The Science of Sales

ImageIf you view sales as a science experiment – there are four reactants that, when combined, result in your sales product. These are:

 People: This is about the relationship between you, your team and the client.  This is about developing and maintaining trust and credibility. 

 Purpose: This is the why – why you wish to do business with your client/prospect and vice versa.  This is can measure the ‘meaningfulness’ of the relationship.

 Product: This is what you are offering and what it provides to your client/prospect

 Price: This is what is costs your clients/prospect to do business with you.

 The one thing that does vary is the volume of the beaker you’re putting the ingredients in – this is finite.

 What does all this mean?

In short, as a sales professional you have to choose the most appropriate mix of reactants to result in a success outcome for you and your client. There are some interesting things to consider here:

  1.  If you choose not to use People or Purpose – your beaker is full of Price and Product. This may work for you based on what you’re selling – but make sure it is a conscious and considered strategy to not use People or Product.
  2. The more you fill your beaker with People or Purpose, the less you have to use Product and Price
  3. The order is also important like any good experiment. Combining the wrong can be disastrous as can adding them to soon.  For example – adding Price soon after People can negate the effects of People or adding Product first can mean you can’t add People and Purpose later.

 As a sales professional, you expertise lies in choosing when to use the above sales ingredients in the right mix at the right time. Also, you appreciate that the more of People and Purpose you use – the less you have to use Price and Product, sometimes if at all.

 The most difficult factor is it is your client who determines whether the combination is successful – your biggest focus is responding to their feedback and adjusting the combination as you go.


Who’s Memorable?


What creates a memory?  What makes something stick in a clients mind as important?


Often we struggle as the very memories we hold as dear to ourselves, believing they shaped who we are, as milestones in life or other key life experiences aren’t remembered as vividly (or at all) by those we know or who even participated.  We’ve all experienced these ‘Remember when…’ conversations.


The reason is plainly obvious – we remember them because they were important to us – our memory system opted to catalogue them at the time or on reflection because our (un)concious put a ‘bookmark’ there for future reference.  Others don’t remember them because they were probably significantly less important to them.


Why is this important in sales?  It is not important to recall and/or focus on what is important or memorable to us but to focus on the experience of the client.


You want the client to leave with a strong memory/connection – what you remember is important, but no where near as much as the memories of the client – as it is their memories which will reopen the door, not yours.


Next time you leave a meeting, don’t think about how you thought the meeting went, think about what your client thought…

People > Product

Many people in sales are sitting in roles because they have to – often more comfortable with the admin side of their role than the real purpose.  Often they’ll moan about all the admin and routine, but take this away from them and they don’t know what to do.


Selling and sales is hard – it’s a skill that’s practiced.  It requires the ability to be mentally agile – to adjust to your audiences cadence, tone and preferences.  It requires you to be able to draw on a vast repertoire of knowledge to demonstrate not just your understanding of a business, but how you can use this to add value to a business.  It requires you to be able to draw upon your network to help a business solve problems.


Most importantly though, it requires you to want to do these things.


I don’t sell – I talk to people who I believe I will enjoy working with to see what I can do, based on my knowledge, expertise and network, to help them.  I don’t really care about our products and services – I care about what using them can do for a client.


If I can’t add value – I am quite happy to walk away.  If my advice is used to better their current relationship – brilliant.  It will always be paid forward.


If I enjoy working with people, I think about them.  If I enjoy working with people, they have my attention.  If I enjoy working with people – I trust that, at some point, I will demonstrate enough value , they will enjoy working with me.


Don’t do business with people you don’t enjoy working with…it is too hard and no fun for either of you.


Be honest with yourself and ask – if it weren’t for work, would I bother?  If the answer is no – reassess.


You can’t enjoy sales if you can’t enjoy the people!  Sales is people – not product.

What Do You Want?

Have you ever asked yourself if your client/intermediary knows why you’re there?


We often form an agenda for a meeting, whether formally written or just thought through. Fewer of us will table it for the client, fewer still will put their true intent on the agenda.


Ask yourself does my client/prospect/intermediary know my ‘real’ agenda?


Also, ask yourself a more difficult question, what is my clients agenda?


If the answers to these aren’t aligned – where is the meeting going to go?….this is why stating your agenda is important.


If you want a clients business, a referral etc – ask your client. Selling isn’t about deception and obscure techniques. We often dance around the simple question ‘I would love to work with your business, what do I need to do to achieve this?’ (or similar) rather than just ask it outright….





