Josh Denham, event manager for MCM London Comic Con, discusses the power of knowledge and playing the long game.
Sales is a funny game. From working in recruitment to media sales to exhibitions, I’ve learned that there seems to be a stigma around how to approach people, whether it’s with an age-old sales patter or with a more personable approach.
While there are so many different styles of sales out there, I find there are two main types of salespeople.
There’s the old school sales person picking up the phone, doing sales the traditional way. They’re being targeted heavily with getting on the phone, getting call times up, quite obviously trying to mine key information as quickly as they can so they can get onto the next phone call, converting calls into sales.
In comparison, there’s the modern-day approach of ‘softly softly catchee monkey’, which is more about trying to sell the overall ‘this is our company, this is who we are’; telling and selling a story, which takes longer to get to the end product.
As the saying goes, if people buy into you as a person, and can trust you, they will trust your product and then are more likely to buy it. If you can build a relationship and that important trust, they’re going to come back time and time again, and in theory should come back spending more each time.
I believe it’s all about showing an understanding. It does take time to get your mindset to a stage where you feel comfortable approaching anyone. One of the most key pieces of advice that I was ever given, which really helped me switch off from trying to push a product into somebody’s hands that they didn’t want to buy, was before you pick up the phone, think of how you would want somebody to approach you.
Not sell to you, but just that initial approach. No matter who you are or what level you work at, most people don’t like being sold to, they don’t like to feel like they’re being pitched to. Straight away you’re going to have that objection to overcome.
If you can go in and just talk to them like a human being, with the respect you would want from somebody calling you out of the blue – nobody expects you to talk to them like you’re their best friend, especially if you’re cold calling.
Treat somebody with respect – don’t get side-tracked by their job level or position in the company.
If I’m speaking to someone, would I make sure that I understand their product and what they’re looking for? Yes.
It sounds simple, but if I’m buying a new laptop, for example, someone approaching me and being genuinely approachable and friendly, and not too forceful, is key. Rather than walking me straight to the Apple products and telling me they’re the best ever because they’re working on commission and it’s the biggest price tag on a computer, they need to try and find out all the key needs.
The best salesperson I’ve found is someone who provides information. Somebody that clearly knows their product and has a passion for it but isn’t forceful with it.
You need to be 100 per cent behind your product; if you’ve done your research on the company then you can link to them and their product and their needs.
If you go in in the belief that you know what their marketing strategy is for the year, for example, you’re going to be on the road to failure. You might get the odd chance where you’ll hit the nail on the head, but why leave it to luck, it’s only short-term and you need to play the long game.
More often than not, you’re going to be off the mark without the relevant information and you’re going to look unprofessional and, in the end, lose that trust from that client.
Probing questions are going to be your bread and butter for making a sale; you need to know what the client wants. How do you find that out? Research. Research. Research. Know the company, know what they offer and know what they want.
If you can glean any past examples of what they might have done, whether they’ve been at a competitor show before or what past activities they’ve been involved in – you can use all of this as a lead.
Show that you’ve done your research on the company, respect them and give time to finding out what was successful in these activities, how much did they benefit, what were their key motivations and would they do it again?
While you’re sourcing all this information, you should be checking things off of your own product range checklist to make sure what you have actually suits and benefits this client.
Then, when you have enough information, you will be confident in offering an adapted package or solution that you know will benefit them.
Another age-old saying: Knowledge is power. If you take the time to gather that information that will benefit both you and the client, more often than not, you will get that sale.
Editor’s note: This opinion piece was published on the August issue of EN. The digital version is available online