Do you want to know how to get over the fear of selling?
Listen as sales technician and Aviva Publishing author, Greg Andersen shares his secret sauce on how best to sell when you don't like to sell.
In this week's powerful episode "How to Best Get Over the Fear of Selling" you will discover..
Susan Friedmann: Welcome to Book Marketing Mentors, the weekly podcast where you learn proven strategies, tools, ideas, and tips from the masters. Every week, I introduce you to a marketing master who will share their expertise to help you market and sell more books today. My special guest is a sales technician, for the past 30 years Greg Andersen has spent his time building, cultivating, and nurturing his client base resulting in a many long time customers in a variety of industries. Among his unique strengths are his uncanny abilities to dig up new business, uncover customer's needs, and provide solutions that create long lasting value. Greg loves to share his passion and advice. And it was at his friend's advice and encouragement that he wrote his most recent book, Small Business sales Without the Fear, so that he could share his secret process with small business owners around the world. Greg is an Aviva Publishing author, and it's such a pleasure always to welcome my authors for being guest experts on the show. So, Greg, thank you. Appreciate you being here.
Greg Andersen: Yeah, thanks so much for having me, glad to be here.
Susan Friedmann: Sales and authors, those somehow don't always go well together. One of the most common, I don't want to call it complaints, but a challenge that authors have when they come to me is that they don't like to sell themselves. Talk to us more about that process. Your book is about selling without fear. How can we get rid of that feeling of fear in sales?
Greg Andersen: That is a really good question sometimes the fear of failure is the same as a fear of success, believe it or not. People look at fear differently. I think a lot of times, especially when it comes to people who think they're business owners, not salespeople, which can be synonymous, is that they feel like that's not the kind of personality they have. They just don't really understand how to get started. If that makes any sense.
Susan Friedmann: It does. I think that's it. I mean, it's usually the fear of the unknown.
Greg Andersen: True, but it's also the fear of what you do know. And what you do know is that seven o'clock interruption at dinner from a telemarketer. You do know about that knock on your door from a person who's selling products at your doorstep. So sometimes the known element is all you know, and that's fearful because you would not want to be knocking on doors at six o'clock at night. If that's your perspective of sales, that's going to be scary.
Susan Friedmann: And I'm going to add to that is the idea of the used car salesman, that sleazy look that people seem to associate with sales. How do we get rid of that perception and sort of put something good about the idea of selling that would want me to do it?
Greg Andersen: That's funny. I think most of all business owners from my research, they start throwing business for a variety of reasons, but a lot of times it's to control their own future. They've worked for people for a while, and they're really self-starters. I think the idea of controlling your destiny is something that small business owners tend to embrace. And they're a little more independent. And I think that if you just look at sales as part of the business process, not as some standalone, scary thing out there, you have a product, you have a business, you have customers, sales is a logical part of that process. You can have a great product sitting in your warehouse, but if nobody knows about it, it doesn't really matter, it won't succeed.
You have to have a way to get out there and meet people, talk to people. And I will never use the word persuade. Persuasion to me is kind of a difficult word to use because I don't agree with the word persuasion, but to have them understand how your product can solve a problem for them. And so you have to be able to talk about that. And you have to feel comfortable talking whether it's on the phone or in person, I think the more you do it, the easier it gets.
Susan Friedmann: I think that's always true. The more you do it. I also believe there has to be an element, especially for authors, a passion for their message. I mean, you have a passion for sales, and your techniques, your process. Talk to us more about that element of it. The passion.
Greg Andersen: If you knew my background a little better, you'd know that I'm the last person you'd ever think would be in sales for a career. I kind of fell into it. I'm not your traditional sales person, over the last 30 years. I tend to look at my job is to help people. I help them fix problems they know about, but more importantly problems they don't know about that they do have. It's that process of getting involved, understanding fully what their needs, goals, pain, and objectives are of a customer, and then helping them get a vision, or paint a picture or a roadmap of how to get to where they want to be. There's current state and there's future state. And you always are trying to get to that future state, but you've got to start somewhere.
