along the line, the sales profession just went horribly wrong. I mean you think about terms like up selling, cross selling, closing the deal, it really became very much about what sales does for me as a person and somewhere along the line, the customer, the client, really got lost.
And when we put our focus back on them and really on relationship selling, you’re really out there for the long term.
Annemarie Cross: Yes. It’s not about walking into a store or ringing someone up with general inquiry with the sales person trying to sell, upsell or cross sell to you.
As a prospect I don’t appreciate that.
When you flip that scenario on its head and that person thinks about relationship first, how can I be of service to you? What are your needs, and how can I support you? When we look at it that way, as a prospect, I really feel that here is someone who is genuinely interested and listening to what I have to say and then providing me with some different options on how they may support me if that’s what I decide that I want to down the track. So really, it’s a whole different way isn’t it? It really is about relationship first.
Meridith Elliott Powell: It’s definitely about relationship first when you know and really when you understand how to sell in a way that’s comfortable for you. Honestly Annemarie, all we’re asking you to do, is to adopt what you do in your personal life all day long to your business practices. You know I’ll be standing there with a group of young professionals who in their thirty’s and early forty’s and everybody you know they all have children and they’d be telling me they don’t want to sell and that they’re afraid of the word and I think, “do you tell children to eat vegetables?”
You know, “do you convince your spouse to go to a certain movie?” that is selling. And you know, when you can get a child to eat peas, you do that because you care about the health of that child. It’s the same principle when you’re passionate about selling. When you’re passionate about selling your products and service, you want to share with people and often people say about me, I don’t want to be pushy, I don’t want to be aggressive. I’m not asking you to do that.
But think about this. Imagine you’ve got a customer that’s been coming in to your store for a very long time, and you’re not building relationship, you’re not going deep with that person, you’re not asking questions and you’re not listening. And it turns out that they buy another product or service from one of your competitors because you never asked and they had no idea you offered it. Two things happen. You lose a sale, but worse, you broke trust because now they feel that you’re not looking out for their best interest and that’s really what sales is about.
Annemarie Cross: Exactly, when someone rings you or comes into your store, they have contacted you for a reason – they have a problem. And if you have the solution to that problem and if you’re generating amazing results or could generate amazing results with that prospect, you really are doing them an in service or disservice by not saying “look, here’s some ways that I can support you”.
By sending them away and not saying anything, they could invest in something that is not going be the best option for them because you as you’re an ambitious entrepreneur with amazing products and services and by not saying something, you really aren’t doing them justice are you?
Meridith Elliott Powell: Not at all, you know it happens on a daily basis. People buy products and services that are not exactly the right fit or of lesser value to them because our ambitious entrepreneur didn’t speak up and have that conversation. And I think this is so important conversation you and I have so many times and I’ve really heard you repeated so much is that, truly what we’re talking about is relationship selling. Now I understand your competitors were out there being pushy and aggressive and all day long because that is still how we are taught to sell.
But relationship selling, the great thing about it is, you don’t have to master it overnight, this is something you can slowly and easily get comfortable with and it just begins by shifting your paradigm to thinking, not that selling is not about pushing and being aggressive but that it’s truly about helping people and thinking that, if I don’t speak up, if I don’t listen to my customers, if I don’t ask them questions, if I don’t offer solutions, then they’re not gonna benefit from what I have to offer and in my opinion, that’s sad.
Annemarie Cross: Absolutely. That prospect could say “I’ve been struggling for years and you didn’t tell me that you could help me overcome that problem.”
When you start thinking that way, it’s really sort of like “hey! I really need to let this prospect know that if they’re interested, this is how I can support them. This is the outcome they can achieve and you know, they can make the decision whether they really choose to do it or not and again, you don’t need to push them, you’re just explaining what it is you can do, how it is that you can do it, and the outcome and the results they can achieve should they decide that they want to work with you.
That’s really all it is isn’t it? It’s thinking – relationship first.
Meridith Elliott Powell: Exactly! It’s really thinking about helping people and you know, in all honesty, there’s still very much a fight to sort of speak in the sales world about the idea we’re talking about right now. I mean, so many people think relationship comes secondary and that sales is still very much about the person who is doing it, more so than it is about the client or the customer. And I really don’t subscribe to that, so I really want your listeners to understand that we’re not talking about going out there and being aggressive and pushy.
What we are talking about is making sales a lifestyle, not a task that you do but you’re proud of the product or service that you offer and you care about the people that come in to your business as well as the people you go out and you meet. And you want to share all the benefits that your product or service can offer and the difference it can make to them. So we’re talking about getting to know people, asking questions, really listening and leading with a servant’s heart.
Annemarie Cross: Meredith, as usual, you have provided some amazing information. We’re just gonna take a short break but when we get back, I want to ask you, What you think the next step should be for ambitious entrepreneurs if they want to take this into the next level, so that they can start turning their prospects into customers.