Emotively, sales is quite a roller coaster.  We win some, we lose some and something there’s a no-result.  It can be played out in an instant, over days, weeks, months or years. 


Similarly, we usually either report to someone who monitors our results or we see them in our top or bottom line.


The question to ask ourselves is are we trying so hard for the results of succeeding or to avoid failing?


Sales is, unfortunately, often an activity taken because we are ‘told’ to, or ‘have’ to to hit targets or ‘meet our numbers’.  These people are selling because they are fearful of failure – they don’t want to miss their targets or be the bottom of a leader board.  It isn’t done with passion – it is done through necessity, fear….gritted teeth. 


This behaviour also means they often to just enough to avoid failure.  They aren’t actually selling for the rewards of selling.


This is quite emotionally draining – they are undertaking something they often don’t like to avoid the negative repercussions of not achieving something.  They have the wrong motivation.


Now, what if you could trust so implicitly in your sales process that your targets are not an issue.  You’ll hit them, on average, all the time.  If this fear of failure or losing was taken away?  This isn’t saying you will win every sale – but you will always achieve the goals your organisation sets of you?  Would you do anything differently?


This comes through realising sales is important, working out how to do it in your role and planning – sales isn’t luck, it is a discipline.  Good sales people aren’t continually lucky – they know why and how they need to sell. 


This is where you want to be – celebrating every month/week/whatever your successes – not wiping the sweat off your brow that your stayed ahead of the wolves on your heels for another month.


Sales Deconstructed

As a sales person – you only need to answer 4 simple questions (and act on them of course)…


1. Am I interacting with the right people?
2. Am I approaching them in the right way?

3. Am I conveying the right message?


These are important – very important.   Then, once right, ask:


4. Am I undertaking the right volume of the above?


Sales is simple – it boils down to telling enough of the right people the right things to demonstrate your value to them.


Too many sales people spend time on people who either won’t ‘buy’ from them or have little current and future value.  This isn’t saying that they are bad clients – just not right for you.  You also need to approach people in the right manner.  This isn’t just the method of approaching them (phone, email, face to face) but how you do this.  People do business with people – you need to connect with the person no matter what medium you use to reach out with them.  It is about people – it is about them as a person and as a representative of their organisation.


Similarly, it is important to ensure your message is right – that is ‘of value to your client/prospect’.  This is important, the message changes based on the person(s) you’re meeting with and, even worse, based on their particular requirements at any given point of time (eg – your message needs to change as their business/personal needs do).


Finally, you need to ensure you’re doing enough of the above to maintain a continual pipeline of business.  You will (read:should) have people at differing stages of the sales process – therefore it is important to ensure you have enough activity underway at any given point in time.


So – next time you’re thinking sales, planning or heading in to a meeting ask yourself:


Is the person(s) I’m meeting the right person?  (can they/should they use me? Can I solve a problem for them or realise an opportunity? Can they and will they make a decision?)


Am I approaching them in the right way? (am I connecting with them? how do I do this? can I be introduced to them by someone who trusts them and is an advocate of me?)


Am I showing this person the right message? (what is the benefit for them?  Why use me?)


Do I have right volume of people/prospects in this process?  (work this down from your outcomes)

This can be used to strategically plan your work by asking the same questions at a higher level. 

It is important not just to focus on the quantity – but the quality of your activity otherwise you risk wasting motion.  We often leave a meeting thinking ‘that was a waste of time’.  If we’re thinking that, what was the client thinking?  This is because you got one or both of the first two points wrong


Stop worrying about your targets!  This is just the score card.  In reality, some times you’ll hit it, some times you won’t. 


Rather than worry about not hitting your targets – think about WHY you aren’t?  Results aren’t a factor of luck – in the short term, sometimes, continually though, never. 


Hitting targets regularly is about behaviors.  Your target and results are just the sales scoreboard.  They just measure whether you’re behaviors are working.  Your success can be distilled down to a simple factor of ‘am I doing enough of the right behaviors?’. 


Am I calling enough prospects/clients? 

Am I following people up properly? 

Am I working my pipeline properly?


Break your targets down – not to a daily target – but a daily set of behaviors that, if you do and do properly, will ensure you hit target. 


Worrying about targets is wasted motion.  Instead trust you are doing the right things, properly, and your targets will take care of themselves.


You can control behaviours on a daily basis – you can seldom control your targets that intimately.