And I just love the little intricacies of each individual businesses is a little bit different, even though there's a lot of common sales principles involved. There's a little bit of differences in everybody's small business. So you have to take that into account, but it's fun to learn about new business. I have 88 current customers in my day job. They're all different industries. I get a plethora of new, and neat, and interesting things with all those customers.
Susan Friedmann: Let's talk about how you uncover your customer needs, and what are those ways that our authors can use sort of similar processes to uncover needs for people who may need what they have to offer.
Greg Andersen: That's a really good question and a long answer if I'm not careful. So I'll try to keep this as short as possible because there's a lot behind it. I would say, honestly, what I do is focus on what I call a needs-based approach. I always say don't sell features, well benefits. Don't sell wants, sell needs or talk about needs and wants. When it comes to needs, customers always need the lowest price, but sometimes they want the lowest price, but they need a faster delivery, or they need a result of reading your book. They need to grow their business, but whatever the result they need is. Figuring out good questions to ask your customer when you're face to face or on the phone, that gets them talking. And once they get talking, you go into aggressive listening mode. And you're looking for your next question in their discussion while they're talking, you're taking notes.
Once they can come up with a point where you see another question you dig in, like, I really need to save some money. Why is that? I'm going to go out of business if I don't make more money. So you start digging. Why, why, why? And you figure out, okay, they need X or they need Y. Then that's really what you're trying to figure out is they want to make more money, but what do they need to do? What do they need right now? And that need is what really drives decisions and drives action. That makes sense?
Susan Friedmann: It does. And several points that you bring up, I mean, first of all, the whole element or characteristic, the skill of listening. So often we want to jump in and give people solutions before we really totally understand what their needs are. Would you agree with that?
Greg Andersen: Oh yeah. I call that ready, fire, aim. Or I call it another term, a little more flowery, called show up and throw up, where you show up to a meeting and you start going into sales mode about a week too early, because you really don't know what they need yet. You mentioned used car salesman. I've had car salesmen and try to sell me cars that have absolutely nothing to do with what I'm looking for, but they don't stop to ask a few good key questions to narrow down their efforts and be more relevant. I think you're right. Aggressive listening, because the minute they say something you can key on this is, oh, that's important. Why is that important? The minute you get to that, why is that important? For example, I had a customer once tell me, they gave me a job, a project in my day job.
And I was like $10,000 high on a $20,000 job. And at the end of the job, I said, "Why did you award it to me?" He said, because "You said you could deliver on time." Had nothing to do with price. It was my first time with this job, this customer. And I always assumed price is important when I was a young 22 year old. And so I just assumed price. No, he said, "You know what? My boss is always yelling at me when the jobs come in late, you said you'd deliver on time. You guaranteed it." That's why I won the work. You have to be careful that you don't assume, you actually listen to what they need. And this can translate into any business for an author as well. What does your audience need? What are they really looking for?
Susan Friedmann: I always loved that word, assume. When I was in sales, it was said to me, "It breaks down. Don't make an ass out of you and me." You have to be very careful on that word assume.
Greg Andersen: Usually me. You can make what I call educated guesses because there's some industries, some customers, and some demographics where you can say, "Well, I'm pretty sure this is true. I'm pretty sure that's true." And you can... Don't make the assumption, just make an educated guess and confirm that don't assume it. Because you could be right, you could be wrong, and you could be going down a rabbit hole that will never yield a result.
Susan Friedmann: There's also something else that you said earlier, and that is the difference between wants and needs. So I might come to you with a certain want, but it's not necessarily what I need. Help us with that element and how you determine you're trying to give me what I want as well as what I need, or what I think I want.
Greg Andersen: Exactly. And that's a process. And that's what I call the consultative process, which is the needs analysis that I work through with my customers. You have to work through a process. For example, you ask a customer, what do you want? And I'm just going to use my day job as an example. I want the lowest price. Okay. Then I go to the next question. If my price is the lowest, but I deliver late, is that okay? Well, no, it has to be on time. It's a trade show. Then what's more important. It has to be on time. So you want the lowest price, but you need it to be on time. Is that true? They say, "Yes." Confirmed need. You just confirmed a need. You didn't assume it, you didn't guess. Okay. What if my product's on time, and my price is the lowest, my quality is not very good.