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Annemarie Cross: And welcome back! I’m your host Annemarie Cross and I’m talking to Meredith Elliot Powell, author of “42 Rules to Turn Prospects into Customers”.
For someone here who is listening today, and they’re thinking, whew! What a relief! I don’t have to be pushy when speaking to a prospect. I can bring my own style into the conversation. I can put the relationship first.
So after putting the relationship first, what’s the next step?
Meridith Elliot Powell: The first thing I always tell people to do is to shift their paradigm and create a positive attitude. You really need to understand that people are buying your confidence and are buying your energy. So many things that you have said tonight, really discussed the fact that buying is emotional. It is so emotional and you know you read so many books that it’s about the tasks and the process and the systems that you do but people buy from you because they like you.
So understand the one thing that I can’t do for you, the one skill that I can’t conquer is, you have to believe in what you’re offering and believe your product and service is good and then you need to get right in your mind that I want to go out there and I want to tell people about it and then from there, your first job, your first skill that you need to do, it is so easy that all you have to do is, well, listen to people. Really listen to people and ask really good questions.
Annemarie Cross: You can have a set of questions that’s going to be unique to you and the service and the product that you offer. These can be some really great open ended questions that’s going to allow you’re prospect to really share where they are in their lives or in their business and some of the things that they’re struggling with.
Meridith Elliott Powell: Absolutely, you know some of my favorite questions and it’s almost a benefit if you’re a bit of a novice at sales because you don’t feel the need to jump but you know, not no better question out there than tell me about your business. And if you really listen, you will hear so much in there but another one of my favorites, you know, what are some of the challenges you’re having?
Or how is this economy impacted your business? Where do you see your business in the next 5 years? The information that pours out of people, if you listen it’s just, your little mind just starts clicking off not only with the product or service you offer that could help but other people that you could introduce them to, other products or service that could benefit them. I mean it’s just so rewarding to listen to people. It’s so interesting but they really tell you what it is that they need.
Annemarie Cross: I can see that those 2 questions alone, would open up a flood gate of information that really golden nuggets because and if you take it from the prospect that you really are interested in which because of course you are.
And you can also look out for opportunities where you can provide additional support. You may even have some resources that you can share with them to help build trust and like and integrity in that relationship.
Meridith Elliott Powell: Absolutely! And understand that you know, and the great thing about selling this way and selling from a relationship stand point is that, the goal isn’t on the first call and the second call to close the deal. The deal will close when it needs to close but you want sales to become a lifestyle and be proud of the fact that you’re out there sharing your own story and sharing with people what your product and service could offer.
Annemarie Cross: Yes, the deal will close when it’s reached that point in time where it just feels natural to do that. If you’ve been gone to a prospect and you’ve pitched them a proposal: (I don’t really like the word “pitch” but we know what it means) you’ve provided it to them, you’ve presented it to them and they say, “You know what, this is fantastic, we’re not ready yet”. And I know that the relationship really doesn’t end there does it? Can you say more about that?
Meridith Elliott Powell: Oh! You know, follow up is so important and so key. You know there’s two things that when you initially make a call, I always laugh at people and say “you know, as much as you wished that it was true, people aren’t just standing behind their door praying that you’re going to knock on it one day to sell them something”. That’s right!
So, often we present an idea and life happens and people can act on it at that time and that’s just all that means is that your prospect is not ready right now, So it’s your job to create at least stay in touch and continue to build the relationship. It’s just an indicator that the relationship just isn’t deep enough right now and the important things to know about follow up is, well it does need to be consistent, that’s important. It needs to be personal and it needs to add value. Follow up is really about continuing to build the relationship.
Annemarie Cross: Yes, it’s all about adding value and being personal. Again, you really need to think about building that relationship first.
What’s one thing that you would recommend as a way to add value to that relationship?
Meridith Elliott Powell: The best way to add value to a relationship is a back again to the term “listen”. Because when you listen to somebody, they’re going to tell you exactly the most pressing issue on their mind at that moment and it may be the fact that they don’t know where the local movie theatre is to take their child to the movies on Friday night and you happen to know where it is so you give them directions and you know, send them a link to map quest or the exact address to put into their gps.
Value is such a personal thing and it’s finding a way to take whatever you heard in the conversation and act on it. And that adds value and it builds trust. When people share their story with you, they’re telling you opportunities they’ve got and they’re also telling you challenges they’re facing and things that are most pressing on their mind. And when you act on that, when you find a way to help them solve their problems, you add value.
It’s as you listened to me, you care about me and you were interested in me. It can be such a simple gesture. But you know, the other thing that you do, is you, at that moment say, that our relationship, I promise is going to be more about you, than it is going to be more about me. Because you took care of their need before you took care of your need.
Annemarie Cross: I’m so glad that you shared that because I think when we hear the phrase ‘providing value’, we think it has to do with something related to our offer or our proposal.
