By Deborah Shane, Social Media, Career Transition, Professional Branding, Writer, Speaker, Podcast Host

“Sales are contingent upon the attitude of the salesman, not the attitude of the prospect.” W Clement Stone

Not only the attitude of the salesperson but their EQ, intuition and ability to educate prospects, not talk them into or cajole them into something they don’t really need or want.

Just happened recently at an event, where someone new to the area and group was relentless about how their product was the perfect solution and they found any opportunity to reiterate that. Got annoying really.

Would have been much smarter for them to be more interested in getting to know us, rather than trying to sell us.

“When was the last time you bought something or gave someone an appointment from a cold call by phone, or a drop into your office unannounced without an appointment, referral or relationship?”

The old smile and dial, drop into as many offices as we could in a building or territory is basically done, finito, but we still canvas to make connections and find prospects, just with different tactics and tools.

Today, the key driver of sales is in educating the customer about why they should buy not only what we offer, but that we are the best person to deliver it, help service it and are a great partner. This approach is more long term relationship thinking.

The pressure, hype, arm-twisting and flat out manipulation approach is gone, passé, out. Today’s selling environment and sales experience is about educating, informing, illuminating and inspiring.

Thanks to content marketing with social media, blogs, video, webinars, whitepapers, workshops, books and ebooks, sales is an education business.

People want the relationship, back story, the results, the value, process, studies, feedback and the benefits on how things can change lives and make them better – not empty hype in their sales relationships.

Inform and Inspire People
The more you inform and inspire, the more sales you will ultimately close. What do you do, or what can and does your product or service do, that can help people solve a problem or pain?

Share as much information as you can consistently about this both from documenting your results and testimonials, as well as your customers and industry. Cite the most current examples of studies, surveys and trends. Two excellent sources I use and reference and, in addition to your top industry websites that regularly report.

Generate Interest
When you know the psycho-graphics of your customer (lifestyle, values and attitudes) you can craft the language and messaging targeted directly to them making the case for why
you and your product make sense for them. ‘Know thy customer’ should be the most important information you discover. What drives and moves them based on their age, stage in life and lifestyle.

The Value Add is YOU
Create much more than just the “selling” of your product or service. Add in YOU, your experience, expertise and your connections as value add. Your personal brand, reputation and credibility are valuable currency. Yep it’s what you know but who you are for sure. People do business with people they like first then come to trust.

Share Your Human Capital
Our cumulative life experiences and the inherent knowledge we gain from it, our “human capital” is meant to be shared not horded. The more you use it to educate and inform, talk about your unique point of view, what you do, why you love your business and how it has helped others, the more sales you will ultimately make.

Inspire Action
Ultimately, you want to inspire people to take more action, be it request more information, ask more questions, generate interest in you and your network, or the ultimate goal, getting a meeting, making the sale. Be patient, persistent and proactive.

Use Results and Testimonials
An educated, happy customer is your best sales tool. Always educate prospects using results and testimonials. Satisfied customers that become your advocates and cheerleaders are golden and infectious!

Develop Referrals
Spend more time asking for and developing referrals from your community, but equally generous in referring and connecting others.

Get personal with people off line. The heaviest thing for most salespeople to pick up is the phone. Build in phone time as well as face to face meetings to advance relationships. Educate people more personally. Don’t get lazy with emails and texts. Pick up the phone and meet face to face.

Without sales there is no business.

Sales is an opportunity, not a punishment or obligation.

It’s time to stop giving selling a bad rap, shift your attitude and educate your way into making more sales.