Oh, that won't work. So you can see where I'm going here. You can go through a list of questions. And then what I do for a living is I figure out what the true needs are. Everybody wants the fastest, quickest, best quality, lowest price, yesterday. But there are other things that cost more money than you would think. Being two days late to two day trade shows is never going to fly. No matter how much you save. Price is always a starting point, but you've got to dig down and understand what the true needs are. And that only happens with a discussion, or it can be email. It can be phone, it can be in person, but you got to figure out what is paramount.
Susan Friedmann: Let's put on your author hat and talk about the idea of what can our authors do to help sell... I don't want to just sell the book. It's selling the message or the value that I might bring with the book that I have. What advice would you give to our authors?
Greg Andersen: I think you're right about that. I think everybody falls into that trap of selling a thing, and sometimes you need to sell what the thing does. You need to talk about what the thing does in your book. Because along the same lines as an author, you can go out and try to sell books individually, but it'll take you forever just to get rid of any books in your garage, if that's where you have them. But sometimes you have to look at how you're trying to sell a book. Sometimes you're trying to sell a book to somebody who's a small business owner, when you're better off, maybe partnering with a small business association in your state and getting them to adopt your book and as a free part of joining the membership.
Now you've got 6,000 potential customers. If your association has 6,000 members, instead of trying to sell 6,000 people, you're selling one organization and you're partnering and they understand the value of your book, if you've communicated it well. And now you're leveraging your time. You look at different ways to sell. You can sell one book, you can sell 6,000 books, you can sell it a case of books, however you want to approach it. Does that make sense?
Susan Friedmann: It certainly does. And I remember with my first book, I thought I just don't want to sell onesies and twosies. I want to be able to sell them in bulk. That's what I looked for. And talking about trade shows earlier, giving books away at trade shows and having a company buy multiple copies of your book to give away at a show. What better way to sell them in quantities?
Greg Andersen: Definitely. Well, I use the analogy in the industry I work for my day job, which is printing, is that you can go out and you can call on 55 different customers, if you'd like. Or you can go to one ad agency and they have 150 customers under their roof, where do you want to spend your time? And how do you want to spend it? As authors, oftentimes, it's not the only thing you do. Sometimes it is, and that's your full-time job, but you've got to be efficient. You've got to be effective. You can't spend $10 to sell a $9 book.
Susan Friedmann: Exactly. I started off with a sale of a thousand books, and then that was repeated because they liked it so much. And then I thought, well, I'm onto a good thing here. Let me see who else might be interested in this book. And I'm working in within a niche market. And I ended up selling a quarter of a million books and they repeated that order. It took as much effort to sell that as it does to sell half a dozen books. Yes. Highly recommend going the bulk route, wherever you can. What about mistakes, Greg? I mean, this is an area that is just sort of overflowing with mistakes. What are some of the common ones that you find?
Greg Andersen: Oh boy, that's a long list. The first mistake I come across when I talk to small business owners is they don't see a need for sales in their business. They can say, "Well, sales, business is good right now." And I always say, "Yeah, do you have life insurance?" And they said, "Yeah." And I go, "Well, life's good right now. Why do you have life insurance?" Just to kind of poke a little bit. Things in business and life are good until they're not. If you have an emergency in your business, biggest customer leaves town. Maybe Walmart moves in next door, and you're a small local business or something like that. What are you going to do? What's your plan. It's kind of too late to have a plan if you're in the middle of a panic mode, you need to have things in motion or ready to go. And that's why I always say a small business owner can have a sales department of one person, them, but you have to have a process ready to go in place, and possibly going all the time, maybe slowly.
But the minute you wait till things are bad, you're desperate. And customers know that. That's a big mistake. I think the other one you mentioned earlier, I call it ready, fire, aim. And that is because there's a lack of sales experience sometimes with small business owners, they aren't formally trained in sales. They think when you meet a customer, always be selling. The ABC's are always be closing, isn't that an old sales thing.
