Don’t overthink it. At the end of the day, selling is a basic human interaction. You are selling as you go about your social interactions online and offline.

It is the imagination that it’s not, that magnifies a molehill into a mountain in your mind; it’s the unnecessary painstaking analysis that freezes you in a paralysis. And what the mind cannot handle the hand cannot either. One of the biggest challenges novice salespeople face is responding to the question, “How do I handle the steps in the sales cycle?” How do I prospect, interview, demonstrate, validate, negotiate, close and ask for a referral? Let’s look at some.

Prospecting is finding new people

How do I prospect (get contacts of people who can buy my product)? In human (social) interaction, how do you get friends, girlfriends or boyfriends? When I ask the latter in class, the vibrant delegates respond enthusiastically. “That’s easy, I’m told. Hang out where they do, blind date; call at work, connect online,” and on and on. Then I ask, how do you prospect, and the mood instantly changes to funereal. Suddenly, grave thoughts zing in their minds: ‘This is serious business; I must be careful how I respond’; and slowly the molehill starts growing into a mountain. Don’t over think it. Just reach out professionally in the same manner you would socially.

Don’t overthink it

Don’t overthink it. You commonly ask for referrals

How do I ask for a referral? Ladies, when you stop a complete stranger in the street, to ask them what they use for their skin to make it so smooth, you have simultaneously prospected and asked for a referral. Parents, when you ask a fellow parent where their kid schools because you like how they behave, you have just asked for a referral. Now, when I quiz salespeople on how they ask for a referral, again, the atmosphere becomes grave. Don’t over think it. Just be as succinct as the ladies (and parents).

Notice how specific the query is: it’s what she uses to make her skin so smooth; not, “What makes you look so beautiful?”. The latter is ambiguous and difficult to answer. Just like, “Refer me to someone else who can buy my product” is, as compared to, “Please refer me to your counterpart at ZXV Bank,” (or, two of your peers in your WhatsApp group), if you are talking to a head of operations at a bank, for instance. Just like the lady asking about skin, this query is also specific; it zeroes in on a particular space and makes it easy to get a useful response.

What is social interaction?

How do I demonstrate? For ‘phone lovers, how do you show off your new tool? Your eyes are alive with enthusiasm as you take your audience through the features of what your gadget can do. For the technological laggards (like me) you even take a photo, convert it into a pdf document and email it to us while we watch. And in that instant you show us the benefits of having that phone. And then you are asked to do a presentation to a prospect, and you mentally remove your t-shirt and jeans and clad in a three piece suit-and your thought process freezes in place.

Don’t overthink it. What is sales interaction

How do I negotiate? How do you bargain with the hawker, the stall attendant, the landlord? You understand his position, understand yours, and then you talk your way through it. You may never have thought about, it but that’s what goes through your mind every time you start negotiating. Then the bank calls you because you have missed three consecutive loan installments and you freeze in panic-and your mind follows suit.

Don’t overthink it. At the end of the day, selling is a basic human interaction. Learn from social relations and blend them into professional ones and be amazed by the result. 

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