Is it having a great product or service? Sure, that helps...I mean, you can't sell if you don't have something to sell, right? But that's just a starting point.
Is it practicing objections and responses over and over until you can spit out products and benefits in your sleep? Again, this is a necessary part of sales, but is it the secret? I don't think so.
Is it being assumptive; assuming that the person in front of you is going to buy and framing your questions and comments around this? This, too, is helpful but is it the "secret sauce" that will turn a lead or an individual into a sale? I don't think we're quite there yet.
Is it, to quote Simon Sinek, "to start with why?" Well, now this is a bit closer, because it gives you a better understanding about not only why you do what you do, but why a prospective customer or client might want to buy from you. However, it's not exactly the answer is it?
Okay, okay, I'll get to it right now. The secret to selling isn't "selling" someone at all, it's allowing them to be understood. By asking, "Why..." And following up on their answers (usually with more "Why" question), you will find yourself getting to the heart of the issue. Our jobs as sales people is to be passionate about what we sell and to be curious and fascinated about the reasons our potential customers have for why they do what they do - for why they don't want our product/service, why they chose another vendor over us, or why they appear to be being difficult.
When we understand their "Why" we can then share with them how our solution matches up.
How do you do this? One of the oldest tips for selling is referred to as "The Five Why's." This idea is built around the foundation that most people don't offer up the real reason for not wanting something (or wanting something for that matter) when they are first asked. They usually just give the easy answer or quick rebuttal, hoping that a sales person will back off (or slowly fade into the shadows from whence they came). Think about it yourself, if you are shopping for something and a salesperson asks you why you aren't buying today or if you are interested in some add-on or service, what do you usually do? You make up an excuse about being busy or "Just looking" because you don't want to be "sold."
We all do variations of this. "I'm happy with my current provider." "I'm not looking for a new right now." Or, one more humorous note, "I'm not in the mood." The key sales people need to remember in these situations is this, one of our basic human needs is to simply be heard and to know that someone truly listens to us. One of the ways sales people can use this to their advantage is by asking why-based questions. For example, "Why aren't you looking for a new vendor?" This gives the person a chance to share why they are happy with their product. It gives you information for which you can follow up with another "why" question - until you find out either the real reason they don't want to be sold today OR you find a piece of information that you can then use as a tipping off point to share why your offerings might be a better fit.
Now, if you are like me, you might be thinking, "Won't all of these why question start to be annoying?" The answerL Yes, if all you are saying is "Why" for every piece of information you are given. They key is to respond in such a way that tells the other person you are listening to them - whether it's a simple restatement or paraphrasing of what they just shared followed by a question or just agreeing with them and then offering a follow-up question.
The key is to listen in order to understand. Once you understand, you can expertly share how your product will better meet their needs and why they simply must switch to your product or service.
Give it a shot! And if you aren't going to, I'd love to know why in the comments below. ;)