Selling Ugly

“Making money is ultimately boring. You find a formula that works, and hit the repeat button.”

Sir Richard Branson

Brad Gilbert was a handy tennis player – never among the superstars but always around the top ten. But as a coach, he was phenomenal. He believes in the psychology of sport, and was instrumental in quelling Andre Agassi’s inner demons.

Brad Gilbert believed in “winning ugly”, and wrote a great book about it. Winning ugly is all about making the other guy lose, which is of course the same as winning. Gilbert was brilliant at keeping the ball in play, and slowing down the tempo to frustrate opponents into losing.

When Agassi played the almost unstoppable Pete Sampras, Gilbert encouraged him to lose the desire to hit the big winners. Instead he advised Agassi to simply get it back over the net and just make Sampras play that extra ball. It was exactly the right advice for the flamboyant Agassi. Pretty doesn’t always win.

Reading about Gilbert reminded me about the opening quote of this post, by Richard Branson, taken from his first book. You see, we sales people love the beautiful selling – the big pitches, the creative deal making, the exciting stretch and challenge that takes us out of our comfort zones.

Which is all good stuff. But it doesn’t always pay the bills. Exceeding your sales targets can be easier by “selling ugly”. Here are our top tips:

1) Double down on your best deals: Work out you’re the best deal shape – clients you can sell easily to, who get you, and with the best margin. And hit the replicate button. Find out more in tip 7 of this article on What I Would Tell my 28 Year old Self About Sales.

2) Don’t reinvent just because it sounds repetitive to you: We see it all the time – salespeople who hit on the perfect approach and change it just for the sake of change. Don’t tinker with a winning formula. Work out how to have the same conversation more often. You can get creative in other aspects of your life.

3) Focus on the basics, not the fancy stuff: Salespeople, particularly the experienced ones, seek out advanced and quite complicated ways of selling because they think they have the basics covered. But sure enough, the quest for the ‘cream on the cake’ can often neglect the cake. What do the basics look like? How’s this for starters:

a) Get to the point quicker: You may be speaking too much. Try this for a structure: Statement, Example, Question. It will help you to vary your conversation and keep it engaging for your customers.

b) Get your pitch right: Your pitch needs to be simple enough to be understood by a six year old. And it needs to make the buyer excited, to move them to take action. Is your pitch as clear and memorable as it could be?

c) Find amazing proof points: Your customers need to hear that other customers have been incredibly successful using your products and services. You can thread nuggets of proof through your conversations that will get heads nodding and wallets opening.

d) Study your customer journey: Exactly how do your customers go through their buying cycle? And how can you be there in a clear and persuasive way at every milestone?

e) Be a social media beast: Dedicate 30 minutes every day to linking to influential people and learning the rhythm of your industry. Become a thought-leader by publishing articles and soaking up the language and challenges of your customers.

Remember, making money is boring, but someone has to do it! Selling ugly might just be the best advice you ever hear!

At Natural, we do the basics really well. If you want the fancy stuff, go elsewhere. If you want to sell more, go Natural. Our flagship programme, Natural LIVE will get you a 22-1 Return on Investment. Now that’s pretty!

If you’re in technology sales and want to make sure your telesales team is playing at high performance levels, come along to our Breakfast Roundtable in London or Reading. Or call us on 020 7043 1582 right now.

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