Well, sometimes it's too early to sell. Sometimes you got to get to know somebody. You have to understand them, figure them out, figure out what they need and don't need, then at the right time, that's a key, the right, time you go into maybe the presentation mode, the sales mode, if you will. But doing it too early, almost cuts your odds in half immediately. They could be looking to buy a truck, and you're looking to buy a sedan.
Susan Friedmann: So that right time, can you elaborate on that a bit more? I know we've sort of, I think touched on it a little bit, but what advice, what sort of tips, is there sort of a sequence of tips that our authors could use to feel more comfortable with the whole sales process so that they know when that right time is?.
Greg Andersen: That is a question that is at the hub of many, many questions, but yes. And this goes back to what I call confirmed needs. When you're meeting with a client, let's say you're an author meeting with somebody who, to buy your books in bulk or to carry in their retail stores or whatever you're talking about with somebody. As you're going along, you may have one meeting or multiple meetings, but all along the way, you're gathering information and writing down confirmed needs. When you get three or four good confirmed needs, or you really understand their business at the same time, that's time to wrap it up and start making your presentation. And the right time to sell is during your presentation. And this is a whole different subject. But when you develop your presentation, as you can imagine, you now map all those needs you learned about back to your presentation, and your presentation is addressing their needs, not assuming their needs, addressing their needs.
They've already told you they want a certain price for your book. They want so many books available at a certain time. They want to have them distributed around the country. You've already nailed down what their needs are. Now, speak to those needs and how you're going to solve those needs. Then you basically come to agreement. You don't have to close the deal. If you've been paying attention, you just basically come to agreement that this is going to work and you move forward. I think that you've got to get to a point where you have enough need identified to feel comfortable presenting your solution.
Susan Friedmann: What I wrote down, as you were saying that was the whole idea of being scripted. What are your thoughts about being scripted here?
Greg Andersen: I'm not a big fan of being scripted as far as some of the traditional sales techniques for phone conversations. I don't think scripts are bad. I think if you're leaving voicemails or you're calling people on the phone, it's good to have some notes next to you, but I think you need to know your product and your, what I call, talk track, what you really kind of want to say, well enough that you can be a little bit fluid with it, and not seem like... We've all gotten calls where somebody's reading a script to us, and you're waiting for them to get done so you can interrupt them. I think scripts are good, within reason. Don't overuse them. It's like actors who need to memorize their lines. They can't just read their lines. They have to, at some point know them. So I think if it's your product and your business, you know your product, now you've got to make some bullet points and notes of what you want to hit on while you're talking.
Susan Friedmann: And as you're saying that the word confidence comes up for me. And I suppose with everything, it's just doing it over and over again, to feel confident, to know what works, what doesn't work. Would you agree with that?
Greg Andersen: Most definitely. It's funny. I heard a saying when I was young in sales, I'm going to butcher it, probably, but I'm going to give it a try. When we first start out in the sales process, we're consciously incompetent. As we move through the progression of practice, we become unconsciously competent. Does that make sense? So-
Susan Friedmann: It does, yes.
Greg Andersen: It's like anything else when you first start riding a bike, you're shaky, your arms are flexed, you're [inaudible 00:18:50], pretty soon you ride with no hands drinking a pop as a kid on your bike. At some point it becomes second nature and sales is just like that. I'm a pretty shy person when it comes right down to my personality, getting out and talking to people, didn't come naturally. But once you get some expertise, once you know your product, you're an author. You're an expert in the subject. You should have absolutely no problem talking confidently and building confidence as you go, because sales can make you feel less confident if you haven't been in it. But once you do it, it becomes kind of a rush. It's kind of fun. I really enjoy helping people. And that's how I view sales. I don't view it as making a sale, getting a commission, yahoo. I feel it viewed as helping people, do I get paid for it? Yep. But I'm helping people. I really am.
Susan Friedmann: Yeah. I think that's a lot of what authors feel is that they want to help people. They want to make a difference. They've got something that's of value that they know can help you.
Greg Andersen: Yes.
Susan Friedmann: It's just a matter of how do they present that in a way that doesn't sound as if you're throwing up on them.
Greg Andersen: Right. Also, how do you make sure when you approach somebody, they really have that need, they really value what you bring to the table. That's where the needs analysis and understanding, if you're talking to a book distributor or somebody who's going to carry your books, if you don't understand their needs and what their customer base is trying to do, and you don't have enough knowledge, then you won't be confident and you're not going to hit the mark.