It’s not at all. It really is building trust. You were helpful. You listened, there was a need, and it was not necessarily related to the business need; it could have been a personal need.
Meridith Elliot Powell: Absolutely. You know I had one happened to me just last week. This woman I’ve been introduced to was at a very large resort and she was in charge of meetings and conventions and somebody made an introduction for me, gosh it’s probably been a year and a half or two years ago now, you know, I’ll admit I sort of thought there was going to be something in it for me fast and there was and we continued to build relationship and sometimes she’d return my phone calls then I wouldn’t hear from here forever but I just continued to build relationship, she called me out of the blue one day, needed a favor and I say sure no problem I took care of that.
I’m sitting in Baltimore, Maryland working last week and a phone call came across and answered my cell phone, I said hello and they were calling me from this resort and there’s a huge convention there in January and she just out of the blue just threw to me this amazing speaking engagement, had I looked at it like well, you know, I gave her 3 chances, she didn’t do anything for me, I’m moving on. Instead of always keeping that door open, always having the right attitude, always adding value and I mean the doors she’s opened for me is I mean extreme. The connection she made, the audience she’s put me in front of, it has led to other things already.
You just never know when things are going to come through and personally, you know, from a sales stand point, that’s how I like to live my life. I don’t want to be in a situation and most sales techniques teach us that, that you know, you got to get something out of it or you move on but you know by keeping those doors open, always building that relationship and sales being a lifestyle for me. You know, it’s something I do. You know, get a check mark on my off to-do list. Business is cost only pouring through.
Annemarie Cross: What a great example of how this can work.
When we don’t build relationships but rather put people through a series of questions and if they don’t tick all the boxes you just move on well, you can miss out on so many opportunities.
You don’t know who they connected to, so if you build a relationship, you’re helpful, they get to know and trust you. Then they may, just like you get a referral.
Meridith Elliot Powell: Absolutely. You know it’s something I want to visit that you used the term “pitched” and said you know, you don’t like the term, and we absolutely don’t like the term. Here’s the thing, I feel like, with terms like sales and terms like pitch, what we really need to know is we’ve come so worried about the words that what we need to do is, it’s not the words that are the problem, it’s the definition that we have behind them.
And the point is, when you’re leading with a servant’s heart, when you know how to sell from a relationship standpoint, you can use whatever terms you want to use and they’re going to have the right meaning and the right connotation behind them. I just, I have to laugh at the presentations that I have been doing lately and people ask me to call it relationship client-advocacy. You know if by just changing a term, employees aren’t going to know what we’re asking them to do or consumers aren’t going to know that we’re selling to them when the truth is, the term isn’t the problem. It’s the energy that’s coming out of you.
Annemarie Cross: You know what, let’s just stand up and stand out for all of those words. We should start changing the meaning behind that. So we put relationship, we put the people; we put the person back into the mix so really it’s relationship first. I think it’s true.
Meridith Elliott Powell: It is very true, You know what Annemarie, I don’t know what your sales journey truly has been but you know the one thing and I feel confident you feel the same but the really the one thing I want you to get your listeners to know is that, you can learn to sell. It is an easy thing to do. And if you are passionate about what you do for a living, mastering sales is going to be a piece of cake.
Annemarie Cross: I think to hear someone like yourself say that, “It’s a piece of cake” is very empowering. To think that we can enjoy having a sales conversation, being confident when we put forward out proposal is inspiring.
A lot of what we’ve been talking about today, is also included in your book. There are lots of golden nuggets in there and I’ve said it before and I’m going to say it again, I think it should be a resource on every ambitious entrepreneurs’ book shelf. Tell us, what’s the title of the book?
And how can people go out and grab not just one copy but actually several copies? Because here what I think is a great way to build relationships next time you go and talk to other business owner, why don’t you go and give them a copy of Meredith’s book. What a great way to build relationships, open up the doors of possibility to a JV because I think there’s such a great information in there and I know that you and I are on a mission to change the whole paradigm around sales so that we really bring the person back into it. How can people get into contact with you?
Meridith Elliott Powell: The title of the book is “42 Rules to Turn Prospects into Customers” and it literally is a step by step process and a baby step by step process, you don’t have to move any faster than you want to move but every step has you making progress and you can get that on my website which is motionfirstnow.com or it is available on Amazon and it’s also available in kindle version.
Annemarie Cross: Fantastic! So again that’s Motionfirstnow.com and “42 Rules to Turn Prospects into Customers”. Again it’s been such an amazing show Meredith, I always love speaking with you because it really is bringing a whole set of different thinking and beliefs around what so many of us through the years have learned to sort of shy away from but you know we need to learn how to embrace it because really, we do it every day don’t we? We talk, we listen, and we do it every day.
Meridith Elliot Powell: Absolutely. We do it every day and it is the one thing that is going to put you in complete control of your success and that just feels good.
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