Audrey Chapman is Director of The Sales Resolution and author of LOVE SELLING, how to sell without selling out. An accomplished trainer, coach and speaker she has spent almost three decades applying, teaching and improving the philosophy and process outlined in this book. From start-ups through to complex sales environments the LOVE SELLING method gets outstanding sales results for her clients.
As you can imagine, we get pitched a lot of business books here at My Business Bookclub HQ. So why did we pick this one? Well, clearly, Audrey is very good at what she does! First, she sent us a beautifully packaged book – it was impossible not to notice it. And once we looked through it, the content was good. A lot of it common sense, but its always useful to be reminded of those things you know you should do, but probably don’t. Second, she followed up with a phone call. And true to her advice, it wasn’t a smarmy, salesy, pitchy type of call. She was charming and likeable from the off. And so, it worked! Below are the results of our interview with Audrey.
Why did you decide to write this book?
I decided to write the book as a way to the neutralise the fear of selling I had seen in so many business people I met. Whether these people were in sales already or needed to sell for their businesses, the fear was real and completely disabling.
Having been in sales management for a couple of decades I continually noticed that the perception of working in sales is often one of embarrassment, awkwardness and a fear of being called “a sales person”. Mostly this came from a belief that in order to be a ‘good’ sales person one has to con, trick and manipulate a situation in order to get ‘the sale’.
After decades of teaching people how to sell with ease; where no cons were required, no trickery was needed and manipulating a situation just wasn’t required, I just had to write this book.
LOVE SELLING gets to the heart of how to sell without selling out.
Tell us about your most memorable sale.
My most memorable sale; gosh there have been many – ranging from actual transactional sales all the way through to selling to my son that it really was a good time to do his homework!
I guess the most memorable has to be many years ago when I was invited to attend a job interview. I really wanted this job, it was likely to be a significant springboard in my career and I wanted to do absolutely everything I possibly could in order to secure it.
A panel of 4 interviewers questioned me relentlessly for 2.5 hours and then I had to deliver a sales presentation.
It would have been so easy to just tell them what I thought they wanted to hear, but I stayed true to myself and didn’t choose that route. Instead, I delivered my presentation and focused on what I genuinely believed would transform their business and decisions I would take if I worked with them.
They ‘bought me’ and I enjoyed 10 very successful years working with that business.
I think when you’re selling ‘you’ that’s probably the toughest. For someone, or in this case a panel of 4, to say yes or possibly no to proceeding with your solution can feel threatening so the urge to sell-out can be quite intense.
What’s the single biggest obstacle most entrepreneurs have to overcome, when it comes to selling?
I think it’s difficult to narrow it down to the single biggest obstacle because in all situations there are many variables and nuances. However, one of the most common obstacles most entrepreneurs could do well by overcoming is the blinkered approach to getting their point across.
Let me clarify.
The strength and hugely positive qualities of most entrepreneurs is that they tend to be so focused, so driven, so determined, so ahead of their time with a particular proposition, that frequently this is the reason they create success. So it’s a fabulous positive.
On the flip side of this quality lies the drawback. Being so focused, so driven and so determined can at times lead to the entrepreneur not listening to the needs of others such as their prospective clients or customers. In not listening fully the entrepreneur misses the key requirements of their potential new clients and the outcome is often then not straight-forward. Or it takes a lot longer than it would have done by simply slowing down a little and just listening.
So, I guess it’s about entrepreneurs walking the highly sensitive tightrope of balance. Keeping the focus high AND taking the pace down a little to listen too.
What advice would you give to a business owner looking at hiring a salesperson for the first time?
My advice to a business owner looking at hiring a salesperson for the first time (or any other time) is twofold.
- Clarify the traits you wish to import into your business.
- Make sure that the candidate is doing the talking, not the interviewer.
Be absolutely clear what it is you want your new sales person to achieve. This will lead you to the kind of traits you will want your ideal candidate to possess. Taking a step further, in terms of experience and capability; what is absolutely essential for this candidate to have and what would be a ‘nice to have’.
So often a novice interviewer of sales folk will get sucked into a great chat with the candidate and focus is lost on what skills the candidate actually has. Spending time being very clear on the desired traits and capabilities prior to the interview process makes all the difference and reduces the chances of the interviewer making a poor decision.
Creating a process where all candidates are interviewed in the same fashion will add further structure and will also assist the interviewer in reviewing the candidates as objectively as possible.
We’re hearing a lot about inbound marketing these days. What impact do you believe the micro-targeting of great content will have on traditional sales practices?
I am so glad you’ve asked me this question!
If we can for one moment consider creating the opportunity for our clients/customers to ‘buy’ as opposed to us ‘selling’ to them, you have your answer.
LOVE SELLING has at its core a proven system that an interaction does not become a successful sale because of ‘closing’. The interaction becomes a sale because of a desire to deliver an ‘opening’ to a client so we can understand what they want and need and what’s truly important to them.
So yes, and double yes; serving is the only way for us to shift our way into successful sales and a key way to do this is through delivering great content in our marketing. If we don’t, we stay in the old paradigm of simply flogging wares.
Traditional sales practices won’t stand a chance and will wither if the consumer is not given a good reason to engage. For me the ONLY way to sell, both for now and continued sales growth is to OPEN rather than the CLOSE the sale.