The first week I went to the dark side and chose to sell advertising rather than buy it, a friend had me watch Glengary Glen Ross. Check out the video below where Alec Baldwin assumes fear is the best source of inspiration. He is awful. Needless to say, I spent the next month freaking out not knowing what I had gotten myself into. This is why so many of us fear sales. We don't want to be perceived as ruthless and cutthroat. The thing is, for any entrepreneur, the most important skill they can have is their ability to sell... and there are ways to sell that feel more like serving. And they work.
There are so many latest and greatest ways to pitch. However, I was curious to see if there were new less male (dominate the meeting, own the frame, show your power) ways of selling. SPIN Selling explains the science behind consultative selling. Pitch Anything explains how to use influence, the right messaging that lands and setting and holding the frame. I'll explain all of these at a later date and how to incorporate different elements into your close.
Tim Fereiss's Always Be Closing: Y Combinator and The Art of the Pitch is also a great article that touches on many of the things that work and don't and it's specific to the startup experience.
And, it looks like there really is a case for being more lady like or let's just say considerate when it comes to sales.
A recent Harvard Business Review article, How Women Decide by Cathy Benko, vice chairman and a managing principal at Deloitte LLP and Bill Pelster, former chief learning officer and a principal at Deloitte Consulting, shows the benefits of letting go of the dominate or die psychology of sales. Instead, they focus on utilizing the behaviors that are innate for women. As more and more women become the decision makers, it's best to model the way they show up and present in a way that they're more likely to receive.
Here's what they found, "We also learned that women see a big meeting with a potential service provider as a chance to explore options in collaboration with an expert resource, while men see that event as a near-final step in the process, when they are narrowing down and choosing among options."
"When presenting to men, we find that they look for holes or weaknesses in our arguments. Again, it’s part of the winnowing process. But women continually seek a creative solution—listening for ideas, adjusting their understanding of what is important, and asking for relevant details."
So today, while interacting with prospective clients, we know to keep asking ourselves, “What’s the deciding factor?” And we make this explicit in our presentations. “We understand you are on a journey to find the best partner,” we tell prospects, “and we recognize that your perspective will evolve as you speak with us and our competitors.”
Our world is becoming more collaborative and the sales process can and should feel like the first step in creating a shared story. Always Be Closing does work. Always be a valued partner works best.