Susan Friedmann: So there's an element of homework and research that has to be done before you even really get started to help with that confidence. Those are your tools, I would think, wouldn't you?
Greg Andersen: Oh yes. One of the things that someone once told me was I can't believe how much preparatory work I do before I even call somebody. It's amazing what you can find out, if you just do some research and homework about a customer. For example, when you're looking to develop a lead list of people to call don't go out and go to the phone book or the Yellow Pages, or the internet, and just make a list of people, look at your current customer base. Look at the people who tend to already like the services you provide, go out and look for people like that. You're an expert to them, so you're probably going to be an expert to the people you meet. So in my day job example, I have industry verticals. I have customers that are in finance, education, sports, you name it. When I want to look for new customers, I look for customers in those industry verticals, where I have success, I am an expert and I can prove it.
If I want to go out and talk about something in the medical field, I don't have any customers in the medical field. I'm going to be forging a new path. Look close to home, look in your own backyard first, and find out who likes your product, who uses your product, who has the need for the knowledge you possess, and then make that your target audience.
Susan Friedmann: I love that because you know how I feel about niche marketing, target marketing, that makes it so much easier than trying to put your book out there to the masses, and-
Greg Andersen: Definitely.
Susan Friedmann: Trying to sell it to the masses.
Greg Andersen: Definitely, I think that's the key. If you can find somebody in different niches that really appreciate your work, then you can literally say, for example if I do work for Microsoft and I talked to HP. I can say, "I'm an expert in that industry. I really am." It's hard to say that when you don't do any work in that industry, or if your book doesn't address a certain audience segment that you're talking to. Make it easy on yourself. That's how you also get more confidence and reduce the fear is by going into an area where you know you have experience, you know you have success and leveraging that.
Susan Friedmann: That's fabulous. I know that our listeners would love to know more about where could they find your book?
Greg Andersen: As you might've heard throughout this conversation, I'm kind of your untraditional sales rep. I don't even consider myself a sales rep by definition, but my books are available on Amazon. That's primarily where I sell them right now, because my book just came out not too long ago, and I do have a day job. So I need a way to have my books available. I can sell my books directly from my website and that is... I'll spell that out. It's pretty simple, Smallbusinesssaleswtf.com. But Amazon is probably the best place to go right now because I don't keep any real inventory on hand. Unless somebody wants a bulk order, then that's fine. And you can email me as well if you have questions at GetGreg@smallbusiness saleswithoutthefear.com. And I welcome calls by the way and emails. I love them.
Susan Friedmann: And we'll put those in the show notes and that's wonderful. Thank you, Greg. If you were to leave our listeners with a golden nugget, what would that be, Greg?
Greg Andersen: Golden nugget. That's a good one. There's so many in sales. Our industry is an industry of buzzwords and sayings and people often say to me, they're just flat out afraid to sell. And I can tell you this, I was too, when I started at age 24 out of college, but as I've gotten older and as I've written this book, I would say, well, let's do the math here. What's the alternative? What's more fearful? Learning how to sell, to grow and make your business more profitable and have it be around forever, or the alternative, which is not surviving? Look at all the small businesses these days that do not survive and why. I think, yeah, sales may be a little fearful at first, but anybody can do it and everybody should do it. But I would rather do that than I have to start a new business. Let's put it that way. So I think fear is relative. You can always find something more fearful than sales. Trust me, if I can do it, you can do it.
Susan Friedmann: That's so true. Great advice and listeners, and I certainly hope that Greg was able to just calm those fears and give you a little bit more self-confidence so that you can go out and sell your book and be profitable with it. Because at the end of the day, that's what it's all about. You just don't want them sitting around in your basement, garage, a spare room, wherever you keep your books. Greg, it's been amazing. As I said, I always love to have my authors on the program. So thank you for sharing your wisdom, and thank you all for taking time out of your precious day to listen to this interview. And I sincerely hope that it sparked some ideas you can use to sell more books. Here's wishing you much book marketing success.