My colleague Andy recently was describing his favorite job. He conducted campus tours at Hendrix College while a student there. He loved showing prospective students around the beautiful campus, getting to know them a bit and answering their questions. Knowing his exuberant personality and love for Hendrix, I felt he must have been a great success at it.
Me: What was your close rate?
Andy: What do you mean?
Me: If the average lifetime value of a student is $100,000 (4 years’ tuition plus alumni contributions later in life), you were a big ticket sales person. In a corporation, you’d have been in Business Development for Key Accounts.
Andy: Oh, I wasn’t selling.
Interesting, right? What was he doing? Showing the product to prospects, explaining its features and benefits, sharing stories about other “customers” and embodying (in himself) the college experience. If the prospects felt the offering was right for them, they would send a check to the college and close the deal.
Is it the absence of a bad polyester jacket, comb-over hairstyle and a used car lot that makes us feel that something is or isn’t selling?
I think it’s the mindset that defines what we expect selling to feel like. The mindset scares people away.
Just because it isn’t icky or pushy doesn’t mean it’s not selling. Selling doesn’t have to feel that way. In fact, enlightened selling is really more about offering.
Would you like to read more about that? (That’s an offer.)
What can you do to ensure the best results for enlightened selling?
- Learn the needs of your prospect. We’re not forcing anything on anyone. Attract prospects to you with lots of free information so they can learn whether your product or service is for them. Then ask questions to find out exactly how you can help them.
- Position what you’re offering in its best light.
You can certainly acknowledge limitations – “parking is limited on-campus” – but don’t dwell on the negatives. A brand evangelist like Andy will know all the negatives about the offering, but won’t consider any of them a big enough issue to affect his purchase.
Generously share the benefits your prospect receives. When you listen carefully to their needs, you can easily highlight aspects of your offer that will appeal to them.
- Ask for the sale. This seems to be the hardest part for reluctant sellers. It’s as if we destroy the magical bubble of non-selling when we finally have to ask for a decision.
Sometimes it’s hard to make decisions. People are waiting to be invited to take action. Try out phrases that work for you, so you feel you’re offering rather than selling.
Of course, at the college, it doesn’t feel like selling to ask, “So, do you think our school is for you?”
What if you took the same attitude when closing your sale? If you truly listen to someone’s needs and enthusiastically explain the benefits of your offering, why not just ask,
“So, do you think [our offering] would work for you?” If you want to avoid the yes or no option as most sales people do, you could try,
“How do you think our offering would work for you?”
Incidentally, the college told Andy the year he did tours was one of the most successful for enrollment. ;)
Photo credit: ehnmark