How to Sell Anyone

20140812-HowToSellAnyoneOne of the questions I am often asked when I do sales training is “how can I sell to every prospect?”  My response is “why do you want to sell to every prospect?”  Then I get a bunch of blank stares like I’m an idiot.  Wouldn’t every sales person want to sell to every possible prospect?  Well maybe but that’s a big maybe.  In order to answer this question we’d have to define ‘possible prospect’ and then define if this possible prospect is realistically a prospect.  I don’t want to spend your time defining possible prospect or realistic prospect.   Perhaps in a future article we can bounce around some ideas.  What I’d like to talk about today is can you sell to everyone and is that a reasonable goal.

Sales Goal:  Sell to Everyone

I’m a great believer in setting sales goals.  Not just goals for production but goals for every sales interaction.  It’s easy to get discouraged when you hear a bunch of nos but if you have multiple goals for every contact you make then all can be successful.  But thinking one of those goals should be that you can and should sell to anyone and everyone is faulty thinking, and likely to have you end up frustrated and often disappointed.  I come from the premise that not everyone needs my product or service but even those that do may have other options to satisfy their needs that don’t include me.  For instance when I was in recruiting it would have been easy to believe that every company, however large or small could use my services.  And that would have been true at least conceptually.  However I wasn’t the right resource for all or even most of them and I was content with that.  What I wanted was to have companies who had a need for a senior level executive use me.  They may only use me once or twice a year and that was exactly what I wanted.  I wanted them to see me as ‘the girl they used for special needs.’  This allowed me to have exclusive relationships with them, they didn’t argue about the fees I charge and I made big money…all perfect for me.

How Do You Know Who to Sell to?

If we assume we can’t and shouldn’t expect to sell to everyone, how do you know who you should sell to?  Looking back at the example above, I had determined that rather than have a company use me to fill dozens of positions a year, I wanted them to use me for only a couple of key positions a year?  Why?  Because it reduced the number of competitors, it eliminated fee resistance, they saw me in a different light and thus I was able to secure exclusives with them…lots of good stuff.  Your product or service may not allow you to be as selective but I’m betting if you decide what the key factors are in determining who you want as customers the rest is easy.

Selling to everyone shouldn’t be the goal.  Setting yourself up with customers as the one they go to for specific needs, where you can build high trust relationships should be the goal.  They can only happen if you set your sights on the type of customer you want first and then go after them.  There is no such thing as customers for life but knowing who you want to target certainly helps in acquiring customers and keeping them for a long time.


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